Iredell Health Honors Long-Serving Employees: A Conversation with Alan Anderson, Plumber Assistant

Last Updated 5/14/2024Posted in News

As Iredell Health System celebrates its 70th Anniversary on May 1, it’s not just a celebration of passing time. It’s a testament to the dedication and loyalty of the people who made, and continue to make, it all possible — its employees.

Iredell Health System has a long-standing history of caring for its community. What sets Iredell Health System apart is its deep connection to the community it serves. Many of its employees are not just healthcare professionals — they are our neighbors, friends, and family members. In fact, Iredell Health System has more than 70 employees who have worked at Iredell Health System for over 30 years.

Alan Anderson, plumber assistant, has worked at Iredell Health System for over 42 years. Born and raised in Statesville, Iredell Memorial Hospital was not just a workplace for him — it was an integral part of his life. Anderson was actually born at The Birth Place at Iredell Memorial Hospital, and about 16 years later, he would return to that same hospital for employment. Anderson’s mother, Ruby, also worked at the hospital as a nurse. In fact, she was one of the original 64 nurses who worked at Iredell when the doors opened in 1954.

Anderson’s tenure at Iredell Health System began in 1982 as a high school student looking for part-time work. His mother, being a nurse at the hospital, had hinted at the possibility of a job opening, so Anderson applied and was soon hired into the maintenance department.

“I started as the maintenance helper and groundskeeper,” Anderson recalled. “I took care of some of the outside work and just did whatever needed to be done. I was part-time for about two years and jumped to full-time after that,” said Anderson.

Anderson has a natural knack for all things mechanical, a trait he inherited from his father. Because of this, he quickly found his niche within the maintenance team.

“I’ve always been a mechanical, hands-on kind of guy, like my dad. I picked up things quickly here at the beginning just by being mechanically minded,” he said.

Over the years, Anderson has stayed within the maintenance department. He was the maintenance helper for about 10 years and is presently the plumber’s assistant. However, Anderson does not solely do plumbing. His team describes him as someone who does everything maintenance-related – from plumbing, to hardware, to repairing physical structures and utilities. Anderson is the longest-serving maintenance team member and knows where everything is and where it’s supposed to go. He’s also known for always lending a helping hand.

“There were times throughout the years that I did some department jumping as well. I would help out in the storeroom when I was needed,” said Anderson.

However, what truly kept Anderson rooted at Iredell were the friendships he formed.

“When I first started, Graham Wallace was the maintenance supervisor. When he left, he had been here for over 40 years. A lot of the older guys were long-termers. When you have a good group of guys, you’re more than coworkers, you’re true friends. That is a big part of why I stayed at Iredell – the friendships,” said Anderson.

In his four decades at Iredell, Anderson watched as the health system expanded to meet the needs of the growing community. He witnessed the transformation of a single building into a sprawling health system, a testament to the hospital’s unwavering commitment to its patients.

“The town kept growing, so I always knew the hospital would grow. But, I never expected it to be as big and as far-reaching as it is now. Especially with the physician network and offices in other towns,” said Anderson.

Anderson was working at Iredell Health System during the 1986 expansion. This extensive addition added 136,800 square feet, 33 new beds, and 217 replacement beds to Iredell Memorial Hospital.

“The ’86 expansion was a major undertaking. That whole side of the property originally was just a grass field and some fruit trees. They had to dig out a huge hole, down multiple stories, and that was really something interesting. They actually had to have a mining company come and shore up the walls so the current building wasn’t negatively impacted during the construction,” said Anderson.

When asked about his memories at Iredell Memorial Hospital, Anderson notes a few that stick out, specifically in the years when Statesville got a lot of snow and ice.

“Back in the day, we used to get a lot of snow and had tough winters. We were not only the maintenance crew, but we were also the snow crew. There were a couple of winters that were absolutely brutal. We would pick people up and take them to work. I had a little tractor with a blade on it and would clear the sidewalks, throw salt down, and keep the entrances open. We’re a hospital, we can’t just shut down because of snow,” said Anderson.

Through the years, despite the changes and advancements, Iredell Health System has remained a beacon of stability in Anderson’s life.

“Iredell Memorial Hospital has always been here. There were times when a lot of my friends were struggling to keep jobs, and the industry started crashing, but Iredell was always solid and stable. It wasn’t going anywhere. It was always here – that was the steady part of it,” said Anderson.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the hospital, Anderson expresses that the health system has never lost sight of their primary focus – the patients.

“Iredell has always been patient-focused. My mom always taught me to look out for the patients because you never know, you might be one someday. The patient-centered approach has always been at the heart of Iredell Health System,” he said.

When reflecting on his 42 years at Iredell Health System, Anderson is most thankful for the people.

“It’s the people who surely make the difference,” said Anderson.

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