Working for the same company or in the same position for more than 20 years is almost unheard of today. According to Forbes, the average employee in today’s society stays at each of their jobs for about 4.5 years before moving on to another opportunity.
Of North Arkansas Regional Medical Center’s 850 employees, several have called NARMC home for decades. Almost 22 percent of NARMC team members have been with the healthcare system for more than a decade while almost 9 percent for more than 20 years.
In 1978, Kathy Looper began her career at Boone County Hospital in Admissions. Two years later, she found her place in the Accounting Department, which is where she still is today. Throughout her 40 years at NARMC, she has seen the healthcare system grow and expand as technology has advanced. She recalls manually typing financial information into a Burrows posting machine during her early days at NARMC. Today, charges are automatically entered into the computer system. Currently, as the Assistant Controller, she handles audits and budgeting.
For Kathy, there has never been a reason to look for work anywhere else.
“I love my job and never wanted to pursue this type of work anywhere else,” she said.
Since opening in 1950, the hospital has seen several changes, including a name change. Kathy began her career at Boone County Hospital--- a for-profit, county-owned hospital, but now works for North Arkansas Regional Medical Center--- a non-profit hospital governed by a board of directors. The community voted in 1996 in favor of NARMC becoming a 501c3 organization. Not-for-profit status allows NARMC to care for patients that otherwise would not be able to afford it.
Joint Care Coordinator, Sonya Seay, has been a part of the NARMC team for 26 years and sees the benefits of non-profit status daily.
“It is a great benefit for our patients,” she said. “Not all patients in our rural community can afford care, but NARMC makes sure that everyone is taken care of.”
Sonya began working for NARMC in 1991 as a Nurse Assistant. She went on to become a certified LPN. She has worked in the Medical Surgery Unit and now works with orthopedic patients.
Sonya did not plan on a career in healthcare, but in 1991, she quickly fell in love with caring for patients. She knew then that healthcare was her passion. As NARMC grew, the need for an orthopedic program became apparent. Sonya worked with surgeons, Dr. Justin Cutler and Dr. Tarik Sidani, to implement an award-winning program. Recently, NARMC earned a 5-star rating from Healthgrades for total knee replacement.
“It is an honor to be a part of this team,” Sonya said. “We put our patients first and are focused on providing quality care for every procedure.”
In 1980, at 20-years-old, Fred Looper began his career at NARMC as an orderly in the Surgery Department. After a year, he became a Scrub Tech and then several years later he became a First Assistant to several surgeons. When Fred decided to go to Nursing School at North Arkansas College, he transferred to the Sterile Processing Department. Upon graduating in 1988, he began working the evening shift as the ER Charge Nurse, along with days in Sterile Processing. In 1994, Fred was assigned to a special project in Materials Management. He used his clinical background to consolidate inventory and soon became the manager of Materials Management. Since 1994, he has taken on extra responsibility whenever needed. He has managed rural health clinics, housekeeping and laundry.
Thirty-seven years later, Fred speaks fondly of his NARMC experiences. When asked why he has continued to serve at NARMC for almost 40 years, he smiles and says, “The people here really are my family. They have been here for me throughout so many of my life experiences, including my own health emergency.”
August 1, 2015, started out as a typical summer day for Fred. He spent most of the day outside chopping wood preparing for a birthday party. Later that evening as guests started arriving, he began having chests pains. As a nurse, he knew that he needed to get to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. As he entered NARMC’s ER, he immediately saw familiar faces. Within minutes, he was told he was having a heart attack, but he felt completely calm the entire time he was in the ER.
“I had no fear,” Fred recalls. “I have seen this team work so many times. I knew I would be taken care of.”
For these long-time NARMC team members, the hospital is more than an employer---it is home. They built their careers here and are proud to be a part of the care that NARMC provides to the community.