When Fieldcrest shuttered its plant in Smithfield and Shirley Creech lost her job of 15 years, she thought it was the end of the world. Turned out, it was the start of something new.
Through a special program, she had the opportunity to return to school while drawing unemployment. She enrolled in the radiologic technology program at Johnston Community College and earned her associate’s degree.
That was 23 years ago, and Creech has loved her profession, and her workplace, ever since.
Early on, the rad tech specialized in mammography, and she still finds her work at ambulatory imaging in the Johnston Medical Mall most rewarding. “It’s a good feeling knowing that you’re helping someone and using a tool that can catch breast cancer early on,” Creech said.
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In September, hospital Chief Executive Chuck Elliott presented Creech the Johnston Health Ambassador award for going above and beyond the call of duty. Among other things, he recognized her loyalty to the organization and willingness to serve.
Patricia Weaver, director of radiology, remembers when she and Creech worked together in the department. “She’s always had a sweet, calming presence, which makes her an especially valuable asset in her line of work,” Weaver said. “In satisfaction surveys, patients often refer to her by name and say that she helped them feel at ease about a procedure they may have feared or perceived as painful.”
As an Epic superuser, Creech helped co-workers grasp the new electronic record. In recent months, she’s also embraced the changes that have come with advances in stereotactic biopsies and 3-D mammography. In addition to imaging tasks, she ensures that patients get their follow-up reports and appointments. She also does the medical-outcomes audit required by state health-care regulators.
“She’s quick, thorough and highly skilled,” Weaver added. “And she leads by example. She is the face of the department.”
Creech and her husband, Dennis, live near Micro. They have a grown daughter, Jennifer, and a 4-year-old granddaughter, Lily.