MSHA’s team member No. 1 celebrates 60 years of service


Phyllis Hamilton

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Plenty of teams and businesses like to claim “We’re No. 1!” Phyllis Hamilton can truly say she’s No. 1, and that will never change.

The 78-year-old administrative assistant for the lab department at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) celebrates her 60th anniversary with the hospital on June 2. Hamilton has worked for the facility since 1952, when it was Memorial Hospital, which later became JCMC. When Mountain States Health Alliance was formed in 1998 with JCMC as its main hub, Hamilton was officially listed as the health system’s first employee: Team member No. 1.

She still reports for work every day at the same position she’s held for six decades. What keeps her going?

“I enjoy working with people,” Hamilton said.

Her remarkable achievement was celebrated by MSHA on Thursday, May 31, with a surprise ceremony at JCMC. Hamilton was given a crystal bowl and a rocking chair with her name on it, and it was announced that the Lab conference room will be named in her honor: the Hamilton Conference Room.

The specially engraved rocking chair is usually reserved for venerated retirees, but Hamilton said she has no plans to retire any time soon.

As he presented the chair, MSHA President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht joked, “Phyllis, I don’t think you’ll ever retire, so we decided to go ahead and give you your rocking chair now.”

Hamilton took it all in stride. “Thank you very much,” she said as she accepted all the gifts, and concluded the proceedings with a grin, telling media and MSHA board members, “As Minnie Pearl would say, ‘I’m just proud to be here.’”

Even a broken hip earlier this year hasn’t stopped her. Most people would have retired, but after missing work while she recovered from the injury, Hamilton is set to return to her office on Monday, June 4.

“She’s got a work ethic that’s second to none,” said Dr. Sandra Brooks, a pathologist who has worked with Hamilton for many years. “The first thing that comes to mind about her is dedication.  I have never known anybody so dedicated to her position and the hospital.”

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