Mary Dorsey doesn’t go through her day in UAB Hospital quietly.
As a turndown services specialist, Dorsey visits patients every evening before bedtime to make sure they have the things they need — soap, paper towels, linens, emptied trash cans and a clean room are some of her responsibilities.
But Dorsey goes beyond those tasks each day and uses her position to interact and engage with patients. And this, says Environmental Services Manager Erwin Luster, is where Dorsey shines. “Mrs. Dorsey has such a warm personality, and her position and the opportunity she has to greet patients enables her to show just how special she really is,” Luster says.
Because of her efforts, Dorsey has been selected December’s Employee of the Month.
Dorsey, a Birmingham native, never has been afraid of hard work.
She worked for many years at Greg’s Cookies, where she began her career as a box maker. Dorsey worked her way up the ladder until she became a line leader. She was charged with tracking the percentage of cases of cookies that were shipped and made sure all of the work on the line was completed in a timely fashion.
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“It was a fun job,” Dorsey says. “Of course it was sad when Greg’s when out of business, and it took me a little while to find full-time employment again.”
When UAB did call with the offer of a full-time position, Dorsey said yes – and once again worked her way through the ranks. She began her UAB career almost 10 years ago in discharging and moved on to checkouts. “I’ve almost worked all over campus,” she says.
But she has found her home in turndown, where she can have an impact on patients and do more than just make sure they have everything they need.
One recent patient certainly was impressed with Dorsey. The patient wrote a letter to Luster after her first week in UAB Hospital, complimenting the service Dorsey provided her.
“She is an excellent example of what you would wish an employee to be,” the patient wrote. “She is always very helpful and always has that beautiful smile on her face whenever I see her. She is efficient and even more than that, she really cares about the people she encounters in these hospital rooms.”
The patient experienced Dorsey’s compassion firsthand. The patient relayed a story about how depressed she was one evening, and then Dorsey entered the room.
“Before she left we had several good laughs,” the patient wrote. “I’m sure you’ve heard them say laughter is the best medicine. It will be tough to find a better employee than Mrs. Dorsey, or for that matter, a better person.”
Catherine Newhouse, administrative director of Rehabilitation Services, says the impact Dorsey has on patients is tremendous.
“Ms. Mary, as she is known to our patients, is a true gem,” Newhouse says. “Her smile and her caring ways work magic with many of our patients to the point where she is regularly being recognized in patient surveys, individual letters and phone calls as being an outstanding employee who made a difference in their lives.
“In this world of high-tech medical intervention and the number of skilled health care workers that deliver care, it is truly telling that it is Ms. Mary that is remembered as the one that makes their stay a positive one.”
Martin Smith, manager of the Pain Treatment Clinic, says Dorsey epitomizes someone who lives UAB’s core values each day.
“As health care professionals, we often interact with individuals at their worst,” Smith says. “It takes a special person such as Ms. Dorsey to make them forget the present and put a smile on their face. Ms. Dorsey is a great ambassador for UAB both inside the hospital and out. As we dedicate ourselves to being even more patient- and family-centered, it will be people like Ms. Dorsey who lead the way.”
Dorsey says the great thing about her position is that she gets to meet many different people and learn more about them. And while patients say she is a jolt of positivity they often need, Dorsey says the inspiration she receives from the patients can be overwhelming.
“I love my job, truly love it, and it’s because of these patients,” Dorsey says. “I stay prayed up. I pray for these patients, and some of them even pray for me. I feel like this is God’s calling for me, but they really encourage me. I meet a lot of different people from all walks of life every day, and each one of them is special to me.”