Mark Hines was adviser, patient advocate

When patients in wheelchairs breeze through automated doors to the cafeteria at Medical College of Georgia Hospital or maneuver easily around a resource library, they will have Mark Hines to thank.


Mr. Hines, a tireless patient advocate and adviser to the health system, died Sunday at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. He was 56.

Mr. Hines was working two jobs a decade ago when he first began dragging his left leg, which he thought was just from the strain, he told The Augusta Chronicle in 2002. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which rapidly progressed to the point where he needed an electric wheelchair for mobility. But that hardly slowed Mr. Hines as he turned his attention to helping patients like him gain a voice in the hospital corridors.

"He really was a leader among advisers," said Bernard Roberson, the director of family services development for MCG Hospital and Clinics.

"When he was in a room, he wasn't afraid to speak out, whether it was something good or if it was something bad, he would speak out on it."

Among his many advisory roles, Mr. Hines served on Health Partners, a patient advisory group for the adult hospital, and Family Faculty, which actually helps teach students.

"(Advisers) go in and talk about the experience of care and what they want their doctors to know, what they feel that new students in health care should know when they go out to their own practice," Mr. Roberson said.

Mr. Hines helped the health system pinpoint accessibility problems, such as the doors on the cafeteria that had to be pulled open, which is difficult for someone in a wheelchair to do, Mr. Roberson said.

"He really opened our eyes with those kinds of things," he said.

Mr. Hines was also deeply involved in helping design the Neuroscience Center at the hospital and even helped interview the staff and doctors, Mr. Roberson said.

"Our Neuroscience Center, Mark called that his real estate because he helped to develop that, he helped to make the things better there," he said. "The implementation of patent- and family-centered care, that's a lot of Mark's work."

In fact, it led him to speak at national and international conferences on patient- and family-centered care, Mr. Roberson said.

"He was very proud of it and he was glad to be a part of it," said Barbara Hines, his wife.

Much of that success stemmed from his outgoing personality, she said.

"He met no strangers," Mrs. Hines said. "He'll talk to somebody just like he's been knowing them all of his life."

He taught his children the value of hard work, said his daughter, Alicia. Before he became sick, many days he would leave for work at the post office at 8 a.m. and finally come home about 10 p.m. from his second job at Health Central, she said.

"Just to make sure that we were able to have the life he wanted us to have," Ms. Hines said. He told his children "no matter what happens to him, that he wanted us to be successful and make something of ourselves and not let his illness hold us back," she said.

Family was ultimately what was most important to him. In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by: two sons, Mark E. Hines, of Hephzibah, and James Hines, of New Jersey; his parents, Lucille and Sol Fleming, of Hephzibah; a sister, Katie Hines of Maryland; a brother, Harry Hines of New Jersey; and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Williams Funeral Home, 2945 Old Tobacco Road. Visitation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Burial will be in Mount Olive Memorial Gardens.

"He was more than a father, he was a hero and he will be greatly missed," Ms. Hines said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or