First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Ann Stephens has worked at Southeastern Regional Medical Center for more than two decades, but says she never lost focus of why she was there. The reminders were there daily.
Stephens recalled walking down a hospital hallway recently when a woman asked for help. Stephens assumed the woman, who seemed vibrant and healthy, needed outpatient services.
“She said, ‘I’m coming in for a hysterectomy, I have cervical cancer,’ ” Stephens said, wiping away tears. “We really do make a difference. When your days get harried, remember the people we are serving.”
A group of about 35 doctors and hospital administrators met at Adelios restaurant on Monday to remember the difference Stephens has made during her 25 years as the hospital official spokesman. Stephens retires at the end of the month.
Her co-workers gave her several standing ovations and everyone saw a slide show chronicling her time at the hospital. Stephens’ parting gift was fitting - a camera.
“She’s always been by my side and supported me,” said Luckey Welsh, SRMC president and CEO. “She never ever refuses anything and she always does it with a smile on her face. She’s a good friend, someone we love an appreciate.”
Stephens joined the hospital on Aug. 17, 1981, as the director of medical library services and director of public relations. In 1987, the position split and she became full-time public relations director. During her tenure, Stephens has produced the hospital newsletter and penned a column for The Robesonian.
“She was a tremendous advocate for the hospital, and the value of her work cannot be overstated because she brought potentially life-saving health information into the home of people in this county,” said Donnie Douglas, editor of The Robesonian. “As an editor, I didn't mind that her column arrived good to go - well-written and easy to read.”
Stephens was emotional as she said good-bye to her colleagues.
“I’m going to miss every one of you - I’m going to miss work - but we must move on with the next phase of our life,” she said. “It’s been wonderful working for an organization that makes such a difference in people’s lives.”
Her husband Ed said that the job has been a challenge, but his wife persevered.
“She’s always been a hard worker and looked ahead at new ways of doing things,” he said. “I’m very proud of her. Besides her professional life, she’s a great mother and looking forward to spending time with her grandchildren.”
Amanda Crabtree, public relations specialist, first met Stephens during a hospital internship 1996. Stephens hired her full-time in 2002.
“She’s a very professional lady, and dedicated to Southeastern Regional Medical Center,” Crabtree said. “As you embark on a new adventure, I hope you are able to rest and enjoy all that life has to offer.”