Jennifer Blythers, an environmental services specialist at UAB Hospital is 2007’s UAB Employee of the Year.



How does it feel to be UAB’s Employee of the Year? Jennifer Blythers was so stunned by the honor she wasn’t really sure herself.

And then a co-worker walked by: “Hello, celebrity.”

“And when she said that, I said, ‘You know what? That’s how it feels,’” Blythers says. “Now I know how it feels to be a celebrity.”

Blythers, an environmental services specialist, was chosen as the 2007 UAB Employee of the Year by the Employee of the Month Committee. The group had 12 highly deserving candidates, says Jason Turner, chair of the committee.

Blythers says was shocked to learn of her selection and says her immediate response was that she didn’t believe she was deserving. “I was excited, but I didn’t think I was worthy of it,” she says. “Employee of the Month was nice, but this was too much for me to handle. It touched my heart and made me feel good.”

Employees of the Month for FY 2006-07
October – Michelle Henry, research specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology
November – Elizabeth Varghese, financial associate in the School of Education
December – Amy Owens, Campus and Community Services specialist
January – Aeron Gault, director of information systems and senior systems analyst, Psychology
February – Ted Clark, personnel generalist in Preventive Medicine
March – Hank Black, UAB Media Specialist
April – Jennifer Blythers, UAB Hospital environmental services specialist
May – Michael Maner, Webmaster for the Human Resource Management Organizational Department
June – Starla DeBord, nurse clinician in Perioperative Services
July – Tim Sullivan, Campus Services and Grounds manager
August – Fay Carroll, messenger in Hematology and Oncology
September – Mary Alice Crum, manager of Molecular Diagnostics and Immunology Lab

Glad to help
Blythers was April’s employee of the month. She said at the time that she viewed her job as more than just cleaning. She believes she’s here to help people.

“I’m glad to do anything for anybody if I can,” she says.

Calee Johnson, a medical caseworker in Medical Social Services, happened to be on the receiving end of Blythers’ helping hand earlier this year.

Johnson, who is physically challenged, found herself in a restroom on the North Pavilion in a situation where she couldn’t move as she needed without taking a severe risk of falling and injuring herself. After a few minutes, Johnson says she finally worked up the courage to ask for help. Blythers was in the restroom and said she’d be glad to lend a hand.

“I was thanking her and apologizing to her profusely for having to ask for her help,” Johnson says. “Her reply was, ‘No, don’t thank me. I thank you for giving me the chance to help someone today.’ Now, I was just beside myself and was tearing up because she was so sweet and respectful to me and thanked me for giving her the chance to help someone. Her unexpected reaction to my situation helped me retain my dignity in an otherwise embarrassing situation.

“A few minutes later, I gave her a really big hug and told her how much I appreciated the way she treated me. I was teary for the rest of the day, and even now I am so touched.”

Blythers says she and Johnson reconnected at her Employee of the Month party earlier this year.

“She just expressed her thanks to me again, and I wanted to let her know how much I appreciated her kindness and that I wouldn’t have been selected employee of the month if it wasn’t for her,” Blythers says. “I just told her thank you. That’s what we did to each other — just said thank you.”

‘I’m a hostess’
Those who have worked with Blythers through her 14 years at UAB say that’s just the type of person she is – kind, sincere and hardworking.

“Jennifer provided environmental service support to Hospital Administration for several years,” says Linda Cole, an executive assistant in Waldrum General. “She was a member of our team and played an important role in helping to ensure that the administrative area was cleaned and stocked with the appropriate supplies. Jennifer is always friendly, courteous and professional.

“UAB Hospital’s mission is to provide the highest quality of care and service to our patients, family members, visitors and employees and this is what Jennifer provides on a daily basis.”

Michael Hill, manager in Environmental Services, says Blythers is “just plain friendly” and takes pride in the work she does throughout her area of the hospital.

“The North Pavilion second floor is an extremely busy area with lots of traffic, very high profile,” Hill says. “This is the first area our visitors pass through when entering the hospital. However difficult the task, Jennifer has been able to maintain this area and set the tone for what UAB visitors can expect throughout their hospital visit.”

Blythers says she loves to come to work every day and says her supervisors – Hill, Anthony Patterson and Ed Crump – along with the people who work at the information desk make her days fun. And she’s especially thankful that her supervisors tell her they appreciate her work. “There’s not a day that goes by when Mr. Patterson doesn’t come through here and pick up a piece of paper or tell me ‘Jennifer, you do good work.’ It means so much that my managers take the time to notice.”

And Blythers says she would be remiss if she didn’t thank people like Johnson for giving her the chance to lend a helping hand.

“That’s the type of person I am,” Blythers says. “And during the day I’m a hostess. I’m not just a housekeeper. I help people get where they’re going. I do a lot of things. That’s just me. That’s just the type of person I am whether I’m in the hospital or out on the street.”