Retirees recall experiences of a lifetime at UMMC
By Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle
Call them the 40-and-over Club. The University of Mississippi Medical Center honored 67 retirees who have 25 or more years of service to the institution at a ceremony on June 22, and of those employees, four had a career that spanned 40 or more years. Who are they? What motivated them to stay? These are their stories.
Librarian counts friendships among greatest collections
By Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle
In 44 years, David Juergens has collected enough memories and stories to fill several shelves in the Rowland Medical Library where he spent his entire Medical Center career.
There’s the conversation he had with Dr. Arthur Guyton, former professor and chair of physiology, about finding a tombstone of a possible Guyton ancestor in one of the cemeteries on the Medical Center property. As a history buff, he spent many a lunch hour walking through historical cemeteries that border the Medical Center, reading gravestones and identifying other signs of graves such as depressions in the soil.
“It’s the living you may have to fear, not the dead,” he said.
He worked with Dr. Robert E. Blount, Medical Center director from 1971-73, to find information on a family matter. He assisted the first School of Nursing dean, Christine Oglevee, with developing the first SON Humanities Collection when nursing students lost library privileges at Millsaps College.
When Juergens detected a physical ailment in 1982 that concerned him, he reached for the phone and called a friend – Dr. James D. Hardy, professor of surgery and first chair of the Department of Surgery. Hardy made an appointment for Juergens to see him in his private office, and he confirmed Juergens’ suspicions.
“He set up the surgery within a few days after that,” Juergens said.
“All of these experiences and others like them, such as hunting for treasure at Goodwill Industries in Jackson with Dr. T.D. Lampton, former director of student/employee health, and experiencing the many expressions of generosity given the library and kindnesses toward me by Dr. Julius M. Cruse, professor of pathology, have meant a great deal to me,” he said.
These interactions are examples of the professional and personal friendships Juergens formed with library colleagues, faculty and staff from Mississippi and beyond. At 75, Juergens, UMMC’s first collection development/acquisitions librarian, has decided to retire, “while I still feel at the top of my game,” he said.
Juergens will pursue such activities as genealogy, gardening, collecting and restoring found treasures and some traveling.
A search for a new career opportunity led Juergens to UMMC. He has a master’s degree in psychiatric social work and previously worked for the Kentucky Department of Mental Health.
In 1968, he answered an advertisement by the Medical Center for an acquisitions librarian with a behavioral and social sciences background.
Juergens has led or assisted in numerous library projects, including managing the used book sales for Friends of Rowland Medical Library for 16 years, helping to identify and document more than 180 Mississippi women in the health sciences for the Changing the Face of Medicine national traveling exhibit in 2008, and establishing the first collection of dental books at UMMC in time for the opening of the School of Dentistry in 1975.
Dr. Helen Turner, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said she was grateful for Juergens’ 44 years of dedicated service to UMMC.
“During this time he has worked tirelessly to improve the Rowland Medical Library collections and archives for the benefit of our students, faculty and patients,” she said. “We wish him well in his retirement.”
Of all of his accomplishments, what does Juergens consider his greatest achievement?
“Organizing, managing and serving patrons who use the UMMC institutional and library archives,” he said.
Operations supervisor transforms temp work into SOD caree
By Morgan Lee
What began as a summer job in 1973 turned into a 40-year career for Linda
“I started working at UMMC and planned on it just being a summer job, but I liked it so much and opportunities opened and I just didn’t want to leave,” said Cook, supervisor of business operations in the School of Dentistry.
“I’ve met a lot of great people here and have seen many of
Cook received the B.E. from Mississippi State in 1973. That summer, she took the advice of her father, Clyde Harrison, who was then director of television at UMMC, and worked as an ob-gyn business administrative secretary for a government-funded nurse midwifery program at the Medical Center.
When the funding for that program ran out in 1985, Cook began working as supervisor of business operations in the School of Dentistry.
While working at UMMC, Cook met her husband, Dave. Like her father, Dave worked in television.
Cook has post-retirement plans to work part-time at a catering company. She also plans to spend more time playing tennis and visiting family.
Jacque Lynch, director of business operations in the School of Dentistry, called Cook a “great co-worker.”
“Linda has a great work ethic and anyone who knows her understands what a wealth of information she can provide regarding UMMC policies and processes,” Lynch said. “She is extremely knowledgeable and conscientious and, regardless of what is going on, Linda always smiles.
“We are going to miss her more than she realizes, but we are happy that she will have time to enjoy herself.”
Cardio tech known for putting patient safety, satisfaction first
By Morgan Lee
In the 1970s, Sherline Wilson remembers installing an artificial heart into a calf named Alice, whom she grew to love.
Wilson began researching artificial hearts and lungs at UMMC as a noninvasive cardiology technician right out of high school. She has been in the heart station working with X-rays, EKGs and heart ultrasounds for nearly 45 years.
“Out of all the years I’ve worked here, I can truly say I have enjoyed every minute,” Wilson said. “When I brought my mom here to receive a pacemaker, it was like coming home again.
“I’ve worked with a great group of people and I have been blessed. I have learned a lot and I am going to miss UMMC.”
She retired in May, but Wilson still wakes at 5 a.m. every day. She plans to visit her son and grandchildren in Memphis and spend more time fishing. Her main goal is to explore Mississippi, the place she has lived all of her life.
By the time Dr. Thomas Skelton, professor of cardiology, started medical school at UMMC in 1977, Wilson had been working almost 10 years.
“As a cardiovascular technician in various roles, you can just imagine how much new information, new technology and new work skills she has had to understand and develop over 45 years,” Skelton said. “I’ll remember her as someone whose diagnostic work was done professionally and with the right priorities: Patient safety, comfort and satisfaction always came first.”
Skelton said that if Wilson saw something of concern on one of the studies she performed, she was quick to get confirmation with one of the cardiology staff.
“For many of us at all levels, she taught us from her experience and by her actions,” he said. “We celebrate 25- and 30-year careers all the time at UMMC, but it’s just phenomenal to celebrate a lifetime career of 45 years.”
Oncologist steps aside to step up funding for endowed chairs
By Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle
After Dr. Ralph Vance graduated from Murrah High School in 1964, he spent a summer at the Medical Center working as an orderly.
“At that time, there were separate water fountains with signs for white people and colored people and separate restrooms,” he said. “Thank God when I came back after four years at Ole Miss, those labels were gone.
“I’ve seen the university, over the years, make drastic changes for the better.”
On June 29, Vance, professor of medicine and an oncologist, will cap a 40-year career at UMMC. But don’t expect him to take it easy. He plans to help the University of Mississippi and the Medical Center in their efforts to fund endowed chairs and professorships.
“I’ve worked since 7th grade. I don’t know how to sit down,” he said.
For more than three decades, Vance has volunteered with the American Cancer Society, having served as state division president, the first president of the Mid-South Division and national president of the society.
When Vance began his fellowship training in hematology-oncology 35 years ago, the overall survival rate of those diagnosed with cancer was in the mid-30s. Now the survival rate is greater than 75 percent.
“The American Cancer Society has been a huge part of my life,” he said. “It was a great thing for me.”
For his work with the ACS, the Cancer League honored Vance at its gala last year.
Vance was instrumental in establishing Camp Rainbow, a summer camp for children affected by cancer. The camp has welcomed children for 29 years. Additionally, he has taught dozens of medical students over the years, and he’s still amazed that physicians around the state remember him.
Vance and his wife, Mary Douglas, are building a home in Oxford and plan to move there this summer. It sits directly across from his alma mater.