Pen Bay Employee of Year, 80, has no thoughts of retiring
Rockport — When Judy Benner of Waldoboro won Pen Bay Medical Center's Employee of the Year Award, she was surprised and humbled.
“I never, ever expected it,” she said. She added that she felt there were others at the hospital who were more deserving than she.
Benner whose title is support partner, has worked in the Special Care Unit for 35 of her 37 years at Pen Bay. Among her responsibilities is ordering supplies and getting equipment for the nurses, answering phones, arranging patient transfers and helping the nurses when they need an extra hand.
The Special Care Unit, she explained is like an Intensive Care Unit, where there is a higher ratio to nurses to patients and procedures can be performed that could not be on a regular medical/surgical floor.
At one time, she was an emergency medical technician and volunteered on the Waldoboro ambulance crew, but she gave it up a number of years ago because her family, nearby in Waldoboro and Friendship, was concerned about her being out in bad weather. She was widowed more than 40 years ago.
At 80, Benner is enthusiastic about her job. “I haven't any thoughts of retiring,” she said. Part of what makes the job so enjoyable is the variety.
“You never know what you're going to do,” she said. In addition, she likes the people she works with very much, calling them “a fantastic crew.”
Benner acknowledged that one reason she might have been selected as Employee of the Year is that “I do a lot of different things that I really don't have to do.”
That was wholeheartedly confirmed by Director of Critical Care Nursing Services Sharon McDermott in a press release from the hospital. “Judy Benner is an outstanding employee who does all that she can to provide a positive experience for the patient and family. Like an air-traffic controller, she is the glue that holds the department together. She is always helpful, often anticipating what needs to be done and doing it without being asked. … Before the term was even formalized, Judy was the embodiment of 'patient-centered care.'”
Benner said this year's Christmas party was the first she had been to at Pen Bay, in part because parties in years past were more formal. This year, she said, she felt she had to go because the event honors the Employees of the Month and her colleagues in Special Care had nominated her as Employee of the Month earlier in the year. The Employee of the Year is chosen from among the Employees of the Month, she said.
As Employee of the Year, she received a check for $1,000 from Pen Bay President and CEO Wade Johnson. She said she plans to use some of the money to replace her storm doors, and she might also take a trip.
She was looking forward to an extended family Christmas celebration Friday, Dec. 27, at her home with a dozen or so relatives from Ellsworth and Pennsylvania, as well as nearby.
Sarah E. Reynolds is a reporter for the Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, hike and play word games.
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