Since 1968, Shirley Murphy has seen her share of changes at The Memorial Hospital.
She’s sat through several administrations and the construction of an addition.
Through it all, she worked the switchboard as a receptionist, had a stint in the business office and for the past 10 years has offered her time as a Pink Lady volunteer.
Now, she and her fellow Pink Ladies face the most drastic change of all.
A new location, a new building and an uncertain future await the group at 750 Hospital Loop.
While the Pink Ladies previously were the first point of contact for all guests, TMH officials said they have hired new workers for the position of front desk concierge.
The concierge will be responsible for greeting visitors and helping them with their needs. Pink Lady volunteers still will run the gift shop, Pink Lady president Anna Rippy said.
Many of the volunteers are unsure of what their role will be alongside the concierges.
All they know is it won’t be the same.
“We’ll still welcome people to the hospital just like we always did,” Murphy said.
On Friday, Murphy worked her last shift in the old hospital at 745 Russell St.
The shelves of the gift shop she had watched for a decade were now empty of the flowers, toys and cards they once displayed to hospital visitors.
For the last time, Murphy sat behind her desk and acted as receptionist, greeter and friend to anyone who came through the doors.
“I just enjoy working with the public,” she said. “I really enjoyed working here, and when you’re retired, it’s nice to do something worthwhile.”
When the new hospital opens Thursday, with it comes a new gift shop and a revised set of responsibilities for the hospital volunteers.
“I think it’s going to be a lot different,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be more professional. But we don’t really know what our job will be. There are still a lot of things to iron out anytime you have a move like this.”
Rippy said she had heard about possibilities of the new Pink Lady jobs, however most of the reorganization still is up in the air.
“We might have someone at the front providing support for the concierge,” Rippy said. “Right now, we’re lone rangers up there.”
She said the new hospital will need a concierge because someone will need to man the desk from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and many of the Pink Ladies are unable to work late.
But she said she knows the Pink Ladies still will be needed.
“I would think so,” she said. “Last year at our Christmas party they told us we saved $75,000 in salaries. But it will take us a while to get things sorted out in the new hospital.”
No matter who is the first point of contact in the new hospital, the Pink Ladies understand the importance of the first person who smiles at a hospital visitor.
“It really makes a difference on the impression people get when they first come in if you’re friendly,” Murphy said.
Whatever her duty may be, Murphy will continue to offer a friendly smile and a helping hand to whoever crosses her path.
And soon, she’ll get to do what she loves and help the community in a new, state-of-the-art facility with a larger gift shop.
“We just volunteer and whatever we’re asked to do, we’ll do that.” she said. “Whatever jobs we have to do, I’ll be happy just to be working in the new hospital.”