Hospital holds retirement party for old hospital facility
As appeared in the July 23, 2008 edition of The Chatham News
Because Chatham Hospital will officially open its replacement facility next week, Chatham Hospital employees officially retired the hospital's old facility Friday. Hospital employees and members of the Hospital auxiliary gathered for a retirement party Friday at noon, where they shared fond memories of the hospital.
Paula Thompson, who works in the kitchen at Chatham Hospital, is excited about moving to the replacement facility but is sad to see the old building's doors close. "I've worked in this building for 20 years," she said. "Before we move, I'll have to walk down the halls one last time.
"It'll be sad to say goodbye." Registration manager Rhonda Hicks agreed. "I've worked in this building for 11 years," she said. "I've gotten attached to this place."
Maintenance mechanic R.L. Walden and receiving clerk Clyde Brown are both retiring and will not be working at the new facility. Walden has worked with Chatham Hospital for nearly 40 years. "It's sort of sad to be leaving this building but I am glad I got to see the new facility built," he said. "I think the community will be pleased with it."
Chief executive officer Carol Straight said the purpose of the retirement party was "to remember where we came from." "From the time we are children until we become adults, our history shapes who we become," she said. "We are here today to celebrate where we came from, and to share good memories as we prepare to move to the new facility."
Three pen and ink drawings depicting the hospital's first building, a two-story house, the 1950's building and the new facility were displayed at the party. "The drawing of the 1930's hospital has been hanging in the building for a long time," said Hospital employee Mike McCoy. "I thought it would be good to have the artist [Gerald Conklin] draw two more pictures of our current and new facilities. "I looked up the artist on the internet and was able to get in touch with him." Emma Jean Burke is Chatham Hospital's longest-employed nurse wrote a poem for the occasion. The poem mentioned her coming to work at the hospital in 1959 and recalled the white uniforms worn by the nurses. "We will soon move to our new location and close the hospital we've grown up with," she said.
Susan Watson said working for Chatham Hospital showed her "what an employment family is." "When I first worked here, I wasn't really a member of the staff but was a contract employee," she said, blinking back tears. "I had to have back surgery but contract employees did not get sick time. "People who had only known me for 25 months came together and gave me their sick time so I could have mu surgery," she said. "You people are family and I hope we continue to be family for years to come."
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