Published Friday, April 13, 2012
By NICHOLE GOLDEN
Mildred Jackson, who began her work as a hospital switchboard operator in 1978 for Coweta General, is retiring today from Piedmont Newnan Hospital after 34 years of answering phones with cheer.
Jackson has experienced six hospital name changes, and had different job titles along the way, including switchboard operator, PBX operator, and now communications assistant. “I’m ending with the best,” she said about Piedmont Newnan. “I’ve always felt like I was part of the family.”
Bobbie Jackson, the hospital’s patient and financial services supervisor, said Mrs. Mildred exceeds expectations of graciousness and courtesy. “She is a wonderful, sweet, Christian person who is a true delight to work with,” said Bobbie Jackson. “We all love her dearly and will miss her very much. She has been receiving flowers and gifts all week from those wishing her well in this new chapter of her life.”
Mildred Jackson says the greatest thing about her job has been to minister to Coweta and its people. “I’m just a servant,” she said.
If you’ve called the hospital anytime during the second shift of 2:30 and 11 p.m. in the past few decades, you were likely greeted by Jackson’s distinctive and inspirational voice. A native of Talking Rock, Ga., Jackson calls it her “hillbilly” voice. It’s also Jackson’s voice heard on paged announcements overhead including that visiting hours have ended.
Jackson said she heard from an ER doctor this week, whom she’s never actually met, saying he would miss her voice.
The second shift was always Jackson’s preferred time to work. Administration requested her to move to the first shift, but she would always tell them, “People on the second shift need a nice person, too.” They always accommodated her wish.
Jackson said she has probably trained close to forty ladies for other shifts during her career there. “What you need most is common sense,” she would always tell them.
Having worked for a total of 56 years in her life, Jackson has “no idea” how she will spend her retirement. She hopes to have more time to visit others in nursing homes, and continue to plan lessons for and to teach Sunday School class.
Jackson has had different chairs over the years, but has occupied the same spot in the building on Hospital Road for the entire 34 years.
An administrator once marveled at her patience with callers with others waiting on hold for her attention. The person you are speaking with at any given moment is the “most important,” explained Jackson. “You just meet all kinds.”
Jackson calls herself the “richest” woman for the chance to work with wonderful people. “I am so blessed,” she said.