Employees honored for dedication, commitment to UMHS

October 20, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Ann Okkerse, center, was honored for 45 years of service to UMHS.

For some of UMHS’ longest-tenured employees, Monday night was a chance to look back with pride — an opportunity to reflect on the decades they have spent working to make UMHS a national leader in patient care, education and research.

“Our health system is only excellent because of the people who work here,” said Dee Fenner, M.D., chief clinical officer of UH/CVC. She served as the keynote speaker at the annual UMHS Service Award Banquet, where the health system honored a group of 225 employees who have served the organization for 30, 40 or 45 years.

“Tonight, we celebrate the power of one — the power any one of you has to make a difference to our patients,” Fenner said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a nurse, a clerk who directs a family to the right area of the hospital or a person who cleans a patient’s room, you all make an impact.”

Joe Fournier, the UMHS chief human resources officer and host for the evening, said it was an honor to recognize people who have devoted their careers to UMHS. “The collective wisdom, knowledge and experience of the people we honored is staggering,” Fournier said.

“This event serves as a way to acknowledge the loyalty, commitment and pride of our long-tenured employees and their service to U-M.”

Ann Okkerse, a nurse in pediatric cardiology, was one of three employees recognized for working at UMHS for 45 years. She said despite her longevity, every day is a new and exciting challenge. “I absolutely love what I do. UMHS provides me the opportunity to teach families how to care for a sick child and that’s so rewarding each and every day.”

Rewarding, too, was the night for Kevin Doran, who has been with the organization for 40 years and now serves as a programming analyst for Health Information Technology and Services. With a career that has included time with laundry services, materiel services and now HITS, Doran saw the night “as a chance to network and connect with so many of the people I’ve seen over the years.”

He was gratified to be acknowledged by an organization that has given him so much. “You won’t find many people who started as a laundry guy and ended up as a programmer,” Doran said. “Over the years, people at UMHS put their trust in me and let me prove myself. There’s no substitute for that.”

Lori Wyatt, who was recognized for 30 years of dedicated service at UMHS, saw the night as a milestone on her journey within the health system. She began her career as a temp, became a clerk and now serves as a reading room coordinator in radiology.

“Tonight feels like a culmination of everything I’ve done here,” Wyatt said. “I’m not a doctor, but the institution is taking the time to recognize me and what someone like me does every day.”

Speaking to the honorees, Fenner said the health system is committed to putting “the right people in the right place with the right job. You are all the perfect examples of that.”

Herman Hawkins Jr. agreed. He has been with Environmental Services for 30 years, the last 11 of which he has served as a waste handler. He takes immense pride in his work. “Doing what I do is an important service to our patients and employees,” Hawkins said. “I wouldn’t trade my job for anything.”

To check out a complete list of service award recipients, click here. And be sure to congratulate and thank your colleagues for their dedicated service to UMHS!