In 1989, Susan Morris-Adams was laid off from Eastern Airlines after working with the company for 21 1/2 years
Looking for a part-time job, Morris-Adams signed up with a temporary placement agency and requested no hospital work; the Stonehaven resident had fainted in a hospital and felt like she was going to faint in another.
When the agency tried to place her in a part-time position at Mercy Hospital (now Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy), Morris-Adams, now 66, declined.
The agency talked Morris-Adams into trying it for nine days; she was assigned to the pathology department to file and type. Although the smell of formaldehyde was strong, she fell in love with the people and the hospital and made her second career there.
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In November 1989, Morris-Adams accepted a secretarial position in volunteer services at Mercy Hospital.
In 1993, Morris-Adams became the director of volunteer services at Mercy South (now CMC-Pineville). Morris-Adams worked in the hospital system until her recent retirement as the director of Volunteer Services/Gift Shops, CMC-Pineville/CMC-Steele Creek.
Morris-Adams was responsible for all aspects of the program, as well as managing and being the buyer for the gift shop. She coordinated interviews, placements, orientation and training of volunteers and developed policies, procedures and volunteer positions, she said.
Many may not realize how important volunteers are to a hospital.
“CMC-Pineville would not be the special place it is without the contributions of our volunteers,” said Chris Hummer, president of Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville.
“Volunteers are critical to our hospital and to our free-standing emergency facility, and to several (Carolinas HealthCare System) pharmacies and doctors’ offices,” said Morris-Adams. “They help supplement the work of staff so that the staff can concentrate on their main jobs.”
With their experience and varied skills, volunteers assist patients and families and work in almost every area of the hospital, including the gift shop, pharmacy, surgical waiting area, office work, emergency department, courtesy shuttle service and maternity.
“Under Susan’s leadership, the program has grown in every way, from the number of volunteers to the hours they give back to our organization,” said Hummer. “In 2012 alone, our volunteers contributed 66,000-plus hours and more than $1.4 million in value. I attribute this success to Susan’s commitment, passion and love for this hospital, our patients and the volunteers.”
Morris-Adams worked hard to find a “meaningful fit” for each volunteer, and her dedication has resulted in one of the largest volunteer troops in the system, said Marcey Stone, director of corporate communications for Carolinas HealthCare System. From 1992 to 2012, the volunteer pool has grown from 60 to more than 400 people.
“Satisfaction among volunteers is high and turnover is low,” said Stone. “Five of the current volunteers are ‘charter volunteers’ who started during the first year Mercy South opened, in 1987.”
Ethel Bryant, 94, is one of those charter volunteers who still volunteers at the gift shop.
“Susan is quite a lady,” said Bryant. It can be difficult to deal with so many personalities, but “Susan did a great job, and we are crazy about her,” she said. “I miss her already.”
Morris-Adams points to a few highlights of her career: She personally received the Pinnacle Award in 2004, and the Kindergarten Tour Program was recognized with the Governor’s Award in 1999 for “Outstanding Volunteer Service.”
Being the director of volunteer services has been the “best job in the world,” said Morris-Adams, who looked forward to coming to work every day.
However, she said, she is ready for the next phase in her life. She was married in May, welcomed her first grandchild in June, and retired in July.
She said she is looking forward to traveling, spending time with family and friends and volunteering in the community and with her church – “Just enjoying life,” said Morris-Adams.