April 20, 2021

LOVING A NEW ROLE

This photo (about 1980) makes me feel how happy I was those first months in my new role as Director of Public Relations at Providence Hospital!  Early each summer we had an Employee Family Picnic at the beautiful Bell Camp area belonging to the University of South Carolina.  Hundreds of staff members brought their families to the outing—including me.  As department heads, we were expected to be unofficial hosts and make sure everyone had a good time.  The hospital provided food and beverages, ice cream, games and prizes for the kids.  One year (when I was Medical Records Director) I wound up going through the park with a huge trash bag, picking up the chicken bones and other trash people had dropped on the ground.  It was no picnic for me!

Then—after my 6 years or so in Medical Records—a miracle.  I’d done my best and things were going smoothly but I was bored and not enjoying my job at all.  Unexpectedly there was a staff opening for Public Relations Director.  Pete Reibold was Executive Vice President and sympathetic to my desire for change.  I waged a campaign to get the job for which I had no specific training or experience.  As I reminded Pete, the same was true with Medical Records, and I’d done fine with that assignment.  After weeks of soliciting recommendation letters and presenting portfolios of my writing and photography, I got my dream job!

I had one assistant—first Candy and later Diane—and we worked out of a trailer in the back yard of the home where the Sisters of Charity fo Saint Augustine lived.  We shared the trailer with the hospital’s Foundation staff—Mr. Reed, Charles and Linda Zember.  We wrote the employee newsletters, handled any hospital press releases, responded to media questions especially about any public figures who were hospital patients, organized medical symposia, and marketed the new cardiovascular services to physicians and hospitals across the state.

When the hospital picnic rolled around, I was delighted to carry the hospital’s camera around recording the day’s fun.  Of course, as official photographer I couldn’t pick up trash!  I felt so important.  I was talking with Larry Ellis, another department head and friend, and his young son. I can only imagine that this kid is thinking I’m as cool as I thought I was. New beginnings, new roles—they bring such joy and satisfaction.  

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