For 35 years, Wilson County employees provide eyewitness account to hospital’s history

It’s 1986, and Diane Driver, Tammy Driver and Doris Young walk into Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH) to start their first day. While their careers at VWCH took different paths, what they all have in common is a strong commitment to people — both their fellow coworkers and the patients. 

In addition, these three employees witnessed many new things happen at the hospital over the last 35 years. From electronic records and charts and electronic thermometers to computers in the workplace, telehealth, automated vital sign machines and shorter hospital stays. I guess you could say they have had a front row seat to hospital history. 

Plus, they were instrumental in the hospital’s ability to deliver excellent care to the patients of Wilson County. 

While Diane Driver only worked in two departments while at VWCH, during her tenure the hospital was owned by nine different companies. 

“Everything has improved. Vanderbilt has and will be very good for this hospital and surrounding communities,” Diane Driver said.

Diane began her career at VWCH working the third shift at the McFarland Lab facility. At that time, there was very little automation. Results were recorded on worksheets, and all were handwritten into patient charts. She then transitioned to become a blood bank and urinalysis section lead in 1992 before being promoted to day shift supervisor for the Hematology, Coagulation and Serology department. 

Today, as a medical technologist, she is responsible for processing and testing in the lab and deals with patients at all levels. She pointed out that during her tenure, she has witnessed several advances, which have allowed technicians to do more testing with greater accuracy and faster turnaround time. 

Terry Alcorn, a supervisor in the Clinical laboratory department, has worked with Diane for 10 years. In fact, Diane hired Alcorn into the organization.

She described Diane as “a great resource in the lab and someone who knows the right people to get things done. She is very knowledgeable in her field and has taught many medical laboratory technician students during their clinical rotations.” 

“Her transition to another shift enabled newer coworkers to benefit from her experience,” Alcorn said. “I cannot tell you how many times she has stayed late, come in early or given up vacation to ensure patient care comes first.”

In addition, Diane is the unofficial social coordinator for celebrations and goodbyes. 

“She goes out of her way to ensure a thoughtful token of appreciation is presented from the group. It wouldn't be much of a party without Diane's legendary ‘Pea Dip’ and Heath Bar Brownies,” Alcorn said. “Thank you for all you do for us and the patients!”

Diane Driver said she is most proud of her ability to think fast and problem solve. She is also proud of “the hundreds of students and new employees I helped train. Along the way I have worked with many smart and dedicated techs and phlebotomist. I truly love the work I do.”

As a registered nurse, Tammy Driver’s career has taken many different paths during her 35 years at VWCH. 

She began her tenure on the medical surgical floor but quickly moved to the OB/GYN/Newborn Nursery department, which was her dream job since nursing school. 

After 20 years of full-time service in that area, she transferred to the surgical department, but she couldn’t let go of her old department and remained a PRN in OB for years. 

She has also worked in preoperative testing, same-day surgery, endoscopy and radiology. She is always willing to help others in a pinch and has served in temporary roles in the physician offices and even taught CPR.

Her most cherished moments happened with OB and newborn nursing. 

“Just watching a premature or sick infant blossom into a thriving, healthy bundle of joy and to think that I may have had a small piece to do with that is all I need to make it through those long shifts. It was very gratifying to me to earn a national certification in newborn nursing,” Tammy said. 

Her coworkers describe her as an excellent nurse who is compassionate, selfless and a team player. They say she is no pushover and is not afraid to question a doctor or other coworkers if a patient's safety is at risk.

“Tammy is excellent to work with. She leaves nothing undone,” said Cindy Comer, a nurse in Recovery Unit — Day Surge, who has worked with Tammy for 10 years. “She really takes care of her patients and they love her. Her care and attention to detail can't be beat.”

In addition to being a coworker, her colleagues consider her a friend. 

According to Joe Armistead, Kesha Bailey and Mickie Leavell, Tammy is a gem. “She is very personable and funny and brings a touch of lightheartedness to each situation, helping to ease patients’ anxiety levels,” they said.

They also describe her as “breath of fresh air” in their Radiology department. As an expert, Tammy has elevated their department with her thoroughness and compassionate care. She works very well with the radiologists and technologists, ensuring that all procedures go as efficiently and as smoothly as possible. 

Doris Young, a licensed practical nurse, has filled a variety of roles in her 35 years as an employee at VWCH. During that time, she has seen a lot of changes, from safety needles and automated vital sign machines to electronic thermometers and computer charting. 

But the two things of which she is most proud during her time working at VWCH is giving her best to her patients and her work family. 

Throughout her tenure, she has worked in the following departments: Medical Surgery, A&D unit, orthopedic unit, pre-admission, the endoscopy lab (pre and post). She has also floated to ICU, psych, rehab and the ER. She currently serves in the Same Day Surgery Unit department, where she is responsible for assisting registered nurses in assessing, implementing, and evaluating care for various patients within the facility.  

Young shared a funny story that any dedicated professional can appreciate. 

“Way back when discharge papers were handwritten, I put my home number down instead of the office number. Patients called and left messages on my home answering machine that they needed an appointment. I called the office, made the appointment and then called the patient stating who I was, gave them the correct phone number and their appointment time,” Young said. 

She did all this without missing a beat.

Betsy Swoner, assistant director in Surgical Services, has worked with Young for 15 years. She calls Young very knowledgeable in surgery and especially orthopedics because of her prior experience working the orthopedic unit for so many years.

“Working with her over these years, we've become a family. We go through trials and hardships of life together, but we also go through accomplishments and milestones as well,” Swoner said. “What I love about Doris is she tells it like it is with us as nurses and patients as well. She is honest and hardworking and will help you without even asking. She is a very vital component of the surgical process here at Vanderbilt Wilson County beginning with the patient's initial phone call to collect a history all the way to discharging them after surgery. We are so grateful to have her here with us and hopefully many more years to come.”

Lynn Ray, who has worked with Young for five years, describes her as a great friend and someone you “can always depend on to complete any assignment given to her in preadmission testing. Don't let that LPN title fool you. Doris can take care of me any day.”