Ms. (Reed) Echols, Mary Elizabeth Mitchell (with star at feet) and the Brownie Scout Troop of 1945-1946© “It was in 1968 and I had comp time and wanted to take off to go to Atlanta to pay my final respects to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Mitchell. “I was told that I could not take off, but I took off anyway and went to the funeral in Atlanta with some of my friends. I told them that they give Italians Columbus Day off and they let the Jews off for Yom Kippur. Why couldn’t I be off for King’s funeral? King is our King I told them. I’m going to Atlanta and I’ll deal with it when I get back.” That was pretty much the end of Mitchell’s journey at and with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, but before she left, and she certainly knew her days were limited, she wanted to make sure she was replaced by another African American woman. She worked closed with a former medical records classmate, Ann and the two of them drafted a job description that only Ann could fill. “I could feel it in the air,” said Mitchell. “I told Ann that I wanted to help her to get the job so we wrote the job description up to match qualifications that only she had. They would frequently come to me saying doctor so-in-so’s wife used to work in radiology in Florida asking me didn’t I think she was qualified for my position. Oh no, I would tell them. Medical Records is a specialized field and the only person she would hire would have to be one that met her requirements. After all she told them, 60% of a hospital’s accreditation, at that time, was dependent on their ability to successfully keep accurate medical records and the remaining 40% was split between nursing and dietary. She then referred them to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (currently Healthcare Organizations) rulings of the time.” Mitchell was happy to report that her friend remained in that position. Mitchell eventualy left St. Jude and took a position at the former Collins Chapel Hospital. “Besides Mitchell says, “If I hadn’t done it the way I did it my grandmother would have come back and slapped me!” All pictures in this store are courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Mitchell’s personal files. 9

10 Publizr Home

You need flash player to view this online publication