Dodson Closes 31-Year Career at NMMC
Karen Dodson, patient representative in the Critical Care Unit, recently retired with 31 years of service to North Mississippi Medical Center.
Karen graduated from Houston High School in 1976 and stayed home with her son for several years. She briefly worked for Reed’s Manufacturing in Tupelo before joining the NMMC staff as a CCU patient representative in September 1990. She loved the position so much, she made it her career. If you visited the CCU Waiting Area anytime over the past 31 years, chances are good you met Karen.
“I loved the job,” Karen says. “I never dreaded going to work. Every day was different. It was very family-oriented.”
The main reason she loved her job was the variety of people she connected with – not only patients’ families, but also doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, housekeepers and more. “We take care of our families,” she says. “We communicate families’ wishes to their loved one’s doctors. If we see that someone isn’t eating while they wait, we make sure they have something to eat. If a family member needs to speak with a chaplain or a social worker, we call them.” They also handle all the phone calls that come to the CCU Waiting Area for families who are there.
Karen often worked with church groups and other organizations that donated snacks, phone cards, meals and gift cards for CCU families. “Some churches even provided places for people from out of town to stay while their loved one was in CCU,” she says. “We got to know our families. We even had birthday parties for family members – one gentleman was turning 99 while he had someone in CCU. Our staff donated money so we could have him a little party there.”
She and her husband Larry, who most people know as “Honey,” live on a 100-acre farm in Amory next door to son Gary Gann and his wife Samantha. The farm is also home to mini cows, also known as zebu, as well as rescue horses and honeybees. “Gary and Samantha do the work and we just enjoy the animals,” Karen says. Their granddaughter, Ihle Gilmore (Jack), lives in Flowood.
For more than three decades, Karen worked 12-hour shifts, including every other weekend and holidays. Retirement will allow more time for travel, especially “girl trips,” as well as kayaking, camping and walking.