Uncovering a Piece of History

A large painting of the old Riverside Hospital in Wilmington hangs behind the desk in Scott Rickards’ Avenue North office in the Contact Center.

Also displayed, albeit in a much less conspicuous spot, is a small, framed photo of an older couple holding an infant – Rickards’ own grandparents cradling him as a baby.

Scott Rickards’ grandparents, Raymond and Lois Rickards, hold him for the first time.

As it turns out, there’s a special connection between the two images, one that blends Rickards’ personal and professional lives.

His grandfather, Raymond Rickards, D.O., was one of the founders of Riverside Hospital, the osteopathic hospital in 1954 by a group of local doctors. The hospital grew larger, moved to another location, and was eventually purchased by the Medical Center of Delaware, a precursor to ChristianaCare.

But even Rickards didn’t realize just how much of his life his grandfather – a gray-haired, thoughtful man he knew as “Pop-Pop” – gave to his community until he embarked on a project to dress up the walls in the ChristianaCare Contact Center, where he works as workforce optimization manager.

“You don’t come to work expecting to learn about your family, but that’s what happened,” Rickards said.

Uncovering a memory

After a 20-year history working with call centers in the financial industry, Rickards joined ChristianaCare in October 2022. As workforce optimization manager, he oversees the 124 customer service caregivers in Avenue North who handle phone calls for ChristianaCare’s primary and specialty practices, along with refill requests and other scheduling.

The Contact Center at Avenue North handles an average of 80,000 calls a month.

The team, which handles an average of 80,000 patient calls a month, was gearing up to move from the basement of Avenue North to a larger area on the first floor. Hoping to brighten the office walls, Rickards asked a colleague if the organization had a place where they kept old artwork and other decorations. He was directed to a storage area in the basement of Avenue North.

“I didn’t really know what I might find, but I walked in and just sitting there is this painting of Riverside Hospital. I couldn’t believe it,” Rickards recalled.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Why would you want that picture?’ I told them my grandfather was a co-founder of that hospital.”

Getting a fuller picture

The painting was surprising enough, but Rickards also found other treasures, including black-and-white photos his family had never seen of his grandfather and grandmother, Lois Rickards, who served as president of the auxiliary of the Delaware State Osteopathic Society.

Dr. Raymond Rickards was part of a group photographed during Riverside Hospital anniversary dinners. Several photos featured Lois Rickards among volunteers who were recognized for their service.

The photos helped give Rickards a fuller picture of his grandparents, especially the kindly older man he knew who loved to fish and do crossword puzzles.

“My father had never seen these pictures of his parents, and I had trouble picking them out because I only knew them as older people,” he said.

Scott Rickards, right, with his grandfather, Raymond Rickards, D.O., left, one of the founders of Riverside Hospital at his shore house in Stone Harbor, N.J. Scott Rickards would often visit and fish with his grandfather.

A history of caring for the community

In addition to being a co-founder of Riverside, Dr. Rickards also served as chief of staff and chief of the Internal Medicine department for the hospital.

Rickards said his grandfather practiced medicine for 40 years. During the Depression, he traveled weekly down to Milford to see patients who often paid him in chickens and vegetables. He saw patients in the middle of the night if someone called him, and he refused to raise his prices because he wanted to be sure everyone could have health care. When Riverside Hospital moved to another location on Lea Boulevard, a wing of the hospital was named in his honor.

With the Riverside Hospital painting hanging in his office, Rickards said he is reminded of the important role his grandfather played in making sure people had access to health care.

And although Rickards will always remember his grandfather best for his love of cars and taking him and his other grandchildren out on his wooden boat, he appreciates the glimpse into his professional life as well.

“It really helps give me a perspective on the work that I’m doing and how it also connects our ChristianaCare patients,” he said.