September 29, 2016
Whatever you do, don’t wear wrinkle-riddled clothes in front of Linda Tew.
Linda, known as “TewTew” around Memorial Healthcare, has worked in the laundry department for nearly 18 years. Every morning before starting her 6 a.m. shift, she presses her uniform.
“Appearance makes a difference, and when you have loved ones in an atmosphere like [a hospital’s], you just don’t want to look like no one cares,” she says. “I like to look presentable. That’s important to job performance. One of my worst beefs is wrinkles.”
She jokes that she’ll even say something if she’s somewhere like a restaurant and sees someone with wrinkles in their clothes.
Working in laundry is serious business for Linda. She says the nine-person department handles over a million pounds of linen a year. And as other hospitals cut their laundry department and outsource instead, Memorial Healthcare keeps it intact, ensuring everything is handled properly. When laundry is outsourced, it could come back ripped or stained.
“We are particular,” she says. “We don’t set out anything that we wouldn’t have in our homes. We take pride in our linen.”
Linda is a lifelong Owosso native, who was born at Memorial Healthcare. Before arriving to the hospital, she worked at a grocery store. Then, something dire occurred, causing her to seek a better paying job.
“Because of my husband’s illness, I knew some day I would have to support myself,” she says.
Linda’s husband was a veteran, who suffered illness from Agent Orange exposure. He was forced to retire early, as he grew more disabled from his war-related illnesses.
He passed away six years ago.
“You worry about your job when you have to support somebody that’s ill,” she says. “Nobody knows how much time off you need with an illness. I’m fortunate that the last six months of his life, the hospital stood behind me.”
She found bountiful support during that time. And the day her husband’s service came, something happened for which she’s forever grateful.
“My supervisor and director allowed coworkers to come to my husband’s service,” she emotionally says. “I don’t remember any organization allowing a full department to support a coworker in a time of need. When you see every one of your coworkers support you in that time, no words can describe it. That will always mean a lot to me.”
It’s evident it means a lot to Linda not only through her words, but her actions. Within the hospital she returns the support she received then through hard work and helping others. She’s fond of sitting with patients and listening to their stories. If she sees a visitor who appears lost, she’ll take them to where they need to go.
“I try to help out anybody I can,” she says. “[People] need comfort. I try to do the best job I can do while working.”
Even when she’s sleeping, she jokes that she’s dreaming about a floor needing their linen.
“Most people don’t like to do laundry,” she says. “Never thought I’d be here this long.”
Linda pauses, chuckles, and with a big smile, she says, “they haven’t got rid of me!”
She admires how Memorial Healthcare is a family-oriented hospital. And for her, it really is. She was born here and her daughter was born here. She’s had family treated at the hospital. She’s experienced steadfast support from her coworkers, and she provides the same.
“I will miss it when I retire,” she says. “I will miss the people.”