Nurse One of State’s ‘Hospital Heroes’December 1, 2010
Nurse One of State’s ‘Hospital Heroes’
Parkway Medical’s Burney earns honor for 33-years of dedication
By Deangelo McDaniel, Decatur Daily
Daily Photo by John Godbey
Becky Burney has been honored with the Hospital Hero Award. Burney works in the radiology department at Parkway Medical Center.
If her teenage circumstances had been different, Becky Burney would likely be in some courtroom fighting for the underprivileged.
Fate dealt her a different hand. And for those she has touched during a 33-year-nursing career, that’s a blessing.
The North Alabama Regional Hospital Council of the Alabama Hospital Association honored Burney’s service recently by naming her one of the state’s “Hospital Heroes.”
The award honors hospital employees for their accomplishments and distinguished years of service.
“Our hospitals are filled with caregivers that make each of their patients and coworkers feel special,” said J. Michael Horsley, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.
Consistent with her personality, Burney humbly said she just does her job.
“Nursing is a great job because you get to help people at a most difficult time,” she said.
“That’s the most enjoyable part.”
What Burney is doing almost didn’t happen.
Born the second of six children in Germany to a military family, her childhood dream was to practice law.
When her father left the Air Force, he moved the family to Morgan County to run Burney’s grandparents’ country store in Danville.
After graduating from Danville High School, Burney enrolled in Calhoun’s nursing program because she couldn’t afford to attend law school.
“It was a economic decision, but I have no regrets,” she said.
She graduated from Calhoun in 1978, got a job at Decatur General Hospital and worked there 21 years.
Part of her time at Decatur General was as infection control nurse. When the hospital started its diagnostic catheter laboratory, she transferred to that program.
Burney worked in this position for seven years, but being on call and the long drives from Lawrence County led to a career change.
“It was nothing to do with Decatur General because I loved working there,” she said.
Before leaving Decatur General, Burney joined the military and served with the 109th Evac Hospital in Operation Desert Storm.
She was activated Nov. 22, 1990, her wedding anniversary date, and was south of Baghdad when the ground war began.
After the short confrontation ended, Burney’s unit was treating prisoners of war Iraq had left on the battlefield.
“Yes, they were the enemy, but our job was to stabilize them and get them ready to transfer to a hospital,” she said.
Burney left the military after the war and, about 12 years ago, brought her skills to Parkway Medical Center. She works in several areas of the hospital, but mostly in radiology.
State Rep. Ed. Henry, R-Hartselle, is a co-worker.
“What makes her so different is that she always goes out of her way for the patients,” Henry said. “We get letters from patients all the time thanking her for taking the extra time.”
Parkway Chief Executive Officer Tim McGill said Burney is a hospital hero because of her leadership qualities and passion for what she does.
Burney doesn’t think she’s extraordinary.
“I just want to help and do all I can,” she said.
There are many stories that she could tell about her career, but the one that sticks out happened about five years ago.
She said the patient was a former Army chaplain who had been diagnosed with a terminal disease.
“He knew there was no hope, but he fought and told us God had things for him to do,” Burney recalled. “I got to know him, as did all the nurses. I’ll never forget him.”
The hardest part of being a nurse is losing a patient.
“You never get used to it, and it’s a helpless feeling,” Burney said. “You just wait and pray for the family. You know it’s God’s will. This job would be a lot harder without my faith.”