Pictured: SGMC Assistant Administrator of Human Resources Johnny Ball, SGMC Hospital Hero Award Recipients Irene Brown and Annette Owens, and SGMC Chief Executive Officer Randy Sauls. The Hospital Authority of Valdosta & Lowndes County, GA presented its monthly Hospital Hero award at the board of directors meeting on Wednesday. Recipients included registered nurse Annette Owens, and patient care technician Irene Brown, both of which were nominated on South Georgia Medical Center’s behalf for the Georgia Hospital Association’s annual awards for exemplary service. Owens and Brown will compete with award nominees from throughout Georgia. Winners will be announced at the end of April.Annette Owens, RN, was nominated for the GHA Lifetime Achievement Award. Annette’s 38 years of nursing service exemplifies serving Georgia’s hospital community with distinction and humility for many years. She is a powerhouse of knowledge that handles the toughest situations with extraordinary effectiveness and resolve. From sexual assault cases involving children to major traumas coupled with bed shortages, Annette always manages to do what is right for her patients.Annette works as Administrative Coordinator/House Supervisor for our 285-bed main campus, a role she has fulfilled for 32 years. During this time, the building has tripled in size, a dozen other service lines were added, emergency department utilization has tripled and staff now exceeds three thousand. As the 3pm to 11pm Administrative Coordinator, Annette and the Administrator-on-Call are responsible for “everything.” She and her team manage the “fires” (literal and figurative) that pop up and resolve problems as they occur. Annette exemplifies the best in leadership and caregiving. Her most vivid memories are the difficult ones. There was the accident in the fog on Interstate-75 involving multiple automobiles and one of SGMC’s own ambulances and paramedics. She said the task of keeping everyone focused and functional amid the distress of the disaster that night was enormous. She has endured the emotional toll of telling countless family members of a loved one’s death. She was recognized by the US Navy for managing the autopsies and aftercare of the Blue Angel pilots that crashed several years ago near Moody Air Force Base. On another occasion, Annette led the implementation of the emergency operations plan when an Earthquake shook the five-story SGMC South Tower. In every situation, SGMC counts on Annette!She explains, “It boils down to the fact that I love what I do. It is not a job to me but it is a calling.” Annette recognized years ago that there was a great need to support coworkers who are dealing with difficult situations. Annette works with the Critical Incident Stress Management team and has lead unit devotionals at shift change. She always has a listening ear and words of practical advice for her peers. “I tell folks that SGMC signs my checks but that I work for another ‘Boss.’ I believe that as long as I meet God’s expectations of me, then I will have surely met the hospital’s expectations of me.” Irene Brown, Emergency Department patient care technician (PCT), was nominated for the GHA Hospital Hero Award for her actions that went beyond the call of duty. Back in September, 2014, a juvenile male was reported missing. Irene had been working in the ED and heard a call come in reporting a young male with behavioral health issues was missing in the vicinity of the hospital.As Irene was leaving work that afternoon, she spotted a young male matching the description of the missing child wandering around the hospital parking lot. Irene lovingly approached the child and asked him a few questions. She determined it was the missing child. Irene contacted a Lowndes County deputy, AJ Johnson, who was on duty in the ED. Both the deputy and Irene stayed with the child until the Valdosta Police Department arrived on scene. Because of Irene’s concern and willingness to get involved with this troubled youth, the young boy was returned safely to his guardians. That afternoon, Irene left the premises and went on about her business. She made no mention of her good deed. It wasn’t until weeks later when the Lowndes County Deputy came into the Emergency department that Irene’s supervisor and other coworkers learned of her citizenship.As the adoptive mother of several developmentally delayed children, Irene works full time as a PCT and is in college full-time to become a social worker. SGMC congratulates and salutes its Hospital Heroes and GHA award nominees.