“If I Needed a Job Tomorrow I’d Come Back to JPS”

July 11th, 2019

When Mary Starr started working at JPS in 1954, her job was to flip burgers in the snack bar.

It didn’t take long before her career was the thing that was turned upside down, however. After only six months on the job she left her spatula and apron behind to become a nurse’s aide.

Mary Starr

Mary Starr

“It was about a year after that, in 1956, that I decided to take the test to get into LVN school,” Starr said. “I didn’t think I was going to pass the test, but I wanted to see what I could do. I did pass it, though, and that’s why I tell people you should never give up. Try it and you’ll be surprised at the things you can do.”

Starr said her new career was a dream come true. She loved being able to help people for a living, making life-long bonds with both colleagues and patients. After she got her Licensed Vocation Nurse training, Starr said she worked all over John Peter Smith Hospital. She started in the Medical Surgery Unit, moved to Pediatrics, bouncing from department to department in other parts of the hospital, filling in where she was needed. The only place she didn’t want to work was in the Emergency Department.

“I was afraid when the patients rolled through the door after a bad accident or with a gunshot wound that I would fall apart,” Starr said. “It seemed like so much pressure and I didn’t know if I would be good under those conditions.”

She found out the hard way what she was made of one day when she was alone on the floor and a critically injured patient was rolled through the door on a gurney.

“I had to get the IV going because I was the only one there to get the IV going,” Starr said. “I just did it, and later I couldn’t believe it. My supervisor told me later that she was so proud of me. That’s when I knew I could do it. I spent my last 39 years here in the Emergency Department.”

She worked there so long that her career spanned three Emergency Department locations in the hospital. When it came time to move to a fourth in 1998, she decided to retire.

“I miss the people the most,” Starr said. “When I come to the hospital, sometimes I still see people I worked with and I make sure the younger ones know how we do things at JPS. Sometimes I see patients when I’m out at the store. That’s always a great feeling.”

When she was working, Starr said she decided to take some extra shifts at another hospital to pay for a new porch she and her husband wanted to add to their home. After three days, she quit. She said it wasn’t the same as working at JPS and she was so unhappy at her part time job, she realized the porch wasn’t so important after all.

Looking back on her career, the veteran nurse said she wouldn’t have done things any other way. Even though she is a patient now, she still feels as if she is part of the team.

 “If I needed a job tomorrow, I’d come back to JPS and they’d probably take me, too,” Starr said. “You know why? Because at JPS we learned to do things right.”


Share this article!