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Northeast Georgia Medical Center honors employee for 50 years of service

POSTED: November 12, 2013 12:29 a.m.

Betty Toney was busy helping a co-worker with a problem when her manager asked her to stop what she was doing. 

Toney followed her manager out of the office and through the door in the back of the Walters Auditorium at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. As Toney stepped around the edge of the stage’s black curtain, she stopped, and her eyes began to water.

Nearly 50 of Toney’s co-workers stood Monday afternoon at a surprise recognition ceremony to applaud the 71-year-old patient access representative for 50 years of service. 

Many of those in attendance appeared in a short video tribute, congratulating Toney on reaching the milestone. 

Toney is the first employee of the hospital to make it to the half-century mark. 

Toney’s face reddened as she thanked her co-workers for their kind words.

Northeast Georgia Health System President and CEO Carol Burrell presented Toney with a Torch Award.

“Betty has been welcoming everyone with a great smile and a level of care that made you feel at home, almost as if the person taking care of you was your own mom,” Burrell said. “Co-workers, hospital staff and patients see Betty not as a fixture but as the exemplary image of what serving a patient with care and compassion looks like. I would say she epitomizes our values.”

Toney was 21 years old when she applied for a position as a ward secretary with then-Hall County Hospital on Nov. 11, 1963. Toney was hired on the spot the next day. 

“I’d planned to save money and go to nursing school, but my parents got sick,” Toney said. “... And by the time that all rolled around, the timing was just wrong so I thought I’ll just stay where I am. I’m in the medical field, and I know what’s going on so I’ll just stay where I am.”

Toney later accepted a position in the admissions department, where she stayed for 44 years before becoming an outpatient registrar in 2010. 

Over the years, more things have changed than stayed the same, Toney said, laughing.

Computers and electronic filing systems replaced typewriters and paper files. One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of being compassionate. 

“Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself,” Toney said. “I always think this could be my mother or this could be my father. I would want other people to treat them nice so I treat them like my family would want to be treated.”

Dana Mack, patient access manager, said it’s not unusual to hear patients praise Toney.

“She is phenomenal,” Mack said. “What really stands out is her empathy and her caring for the patients. It is not uncommon to get numerous compliments on her. The patients just say that she makes them feel at home, like they’re family.”

While some people might be ready to retire after half a century, Toney said she hasn’t even thought about it. 

“I never would have thought I’d have been here so long,” Toney said as a co-worker handed her a piece of cake. “It’s just my home away from home; it always has been. I don’t have any thoughts about (retirement) yet. Everybody asks me (when), but I just keep telling them as long as I’m in good health and my bosses like my work. I like it and I love to meet people.”


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