Long-term Loyalty: Medical Center Celebrates Employee Anniversaries

Gwen Hicks
Photos by David Christopher

Left to right: Post-Anesthesia Care Unit nurses Evelyn Buscar, RN; Evelyn Banzon, RN; Eileen Brown, RN; and Gwendolyn Hicks, RN, all celebrated a 20-year anniversary at the Medical Center.

By Jennifer Martin

To Gwendolyn Hicks, RN, it seems like just a moment ago that she was attending her five-year anniversary dinner at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago. But recently, Hicks celebrated her 20th year at the Medical Center with a reception and dinner at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).

If the time has gone by fast, Hicks said, it’s because she feels at home in her job. “Our area of nurses is like a family,” said Hicks, who works in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) recovery room in Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital. “Many of us have been here for 20 years. We started together, and it’s a really nice unit.”

On October 21, Hicks joined more than 1,100 of her Medical Center coworkers celebrating anniversaries of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years at the 2010 Employee Service Award Reception. The celebrants enjoyed cocktails and live jazz music along with the ceremony and dinner.

More than a dozen Medical Center administrators gave special presentations thanking employees for their long years of service. They read aloud the names of the 26 employees who shared 35-year anniversaries and the 13 employees of 40 years.

“The success of our mission as an institution, providing superior health care in a compassionate manner, is dependent on the dedication and skill of our employees and staff,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. “These employees whom we honor at this event have shown exceptional commitment to the Medical Center and its patients. Their service is greatly appreciated.”

Surrounded by the vintage aircraft and locomotives of the MSI atrium, the staff members shared many memories from years gone by. For Patricia Blynas, who was celebrating her 40-year anniversary, starting her career at the Medical Center was partly a matter of expediency.

Her mother was a secretary for Michael Roizen, MD, the anesthesiology chair who coauthored five bestsellers on aging and wellness. Blynas, who was living at home at the time, took a job performing EKGs and rode to work every morning with her mother.

“The years just started piling up,” said Blynas, now an EKG technician at the Adult Heart Station in Mitchell Hospital. “Even after I got my own house, my mother came and picked me up every morning. The car seat reclined, and she would have a pillow and blanket for me so I could sleep on the way to work,” Blynas added with a laugh.

Earl Wilson said his rigorous college training helped prepare him for his hectic job as a supervisor in the Department of Radiology.

“When you have about 20 urgent radiology requests, and you have only six radiologic technologists on shift, you have to learn to control the stress,” said Wilson, a 10-year employee. “But you do what you’ve got to do. We’re busy every second, but we get it worked out.”

Wilson said he frequently calls physicians to determine which general procedure radiology exams are needed for life-threatening emergencies and which ones can wait a few minutes. He added his team members are quick, efficient and expert in what they do.

“Our specialty is delivering expert care at the Medical Center, even if it’s expert cleaning of the rooms,” he said. “It all goes back to the patients. That’s who we serve.”

Jennifer Bordy began her career five years ago at the University of Chicago in the Human Resources Department. Today, she is a human resources administrator for the University of Chicago Physicians Group.

“I really like the people I work with,” said Bordy, who works in the Burr Ridge office. “Also, I think the Medical Center is obviously making a difference in people’s lives. A lot of people find it to be a very important part of their job. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.”

As Time Goes By

To provide some perspective on how many years have passed since our longest-term employees first joined the Medical Center, administrators noted some events of yesteryear at the reception:

35 years ago (1975)
•    Gasoline was 44 cents a gallon
•    “Saturday Night Life” premiered on NBC
•    Disco was the popular new dance
•    Paul Simon recorded his album “Still Crazy After All These Years,” which won a Grammy Award
•    “Jaws” was the new thriller box office hit
•    The Altair 8800 was the world’s first commercially successful personal computer

40 years ago (1970)
•    “The Flip Wilson Show” first aired on NBC
•    Apollo 13 almost didn’t make it home
•    The U.S. voting age was lowered from 21 to 18
•    “Patton” won seven Academy Awards
•    “Doonesbury” debuted in the comic pages
•    The Beatles officially disbanded
Jennifer BordyEarl Wilson
 Patricia Blynas
 Jennifer Bordy
 Earl Wilson
Patricia Blynas