April 9, 2012

Each year, CAMC recognizes employees celebrating anniversaries. A dinner is held to celebrate the service from five years on up. This year, one employee will celebrate his 50th anniversary. Since the Charleston Area Medical Center we know today is only 40-year-old, some employees started at other hospitals that were purchased or merged into CAMC. Below are a few stories.

Bill Williams, 50 years, construction management
Bill Williams

Bill Williams went to West Virginia State College and began working at Huntington State Hospital. He was there for two years, staying in Huntington during the week and coming home on the weekends. Then he saw an advertisement in the paper for a maintenance job at Memorial and applied for it.

“My first job at Memorial was to do preventative maintenance on the isolettes in the newborn nursery,” Williams said.

The thing that surprises Williams the most is the growth.

“When I first came here, Memorial wasn’t as big as it is now,” Williams said before reeling off a number of expansion projects such as the medical staff office building, surgery suites and parking garage.

Williams later became the maintenance director for all CAMC hospitals when he retired in 1998. “I stayed retired for a couple days, before I decided to come back and work in the construction department.”

Williams now keeps tabs on current projects, working with architects and others maintaining project drawings.

Anna Thompson, RN, medical rehabilitation, 45 years

Anna Thompson“I didn’t think I’d make it that long,” said Anna Thompson. While she just celebrated her 45th anniversary, she hasn’t been a registered nurse that long.

Thompson’s career started at McMillan Hospital.

“I worked in several units before coming to medical rehabilitation,” Thompson said. She has worked on the medical rehabilitation unit for 17 years.

“CAMC paid for my education,” said Thompson who graduated from the nursing school at the University of Charleston in 2002. “I worked fulltime. I went to school during the day. When I wasn’t in school, I was working.”

She also has spent most of her career on the nightshift. “I moved to that shift when I started having babies so I could be there for them during the day. I like where I’m at now. Most patients get better and go home with education and learning to deal with it.”

She has two sons who are also nurses at CAMC; Joey Kay works in the surgical intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital and David Kay works in surgery at General Hospital.

Bob Gardner, 45 years, transport
Bob Gardner

Bob Gardner has held a few different positions at CAMC, but they’ve all had one thing in common- transporting.

“I don’t think I could get lost if I tried,” Gardner joked.

Gardner has spent all 45 years working at General Hospital. He left naval reserve in 1967 and needed a job so he picked up an application and was hired.

“I was an attendant for eight years, assigned to a floor to transport as well as assist nurses, especially with male patients. I then worked in pharmacy, stocking shelves, picking up prescription orders and dropping off medications on the floors. I also worked in X-ray, doing the same thing, going to the units to bring patients for their tests and then take them back to their rooms.”

Gardner says when he first started at CAMC they used walkie-talkies to communicate with the units. Now it’s computerized. The Transfer Tracking program uses phones and pagers to tell transporters where the patients are and where they need to be taken.

“The computer screen shows us who needs picked up and where to go. I enter code in the phone in the office to say I’m on my way. I use the phone in the patient room to say I’ve picked up the patient, and I use the phone in the unit after I’ve delivered the patient.”

Once he’s back in the office he uses the phone to let everyone know he’s free for another delivery.

“I spend a lot of time on the phone.” Gardner said with a smile.

Gardner’s wife, Gerry also works at CAMC as a nurse in employee health. “I met my wife here. We’ve basically lived here ever since.” 

The thing he likes best about his job is the people.

“I like working with patients. You see a lot of people. I like helping them.”

And the people remember Gardner. “Some patients remember me. They say, ‘Are you still here?’”

Kathy Simms, 40 years, transcription
Kathy Simms

Kathy Simms started working as a transcriptionist at Memorial Hospital right after getting married so 2012 also marks her 40th wedding anniversary.

“It’s been frequently challenging, but never boring,” Simms said.

She had to decide in junior high school what courses she would take in high school that would lead to a career in healthcare.

“In high school we went to school a half-day and worked in a business the other half for job training.  I was trained at Holzer Medical Center and worked for them for a year and a half before getting married and moving to Charleston.”

Technology has really advanced in Simms’ field.

“Back when I started we used typewriters and carbon paper to make copies. Transcriptionists used to be at each hospital before they were consolidated at Memorial.  The transcription process has become so technically advanced that transcriptionists can now work from home.”

Simms now supervises transcriptionists by the use of phone and email.

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