Sometimes JC Malone likes to joke that he’s been at Regional One Health his whole life. There’s a lot of truth in that statement, considering Malone was born at Regional One Health before later embarking on what is now a 50-year career at the hospital.
“I joke that when my mom came back for her checkup she just left me here,” he said with a laugh.
Malone celebrated 50 years of employment in the pharmacy department at Regional One Health on Oct. 11. He didn’t set out for a long pharmacy career. In fact, a friend told Malone about job openings at what was then known as John Gaston Hospital. He decided to apply, and began work as a pharmacy assistant in October 1967.
In 1973 Malone went through a career development program to become a medication specialist, which eventually changed names to the current pharmacy technician position.
In the early years Malone worked in the basement of the Crowe Research Building at University of Tennessee Health Science Center where he manufactured large batches of medications, including Milk of Magnesia, Robitussin and Potassium Chloride.
“Somehow to this day I think I made so much Robitussin I still remember how much of everything goes in it,” he said.
Technology has changed through the years, and Malone no longer makes large batches of medications. Today he spends his evening shifts in the IV room preparing intravenous therapy infusions for patients, a job he’s filled since 2004.
Other than operating rooms, Malone’s work is in the most sterile part of the hospital. He makes medications for all patients every four hours, fills new orders as they come up and prepares extra batches of medications that are available for the next shift.
Whether it’s antibiotics or cardiac drugs, Malone is responsible for IV infusions used across Regional One Health, and has a hand in many patient’s stories. He often thinks about those people his work touches, even if he’s never met them.
I pray for the patients,” he said. “I think about them all the time. I tried to speak to them when I make deliveries. That’s a good habit my mother taught me. I think about them and I hope they think about me, too.”
Malone’s jobs and titles have changed through the years but one thing hasn’t: his dedication to provide compassionate care to every patient, even if he rarely has personal interaction with the people who take the medications he prepares.
It’s the patients he mentions when asked what keeps him going for 50 years strong. He also reminisces about co-workers, some of whom retired decades ago. He calls these men and women friends, not co-workers.
“There are a lot of great memories,” he said. “I’m grateful. God has put great pharmacists in my life.”
The admiration is mutual.
“I appreciate working with JC for his years of experience and his willingness to share the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime of working in pharmacy,” said Justin Griner, Pharm.D., BCPS, Emergency Room Department pharmacist. “He’s dedicated to the patients at Regional One Health. He consistently encourages and has an ability to put the ups and downs of life into perspective.”
Malone points to his mother’s influence for his positive attitude that leads him to always think of others first. He said it’s important to sow seeds in other people’s lives, much like has been done for him to reap his own life’s rewards.
“God has been mighty good to me so why should I do anything less? I tell people to get a vision first and then the mission is how to go about accomplishing that vision,” he said. “I think about the space program. It seemed like they went straight to the moon. But I heard an astronaut say they had to make a course adjustment every 15 minutes. Once you get moving, keep that vision even if the mission changes. My mother taught me that.”