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Unsung Hero: Edwards celebrates 50 years of service at UCMH

Paulette Edwards has worked for Unicoi County Memorial Hospital longer than any other employee, and for over half a century she has dedicated her time and energy to help the hospital best serve its patients. Her loyalty to the hospital and the community was recognized with a surprise celebration. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Kendal Groner)

By Kendal Groner

On Jan. 22 employees, board members and local officials gathered at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital to celebrate Paulette Edward’s 50th year anniversary on the hospital’s staff.

The surprise celebration served as a small token of appreciation compared to the decades of hard work Edwards has put into the hospital and her community.

“Everyone is so busy, and to take their time out to honor me, it really was a shock,” Edwards said. “I don’t have the words for it … I was so pleased. I felt really honored.”

Edwards has been working with UCMH since 1968, and currently works for materials management where she takes care of all of the department supply needs by stocking anything the doctors may need in order to ensure everything runs smoothly when they meet with patients.

She works closely with long-term care and ensures the efficiency of the hospital by carefully managing inventory, refilling crash carts, and procuring items such as blood pressure cuffs and medications.

Prior to serving cake and refreshments, attendees of the celebration took a few moments to express their gratitude and highlight the rarity in having, not only a loyal staff member, but one that has had such a positive impact

“We’re grateful to you and everyone like you that are unsung heroes. The patients don’t always get to see all of the work that goes into patient care,” Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance said to Edwards. “I think all of the nurses will tell you that they can’t do what they do without you, and you are one of the unsung heroes that makes it great. I don’t know how many people you’ve helped, but they are all over this region and we are so grateful for what you do.”

As an Erwin native, Edward’s love for this region and the people in her community are one of the main reasons she says she loves her job. In her time away from work, she enjoys spending time with family.

Her husband, Gary Edwards serves as vice-mayor for the Town of Erwin. Her two children, Wayne Edwards and Paula Edwards, both actively serve their community as well. Wayne is a policeman for the Town of Erwin and Paula teaches chemistry at Unicoi County High School.

“I would just like to say from the town’s point of view that her commitment to this hospital  speaks volumes for her love and dedication to our community and our county,” said Doris   Hensley, mayor of Erwin. “It shows the type of character that she has.”

Eric Carroll, Unicoi County Memorial Hospital administrator, spoke on Edward’s friendly and positive demeanor that impacted those around her.

“She is very focused on her job and is always looking for ways to improve the hospital and look out for the best interests of the patients,” Carroll said. “This is a huge accomplishment, and the appreciation for someone so dedicated and loyal to this hospital says a lot about how tight knit this community is.”

Edwards said that she has worked with wonderful hospital staff over the years, and has developed many friendships along the way.

“Everyday is a different day and they’re all special because you’re helping people and you’re helping your community,” she said. “Everybody here is a team and we work as a team. We do our very best everyday because we know that patient is depending on us. It’s not just me, it’s everybody, and I love everybody here.”