My Hennepin life – “Solid Gold”
In the last 50 years, our organization has changed names three times: Hennepin County General Hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center, and Hennepin Healthcare. We have had thousands of patients walk through our doors and more than eight CEOs and Hospital Administrators, but only one Sharon Presley.
Anniversaries are important passages of time and reaching a 50th anniversary of any kind is truly a milestone. For one-half of a century, Sharon (or Ms. Sharon as she is known to many of us) of the Mail Center has been showing up to work at Hennepin Healthcare.
She began her career at Hennepin on August 6, 1973. Sharon started out working part-time in the Food Services department on the patient tray line. She then transferred to what was known as the Adabec department – essentially like an internal courier service. The Adabec team was a 24-hour department that delivered mail, medical charts, lab tests, x-rays, and other items to on-campus departments. Her starting wage in 1973 was less than $4 per hour, but she knew that she’d get raises along the way.
The Mail Center is an integral part of our organization, sending and receiving vital information important to the care of the patients we serve. Deliveries like lab tests and results, medications, and medical record information need to get to the correct person or department in an efficient manner. Sharon cares about the Mail Center and that the job is done right – she says it is in her blood.
Many reasons have kept Sharon at Hennepin Healthcare for these last 50 years, including the need for good people around her – those she has worked with are like family and she regularly checks in on those that visit the Mail Center. Sharon feels that having this steady connection to others can help in times of difficulty and hopes her kind and willing ear can make a difference for those around her.
The incredible care Hennepin Healthcare provides for the community is another reason Sharon continues working here. While she didn’t provide direct patient care, as a runner in the Adabec department Sharon saw first-hand how effective care could depend on a timely delivery. She cared about the patients in the Stab Room, felt for pediatric patients, and as a lifelong resident of Minneapolis, felt an obligation to her community. “We care for people that have tough issues to overcome,” Sharon says.
The Mail Center team has long been involved with students and interns from Project SEARCH and Step-Up, and being a mentor is something near and dear to Sharon’s heart. Through these programs, she can make an impact on young people’s lives while teaching skills that help them find their strengths. She especially enjoys Project SEARCH students – she sees their confidence grow as they accomplish goals and learn life-long career skills. “It makes my heart happy to see these students out working in the community,” says Sharon, and she learns something from each of them.
On that same note, when asked if she has any words of wisdom for new employees, Sharon’s advice is simple: learn what you can. Transfer to different departments if something interests you and take advantage of classes and tuition reimbursement: these are all ways to grow within the organization.
A 50th anniversary is referred to as a golden anniversary, symbolizing the many years one spends mining a wealth of experience. Gold is precious and valuable, good and reliable – these words truly reflect Sharon. Now with 50 years of service under her belt and a legacy of compassion and kindness, does she have any plans to retire? “Eventually,” Sharon says.