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SRMC Staff Honored During National Hospital Week

May 12, 2009 — The Schneider Regional Medical Center lobby overflowed with pride, cheers and applause Tuesday morning as more than 75 employees were honored for their years of service in observance of National Hospital Week.
The staff's good will filled the lobby in a spirited demonstration of support for one another, as each marched to the front of the room to receive honorary gifts, and hugs from Elizabeth Harris, SRMC interim chief executive officer; Dr. Thelma Watson, SRMC medical director; Eugene Welsh, interim chief financial officer; Edward Aribsala, Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute vice president of oncology; and Harold Wallace, vice president of ambulatory services for Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center.
Two of the officers were honorees, themselves. Harris was presented with a five-year pin, and recognized for senior leadership; Watson received a 10-year award, and received a big floral bouquet from her staff. Though Watson has been with SRMC for 10 years, she has a 19-year career with the Department of Health.
Leading off the presentation, mistress of ceremonies Angela Rennalls-Atkinson, chief operating officer, introduced Harris, who greeted the staff with a big smile. "It's a day to say how special you are," she said.
"I am honored and humbled to be here today. You guys are the real part of this hospital. This is a building; it's the people who make it special."
Speaking before the ceremony, Harris graciously revealed a bit of her views in her new position.
A St. Thomas native, she was recruited to Schneider Regional in 2004 from Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., where she was clinical director of imaging services for 25 years.
Harris was vice president for quality and performance improvement when she was tapped for the interim CEO position at Schneider. She was previously director of radiology and physiological testing.
"The only difference in being treated here or in the states is the plane fare," she said. "I worked with a team of people to build the lab. Our facility is not different than Washington, D.C. or Baltimore. You don't have to leave the island."
Harris has a calm, open manner; she doesn't give the appearance of being easily rattled. "I'm pleased to assume this post to ensure a smooth transition [for a new CEO]," she said. "I am fine with that. I'm glad I was here. I know what good health care looks like."
Harris listed an important attribute: "You have to really be a good communicator. More talk is better than less — I allow employees to speak their minds."
She added, with a twinkle, "I have the gift of gab."
Five employees — Denise Simmonds, Elbert Martin, Yvonne Potter, Blondell Williams and Rehenia Frazer — received special honors for 30 years of service.
Renalls-Atkinson said the ceremony wasn't quite over. "We are going now to award those who are on duty."
Further events are planned throughout the National Hospital Week.
– Wednesday: The second annual Wellness Fair from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on SRMC front lawn open to the public featuring Lectures and classes. Nutrition and Pilates at 10 a.m.; The Law of Attraction at 11 a.m.; Tai Chi at noon; Stress Management at 1 p.m.; Acupuncture at 2 p.m.; and Weight Management, Obesity Prevention at 3 p.m. Yoga classes are scheduled every half hour between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
– Thursday: "Bringing Services to SRMC Employees" with information from banks, credit unions, Medicaid, the retirement system and their health insurer CIGNA.
– Friday: Employees Talent and Fashion Show beginning at 10 a.m. in hospital lobby, followed by gifts from senior leaders and Women and Girls Health Mentorship Day from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The week will wind up with a party at Magens Bay, shed #3.
Attendance by the general public is welcomed.
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