Published on December 30, 2021

Oaks Retires from Critical Care Unit

Debbie OaksDebbie Oaks, a longtime unit coordinator and monitor technician in the Critical Care Unit, has retired from North Mississippi Medical Center after 44 years of service.

Her mother, Dorothy Yates, worked as a nursing assistant at NMMC for many years, and Oaks volunteered as a candy striper. After graduating from Saltillo High School in 1973, she got a job working weekends in NMMC’s Resource Pool while attending Itawamba Community College in Fulton. After earning her associate degree in liberal arts, Oaks joined the Resource Pool full time before landing on 3 North, where she worked for about a year.

When her daughter, LaShonna, was born, Oaks took a year off to stay home with her. When she returned to work, she rejoined the Resource Pool and worked nights on 3 North, Medical Intensive Care Unit and Surgical Intensive Care Unit. When a daytime position opened in SICU in the late 1970s, she moved into that position and never left.

“I found this was my home,” Oaks said. “Our patients’ families are stressed. I always tried to maybe help them feel a little more at ease. My coworkers have become like family to me. Together, we worked to ensure our patients are given good quality care.”

With more than four decades under her belt, Oaks has witnessed many changes. “When I first started, there was no electronic medical record,” she said. “The unit coordinators transcribed the doctors’ orders.”

“One of the highlights of my time here is when we opened the heart program around 1981,” she said. “That was when we first started doing open heart surgery at NMMC, and I have seen the heart program grow and expand.”

Oaks was named as NMMC’s Employee of the Month in 2019. In nominating her, co-workers wrote that her sweet smile and caring attitude help ease the fears of patients’ families. “Her character, demeanor and kind spirit set her apart from anyone else,” one co-worker wrote. She was also nominated twice for an NMMC Excellence in Nursing Award.

“I appreciate all the leaders, mentors and coworkers I’ve had over the years,” Oaks said. “I am proud to have worked for North Mississippi Medical Center.”

Now that she’s retired, Oaks looks forward to spending more time with her daughter, LaShona (Jason) Taylor and 13-year-old grandson, Chase, who live in Bartlett, Tennessee, as well as her 93-year-old mother, who lives in Saltillo. She plans to tackle some projects around her house, travel, work in her yard and read. She attends Mayfield Church of Christ in Saltillo.

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