Throughout her long career at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Cathy Bowers said she has tried "to help tell the hospital story."
"I have had the opportunity to work with so many great people here," she said. "I have seen some visionary leadership with our boards and our senior leaders."
Bowers paused Tuesday to recount her public relations tenure at the hospital, a job that officially ends Friday with her retirement.
The Hall County native began her career in 1973 as an assistant to the public relations, social services, volunteer services and patient representative departments.
She reported to public relations director LeTrell Simpson, who would later become vice president of corporate development. Simpson's promotion in the mid-1980s paved the way for Bowers to become public relations director, a title she has held since.
Public relations wasn't always her direction in life, however.
"I had a couple years of college and really thought I wanted to be a social worker, but then, I wasn't sure," said Bowers, speaking from her office in the Wisteria Building on the hospital campus. "I had done some volunteer work and wasn't sure what I wanted to do."
She recalled starting her job and telling Simpson that "she really wanted to be kept busy."
"I grew up on a farm and we were always very busy," Bowers said. "LeTrell gave me a lot of opportunities and after a while, I discovered that public relations was the area that I really enjoyed."
She went back to Brenau University and earned her degree in public relations and human resources management.
Bowers has seen the hospital evolve over the decades, including a major expansion in 1976 that included a new emergency room and east wing.
In 2009, the hospital opened its $180 million North Patient Tower, which features 96 surgical beds, 32 intensive care unit beds, a waiting room for the Ronnie Green Heart Center and 23 operating rooms and post-anesthesia care units.
These days, the Northeast Georgia Health System is developing plans to build a new 100-bed hospital in the River Place campus off Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway and what will be the new Ga. 347/Friendship Road in rapidly growing South Hall.
The hospital is scheduled for a 2015 opening.
"One of the joys of my job is seeing the pride that the community has in this hospital and the support it has given over the years," Bowers said.
"Part of what I have done in my career here is ... to make the community aware of the services that we have."
In retirement, Bowers, 62, plans on spending more time with family - she has three grandchildren - and doing things she enjoys, including gardening and activities at her church, First Baptist.
"None of us know how much time we have left, but I thought if I'm going to do some things with my family and some of the projects I like to do, I'd like to do them when I have the health to do it," she said.
"It was a tough decision, because I just really enjoy what I do (at the hospital)," Bowers added.
Time has ticked away quickly since she announced her retirement, "and I don't feel finished," she said.
"We have a great staff in here. I know that things will go on, but you want to leave things as finished as you can finish them," Bowers said.
The search for her successor is ongoing. Officials are "still looking and interviewing," she said.
Simpson, who retired in 2006, said she believes Bowers' departure leaves a void at the hospital.
"She has just done an outstanding job for the organization," she said. "She's very creative, but she is also an excellent manager and has built a wonderful staff, so she will be sorely missed.
"But if anyone deserves a good retirement, Cathy does."