After 57 years, Regional One employee recognized for hard work, dedication to Memphis patients

Bright Spot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s hard to miss the red nails, the laugh and the spirit of Ms. Earnestine Joiner when you visit Regional One Health.

“As long as the Lord lets me get up and be able to come here, I’m coming,” she said.

Four days a week, the 82 year old works in the Trauma Center and in her 57 years on the job, she’s never been late.

On April 16, 1964, Ms. J started working as a ward clerk at what was formerly known as John Gaston Hospital. She’s had quite a few promotions before becoming an office assistant.

“Critical patients come in here, like car wrecks, gunshots and stab. We have all types of people that come in, but you have to be able to deal with all of them,” she said.

In their worst moments, Ms. J has made it her mission to make every critical patient feel relaxed and welcomed.  After being a patient herself, she knows just how important her work is.

“I always keep a smile on my face and try to make the person feel good even when they feel bad,” she said.

She has dedicated her weekdays and weekends to patients so it’s only right for her to know just how far her kindness has stretched. She was surprised that our cameras were there to document her work at the hospital.

“For your anniversary, how do you plan on spending today?” asked WREG’s Symone Woolridge.

“I plan on spending my day today sitting at my desk and doing my work,” she said with a laugh. “The usual thing I do every day.”

But it wasn’t a normal day, and her hard work didn’t go unnoticed. Hours after our interview, a crowd of loved ones, physicians, nurses and family met outside the hospital to surprise and thank her.

“She’s the kindest most loving person that I know,” said one co-worker.

“If there was no one left but her in this organization within our department, we would still run efficiently and smoothly, that’s how much she means to us,” said Nurse Manager Angelita Rodgers.

“I just hope God keeps giving her strength and that ability to keep coming to where she loves,” added her daughter Shirley Ray.  

“I just believe God has brought me this far and he’s not fixing to leave me now,” said Ms. J.

As the 82 year old says, she’ll be at the hospital — Lord willing — for another 57 years.

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