Betty Jenkins has been working for so long at Piedmont Medical Center that no one calls her Nurse Jenkins.
To all she is simply Nurse Betty, a person of compassion with a forever smile, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Hugging is mandatory, not optional.
Friday, Piedmont Medical Center again honored Nurse Betty, this time for 60 years of combined full-time and volunteer service.
For Nurse Betty – dressed in her trademark white uniform, white stockings and a nurses cap – this means another endless round of hugs from co-workers and even some of the three generations of children she helped deliver as an obstetrics nurse. She is so loved that each hug was captured on multiple cameras and cell phones.
It was also a time for Nurse Betty to officially note that at 83, her driving skills are not what they used to be. That means she won’t be driving to Piedmont Medical Center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to be the hospital’s ambassador, stopping in at every patient’s room to check on them. She said in her ambassador role people often felt more comfortable talking to her than a nurse or doctor.
“I feel like it’s time to hang it up,” she said.
Nurse Betty started at York General in 1955, a recent graduate of the nursing program at Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C.
“From day one I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “This was my calling.”
She retired in 2010, but returned as a volunteer ambassador.
Friday she said she likely won’t be doing rounds anymore. The change in schedule means she will have more time to volunteer at her church – Second Baptist on Mount Holly Road – and to be with her family that includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her husband, Johnny, was a pastor at Second Baptist for 31 years before he died in 2002.
But Nurse Betty is not ready to leave Piedmont entirely. “It’s in my blood,” she said.
Not driving means her friends at Piedmont will have to pick her up when she does volunteer – something that shouldn’t be a problem.
“I can’t stay away.” she said. “I’ll be back.”
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066