Edgar B. Harris '70, '72
1998 Award of Honor
Giving care and attention to those in need is a belief that 1970 East Tennessee State University graduate Edgar B. Harris holds dear. From 1967 to 1970, Harris played football for ETSU. He received his B.S. in health and earned a graduate degree in educational administration with a concentration in health care management. While in graduate school, Harris taught health education and a senior level substance abuse program in the Johnson City School system. He later went on to teach high school students in Atlanta, Ga. and then moved into higher education as a college instructor at Cleveland Community College in Shelby, N. C.
Harris' forte lies in the promotion of health care management. In 1974, he was named the Assistant Health Director of three counties in North Carolina. There he learned about developing contracts and services, as well as being responsible for home health operations. Harris moved to Bolivia, N. C., in 1977 and served as the Brunswick County Public Health Director for four years. Then in 1981, he took out a second mortgage on his house and started Comprehensive Home Health Care, Inc., based in Wilmington, N.C. Harris worked 95 hours per week while building this business. He focused on creating relationships that were centered around a common set of beliefs and a desire to help others. When Harris realized his potential was unlimited, he knew he could accomplish anything he wanted. Faith and desire to realize a dream were his guiding forces.
In the first year of business, CHHC grossed $375,000. Harris' nurses, aides, social workers and therapists collectively traveled 300,000 miles, and made 13,667 visits to homebound patients within a four-county area. Harris sold the business in 1995 and under his management, CHHC had become the largest sole propriety, certified home health provider in the country. In comparison to the beginning of CHHC and when Harris sold the business, CHHC employees collectively traveled about 7 million miles, and made over 600,000 visits to homebound patients in a 102 county district that included both the Carolinas. The company also grossed $50,000,000 in 1995.
Harris' expertise in the health field has also been utilized throughout the globe. He began in 1986, when he and others from the National Association for Home Care visited China, and observed that country's different types of healthcare. Harris also visited Australia, and New Zealand for the NAHC. In addition, Harris has traveled to Poland, Hungary and Russia for healthcare diplomatic missions with the People to People International Organization. That group was formed under the Eisenhower administration to send professionals in specialty areas to perform diplomatic functions and develop academic, cultural and professional relationships with countries around the world.
These days, Harris is the president and CEO of a private firm offering consulting and management in health and medical care, and home health care management. He lives in Kiawah Island, S. C. with his wife Mitzi, and they are expecting a baby boy in July! Harris has three daughters, Allison Williams, Kathryn Harris and Ashley Harris; and a granddaughter Morgan.