Judy Giles celebrated her 50th employment anniversary with Blount Memorial Hospital on June 18. Giles started as an aide on the medical floor, but has spent the last 40 years in the hospital’s emergency department.
MARYVILLE - - Blount County resident Judy Giles walked through the doors of Blount Memorial Hospital as an employee on June 18, 1962. On June 18, 2012, she walked through the same doors, not paying much attention to the fact that she was celebrating a milestone: 50 years of employment at Blount Memorial.
“I didn’t tell anyone,” Giles says, adding that someone found out, though. “The years just went by,” Giles said. “I never thought about the years piling up. I guess it kinda snuck up on me.”
In the early 60s, Giles started her nursing career as an aide on the medical floor, before joining the emergency room staff in 1972. She says she didn’t have intentions of moving up the nursing ladder, but with encouragement and support from some of the best leaders, she did. She went on to become a licensed practical nurse and then earned a registered nursing degree in 1986.
“I guess I thought about it, but I also thought I would never get there,” Giles says. Today, she functions as a registered nurse and serves as the emergency department’s outcomes coordinator, tracking and communicating lab cultures and X-rays to patients, their physicians’ offices and other hospitals, as needed.
With her years of experience, Giles has seen a lot. She worked in the emergency room before it had emergency medicine physicians, and she says that the addition of emergency medicine physicians was probably the biggest change she’s seen. But before this transition, Giles says, “We took care of the patients before the physicians came. They all took call, and anyone who was on call – it might be an obstetrician – would come in and sew people up or set bones,” Giles recalls. “It was OK then, and we worked together.”
Working together was important, too, especially in the case of Giles’ favorite part of working in the emergency department: trauma care. She also had the opportunity to mentor new nurses, sharing wisdom and experiences that aren’t found in a textbook.
“I can recall that Judy was an LPN when I came down here,” says now emergency department director Debbie Teffeteller. “I was a brand-spankin’ new RN, and Judy took me under her wing and taught me everything about working in the emergency room.” Giles laughed, adding of her now boss, “She was a good learner, too. She caught on fast.”
While she’s witnessed a lot of change through the years and has served in many nursing roles, one thing that hasn’t changed for Giles is the reason she comes to work each day, and will continue to come to work – since she hasn’t set a timeline for or given much thought to retirement.
“Blount Memorial means home to me. My friends are here, and they’re like family.”