In the emergency department at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, Sidney McCall is known for the calm he brings to tense situations.
He’s the patient-care assistant who administers EKGs to patients arriving with heart-attack symptoms. Among other things, he has a way of putting at ease patients who might be struggling with mental-health problems.
“I like figuring out how to help people during chaotic moments,” said McCall, who has worked in the emergency department for the past 18 months. “It’s my nature to be calm and slow to anger.”
Recently, Johnston Health named McCall its ambassador of the month for January. During a presentation, Chief Executive Chuck Elliott said McCall starts every day with a bright and enthusiastic attitude. “He never hesitates to step forward to offer assistance,” he said.
Elliott also read complimentary notes from Brice Helms, a security officer, and Ed Stone, a nurse who’s now retired from the hospital’s behavioral-health department. Both wrote of instances in which McCall either slowed or stopped physical altercations with patients.
For his part, McCall says he draws on his life and previous work experience. Before coming to Johnston Health, he was the 24/7 manager of a group home for at-risk youth. “It was a super-stressful job,” he said. “One of the toughest challenges is a disrespectful kid who says anything he wants.”
McCall said the job helped him to see things differently. “I try to look at the root,” he said. “If you show children love and discipline, it works over time. But initially, they need you to understand what they’re going through.”
McCall said he learned structure, mental toughness and teamwork from playing sports. At Goldsboro High, he was a running back with aspirations of playing football at a major university.
“I’ve been hit, slammed, pinched and talked junk to,” he said. “But in team sports, you shake hands, win or lose, at the end of the game. You learn a center. You also learn how to win and how to do things the right way without getting angry.”
McCall has his sights set on working as a paramedic. Before coming to Johnston Health, he took courses at Wayne Community College and earned his certification. He has accepted a full-time job with Johnston County EMS and plans to continue to work, as needed, in the Smithfield emergency department.
McCall has a cool vibe outside work too. In his spare time, he likes singing the Frank Sinatra genre of music and performs with the Starlight Dance Band in Goldsboro. “I’m an old soul,” he said.
McCall was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and grew up in Goldsboro. His father was in the Army and near the end of his military career when Sidney came along. He has six brothers and sisters, four of whom are older.
McCall met his wife, Maria, at their church, St. James Church of Christ, which is another important part of his life. The couple lives in Goldsboro and has three children, ages 11, 22 and 26.