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For McHollin, kindness is always part of the service

Mar. 23, 2017, 9:10 AM

Environmental Services’ Terry McHollin is known for always having a kind word and willingness to help, no matter the task. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Editor’s note —
This is the third in a series of profiles on some of Vanderbilt’s most dedicated employees. All VUMC faculty and staff are encouraged to attend Celebrate — The difference YOU make every day on April 20 or 21 at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium. Please sign up for one of three sessions at VUMCcelebrate.com.
Terry McHollin checks the coffee cups along with the trash cans in patients’ rooms.
Serving coffee isn’t part of her job description as an environmental service tech, but if someone needs a fresh pour she will stop what she’s doing, wash her hands then head for the coffee pot — and still stay on schedule.

She’s the type of colleague who keeps a department running smoothly.

“When she’s not here, you know it,” said Brad Thompson, R.N., a clinical staff leader.
McHollin has worked at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital for 20 years. Most of that time, she has been assigned to the ninth floor, where she functions as a hostess as much as a housekeeper.

“Terry has always been so great to our staff, our patients and our visitors,” said Aaron Hirsch, MSN, R.N., manager of the Urologic Surgery Unit and the Surgical Stepdown Units on that floor. “She always has a kind word, she works hard and she makes people feel welcome to our unit.”

That kindness comes naturally to McHollin. It’s in her genes and her upbringing. She said she first encountered the trait in her grandmother, Rosa Lee Eason, who took care of her until she was 13 when she moved from Madison County, Alabama, to East Nashville, to live with her three brothers.

“I loved my grandmother,” she said. “I loved her cooking. I sat beside her, watching her fix chicken and biscuits.”

Her grandmother gave her advice for getting through life that she’s tried to abide by: “Watch what you say and be careful.” The kindness part she instilled by setting the example.

McHollin arrives to her workplace an hour early on weekdays, catching a city bus at 5 a.m. from her Madison-Rivergate neighborhood and then having breakfast in the hospital cafeteria before she starts her shift at 7 a.m. She was already at the hospital the morning of Jan. 22, 2016, when Nashville was experiencing its largest snowfall in 28 years.

“I got here on the bus then stayed overnight,” she said.

She was one of the employees who worked longer hours to keep things running smoothly until the snowstorm passed.

McHollin has a reputation for getting her work done, not complaining about it and usually doing it with a smile.

“I wish I had a team of her,” said Kasi Crawley, Environmental Services assistant manager. “It’s not just that she is one of my hardest workers. She is always positive. I can’t remember seeing her in a bad mood. She stays positive whether she’s got two discharges (vacated hospital rooms) to clean or nine discharges to clean.”

Her actions leave an impression on the people who come through the unit.

“When I call patients, they frequently tell me how hard she works and how nice and friendly she is,” said Edie Vaughn, R.N.

McHollin, who enjoys spending time with her two children and three grandchildren and binge-watching detective shows on television during her off time, said the people she works with make her feel appreciated.

“If have a birthday coming up, they make sure they throw me a party,” McHollin said. “I like that.”
One of her favorite experiences at VUMC occurred this past October on the day she was recognized for her 20 years of service.

“That day, my kids had come for the award,” she said. “I had figured I wasn’t going to be here 20 years. And I did it. I’m still here. I love my job because I get along with everybody.”

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