October 4, 2021

Verlyne Broadway was 17 when she came to The Medical Center to start the first job of her life, in the only place she would ever work.

She has survived or survived 10 US presidents, nearly a dozen Mississippi governors, nine or 10 vice chancellors, the rise of computers, mules, mercury thermometers, avocado refrigerators, the Village People, Betamax , the cable news eruption, the Great Recession, epidemics, pandemics and multiple doomsday predictions.

But the world isn’t over yet, and neither is the Broadway job at UMMC, where his current job helps make this world safe for the surgery he desperately needs.

She works in a department that she says is her “last stop” at UMMC, a place where her responsibilities are more personal and rewarding than her name suggests: Sterile Processing (SPD).

“The most interesting thing about my job is knowing that you play a role in the lives of people who are about to have surgery,” she said, “making sure the instruments are there. clean and sterilized properly.

“You put yourself in their shoes; if you were to have the operation yourself, you would like everything to be okay. “

As a certified central service technician, Broadway has been helping to ensure instruments are ready for the operating room for approximately 12 years now; but she has held other jobs since arriving at the medical center in 1971 and has maintained a recognized tenacity record with the award of a commemorative pin last Tuesday to mark her 50th working anniversary.

“This is the only 50-year-old pin I have ever handed out,” Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice-chancellor for health affairs and dean of the faculty of medicine, told Broadway. It has been six years since Frankie Gaines reaches the first milestone of 50 years.

“It’s such an honor,” Woodward said at the brief ceremony near the Broadway working area. “Thank you very much for your 50 years of service, it’s amazing.”

Apparently, this was only the second 50-year-old pin ever to be awarded to the medical center, and among those who witnessed the second pin were Broadway’s sister, Bettie Wilson from Jackson, and one of her daughters, Jackson’s Keisha Kimbrough, who grew up with a mom who, she said, “always came to work early, always worked hard for us and worked overtime.”

A native of Jasper County, raised in Paulding until the age of 14, Broadway was born the youngest of five children. “My mother was a housewife,” she said. His father was a farmer until he moved the family to Jackson and began building homes as a carpenter helper.

About three years later, Broadway, a 17-year-old student at Lanier High School who really wanted to work for a living, joined an employment program she calls “Business and Industry.”

“I saw other people at school who had nice clothes and had jobs,” she said. “I really wanted to work so I could buy clothes, I guess.”

She went to school for half a day and spent the rest at UMMC. “After I graduated, I stayed in the hospital,” she said.

In the field of obstetrics and gynecology, she began her first job, as a nursing assistant, in the days of nurses in white caps and gowns, intravenous fluids in glass bottles and mercury in thermometers .

The medical center had only been open for 16 years, and in the cafeteria, Broadway could see traces of where a wall once served as a barrier. “One side for White and one side for Black,” she said.

“But they had knocked down the walls by then; it was open when I walked in,” she said. “And I was well received here.”

As the first person in her family to enter healthcare, she worked for three years alongside the people she once hoped to be.

“It was my intention to become a nurse,” she said, “but I got distracted along the way. I was a pretty good student, but I wasn’t very good at math and science. , and I knew you had to be good at it. “

Of course, she was good at money; his years at UMMC began to add up.

“On the one hand, I just needed to work,” she said. “That’s why I stayed. I had three kids, but I became a single parent. I had to work and work was close to home. I just got sick thinking about going somewhere else, to a new environment.”

But, inside the medical center, at least, his surroundings have changed. She moved next to what she says is called “the suction and equipment department” in orthopedics.

“I was talking to one of my daughters the other day,” she said. “You know how when you have a broken leg you go into traction? You had to know how to put traction on the bed for patients.”

His inter-medical center journey was not over. After about four years, she lit up on Central Supply, starting, more or less, with a blank sheet of paper. Lots of linens, in fact. And dresses.

“The laundry would come out of the laundry and we would fold it and make the packages of laundry and then sterilize them,” she said. They pushed them into the autoclave, a sort of pressure cooker / steam cleaner the size of an industrial oven. And so, Broadway became a bacteria, virus, and spore killer – a skill that would come in handy in his “last stop”, which came next.

There in the basement of the medical center, since about 2009, Broadway has been sterilizing trays and instruments, including those intended for surgery – “from start to finish,” she said. “When they come in, they go to the decontamination area and we make sure they’re clean.

“We make sure that nothing is missing. “

She places the instrument sets in a sterilizer and puts “the organic” in the incubator to make sure all living bacteria are dead. “And then it goes to the ground whenever it cools down,” she said. “It takes about three hours.”

Broadway manages instrument sets full of hemostats, scissors, forceps, retractors, retractors, scalpels, laparoscopic instruments. They are essential for specialties such as orthopedics, neurology, general surgery, ophthalmology, transplant surgery and more. “There are so many,” she said.

How much? “Some platters have up to 160 instruments,” she said. “And there are probably over 750 different sets.” There are trays for different areas – “at Wiser Hospital for mothers and babies, surgery trays for the operating room, and emergency trays, which are smaller.

“There are trays that they use on the floor to drain the sutures,” she said.

When she’s not killing germs, she enjoys watching cowboys shoot each other. Her favorite TV show, she said, is “Westerns”. She also enjoys reading – mysteries and, of course, westerns.

“I also love watching the news,” she said. “One of my hobbies is watching the news all day and keeping up with the news.”

Broadway can watch the news during the day because she works at night. She took a late shift some time ago when her mother had to have surgery.

“Someone needed to be with her at all times once she got home,” she said. “I took this shift so I could see about her during the day.” With a brother and a sister, she shared custody of her mother.

“I appreciated being allowed to work those hours when my mother was sick,” she said. “She never really got over it.”

About three years ago her mother passed away, but Broadway has stuck with the final hours, which are now 5 to 1:30 a.m., she said. “The shift has been so good for me, I really don’t like getting up in the morning.”

However, she has no problem with afternoons, nor with Saturdays and Sundays, said Shenequa Moton, Acting Director of Sterile Processing.

“She is an example for the whole department. She rarely took any time off. Last year we finally forced her to stop working on weekends.”

Even then, Broadway doesn’t take it too easily; on weekends, she babysits the youngest of her six grandchildren, aged around 17 months. “She keeps me going,” Broadway said.

Come Monday, Broadway is still going, said Clarence Williams, one of his supervisors, who was on hand for the pinning Tuesday. Wearing a gold-on-black tiara and belt with the inscription “Cheers to 50”, Broadway was appropriately crowned, as far as Williams is concerned.

“I’ve been at the medical center for about two years,” Williams said, “and for the past two years I’ve told my staff that she’s royal. She’s exceptional. I have to tell her, ‘Hey, slowly get off and take a few days off.

“First when she comes in she asks, ‘What do you need me to do? Where should I go ? And she has a way of speaking to the young people on the team. They listen to her, and she has a way of calming them down when they need to. “

Most of the employees are young people, Broadway said. “Teach them? Young people can make circles around me.

Broadway is 67 years old and is sometimes asked if she would like to retire. As of Tuesday, September 28, 2021, at least, she wasn’t sure.

“I need it, I really need it,” she said. “But so many other people have retired and left; I should probably stay awhile.”

If she were to retire, she said, I guess I would find something to do at home. I like to tinker with flowers. Lilies, whatever flowers I hold onto, I love to see them grow.

“People used to give my mother a lot of flowers, and I rooted them and planted them in the yard.”

So she would continue in the calming and cultured ways described by Williams – just in a different realm.


This press release was produced by the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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