Earnestine Joiner has been serving patients at Regional One Health for an amazing 57 years. She currently oversees patient intake at our trauma center.
For Earnestine, it is a blessing to be able to come to work each day and help people in their time of need.
While she has witnessed many changes in her nearly six decades with the health care system, she is as committed as always to treating people the way she would want to be treated.
Earnestine Joiner was in her mid-20s when a friend stopped by to talk about her new job at what was then John Gaston Hospital.
When her friend said she could get Earnestine a job at the hospital as well, Earnestine initially turned her down. “I told her I didn’t have a job because my husband had told me I didn’t have to work,” Earnestine laughed. “She said, ‘You need to get a job!’”
Earnestine decided to give it a try, and on April 16, 1964, she headed to the downtown Memphis hospital to talk with her friend’s supervisor. “She asked me when I could start,” Earnestine said. “I told her, ‘As soon as possible, and you can put me wherever you need me.’”
An amazing 57 years later, Earnestine’s work ethic hasn’t changed one bit.
“Miss J,” as she is affectionately known by almost six decades worth of colleagues, is a calming and reliable presence at Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center, where she registers patients who are brought to the hospital for emergency medical treatment.
“I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve worked here,” Earnestine said. “I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is thank God for being here this long and being able to do the things I do.”
Regional One Health staff recently celebrated Earnestine Joiner’s 57th anniversary of working at the hospital. For Earnestine, coming to work each day is a blessing, and she’s grateful for the opportunity to serve patients.
Director of Nursing Charles Lapsley, MSN, RN, said Earnestine’s experience and humanity mean the world to the trauma center team. “When I think about trauma, I think about Miss J,” he said. “She stands tall for our patients. She’s always been an advocate and put the patients first.”
For Earnestine, that’s the best part of the job. While she’s held a number of positions at Regional One Health in her 57 years, she has almost always had direct contact with patients and their families – and the opportunity to help others in their time of need is what keeps her going.
“Working here, you meet a lot of people, and you meet a lot of people who need help. I always try to keep a smile on my face and make people feel good,” Earnestine said. “If someone needs something, I try to get it for them. I want to treat people like I would want to be treated.”
Earnestine speaks from personal experience. Along with working at Regional One Health, she has spent time as a patient at the hospital.
Several years ago, Earnestine was rear-ended while driving to visit a family member. The impact threw her into the front of her vehicle, and she required 81 stitches to close a wound on her head.
“I was here for two weeks, and then I did my rehab here…and then I was able to come home,” she said. “So, it’s a joy to do for someone else what people did for me when I needed help.”
Incredibly enough, those weeks Earnestine spent as a patient at Regional One Health is among the only times she hasn’t reported for work at the hospital.
She rarely calls in sick. Aside from her car accident, the only time she remembers calling in is when she crushed a finger in her car door…sometime in the 1960s. On the other hand, Lapsley said, Earnestine is often called in when extra staff is needed – and always says yes.
Nursing Director Charles Lapsley says Earnestine is a calming presence at the trauma center. “She always puts our patients first,” he said.
Earnestine’s children – three sons and one daughter – even joke about their mom’s loyalty to her employer. “My daughter always said, ‘Mom can be tired, laying down in bed, but if you mention Regional One Health she’s up and ready to go!’” Earnestine laughed. “I enjoy coming to work every day. I don’t like sitting at home. I miss it when I take vacation!”
For Earnestine, that’s simply how a person is supposed to behave.
“My father told me that if I got a job, I should be on time, do my work and do it well,” she said. “That’s been in me all my life.”
Fortunately, Earnestine has found a career that fulfills her soul – her love of people, her desire to help others, her faith in God. “I was always taught to put God first – to put my hand in his and let him lead me,” she said. “As long as the Lord allows me to get up and come to work, I will. I like people and I like doing for people. I like doing for the patients.”
Not surprisingly, Earnestine said she planned to spend her 57-year work anniversary doing just that – and doing it with a grateful heart.
“I plan on sitting at my desk and doing my work – the same thing I do every day,” she said. “I feel like I could do 57 more years if the good Lord’s willing!”
To hear more about Earnestine’s story, check out this Bright Spot feature on WREG News Channel 3.
Regional One Health is proud to have Earnestine as part of our family. To support our team and Health Care Heroes like Earnestine, visit regionalonehealthfoundation.org