Frankie sticks with the job – for 50 years
Media Contact: Ruth Cummins at 601-984-1104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was close on 50 years ago when Frankie Gaines stuck her first patient.
Her training began on July 6, 1965, as a part-timer in a University of Mississippi Medical Center laboratory, “keeping the glassware clean and relieving employees who were taking their vacation,” said Gaines, 77. “That was back when they always used glass for everything.”
Then, her boss asked her to work full time. “I told him I surely would. We saw patients in a clinic in the lab. I did blood pressure and temperatures ... whatever the doctor had ordered.”
But, she'd find herself helping out in a second Medical Center lab in her office where blood was drawn from patients. “I told the lady over that lab, 'I want to stick a patient by myself.' I'd watched her for a long time, and I said, 'I believe I want to do this.' The first time, I got it.”
Today, Gaines is a phlebotomy assistant supervisor in the Adult Hematology lab located at the Jackson Medical Mall. After 50 years and lots of on-the-job training, the Jackson resident said, she still enjoys sticking people and being a vital part of the ebb and flow in the lab.
Gaines “is an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Keith Wilkins, a department manager in clinical laboratory administration. “She helped lay the cornerstones here. She's one of only two people I know who has a four-digit ID number. Everyone else has five digits.”
Gaines started work at UMMC “right around the time when I was born,” Wilkins said. “She is a go-getter person. She does not like people lolly-gagging around. She likes attention to detail, and she's always cleaning.”
Frankie Gaines, a phlebotomist at UMMC's Adult Hematology lab at the Jackson Medical Mall, received her 50-year pin from Kim Meeker, administrator for Wiser Hospital perioperative and ancillary services.
Employees in the Human Resources department aren't sure if Gaines is the first employee to reach the 50-year milestone. But, they did have to design and special-order her 50-year pin. It's not something their office keeps in stock.
“Fifty years. Can you imagine?” Kim Meeker, administrator for Wiser Hospital and perioperative and ancillary services, said as Gaines received a standing ovation during the presentation of her pin at Wednesday's monthly Leadership Meeting.
“Frankie said her dad told her to find a job that she liked, and to keep it,” Meeker said. “Frankie, thanks for making this a better place to work, and a better place for patients.”
Gaines has witnessed tremendous change during her tenure. “I've seen buildings go up on top of buildings,” she said. “I just enjoy working wherever they put me. I've done the best I could.”
During her five decades spent on the main campus and later at the Medical Mall, “I did steady work and tended to my children,” a boy and two girls, Gaines said. “I worked two jobs when my son was at the University of Florida. He had a scholarship, but I wanted to make sure he had what he needed. I told him that when he graduated, I was going to graduate, too - from my second job.”
Gaines looks like she could outpace most walkers at the Medical Mall, especially with the bright-colored sports shoes she wears on the job. She recently underwent knee replacement surgery, but even that couldn't keep her down. “My doctor would only give me a temporary handicapped sticker,” she said. “He told me that when my knee got well, I'd want to run from the parking lot.”
Gaines takes a sample from Kenyada Williams of Richland.
She says she has no idea how many times she's drawn blood from a patient. “It's a lot,” she said. “I'll take 50 cents for every patient I stuck.”
Gaines has attended New Stranger's Home Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson since 1957 and enjoys spending time doting on her six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She's an avid baseball and basketball fan, having played basketball in high school, and also counts watching football as a favorite pastime. “I like the Saints, but they aren't doing too well,” she said. “I don't care. I'm going to stay with them.”'
Is retirement on the horizon?
“No, not really,” Gaines said. “It has crossed my mind, but then it will go away from me. I have no plans to retire, not at this moment, unless something comes up.”