Helping patients for four decades

Posted June 27, 2019 at 5:00 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

Kids call her “the sticker lady” while older patients call her Mary Lou and younger adults call her “Mary,” but after June 27, they will have to call her at home.

Mary Lou James is retiring from her 39-year career as a Patient Services Representative at the Akron Mercy Family Medicine Clinic.

“I can’t believe I worked that many years,” said James, who recently passed the 39-year milestone.. “It wasn’t something I said (grumbling) ‘Oh, I have to go to work today.’ We worked together and always had a good time.”

“It’s going to be hard to quit, too,” she said. “I’ve known these (patients) from the time they were little kids, they’ve grown up and had children who have grown up but it’s just time to retire.”

James is looking forward to her phone ringing — somebody calling to say “Hey, let’s go do this.” She won’t have to worry about finding someone to work for her so she can go.

“I can just go,” said James, who enjoys spending time with her family, especially attending her grandchildren’s activities and being in the Morningside College stands watching her grandson, Taylor James, coach.

She also plans to continue watching Akron-Westfield sporting events, especially when her grandson, Carson James, is performing. She loves to attend the athletes’ state championship games.

“I want to be in the stands just like ‘Grandma Borchers,’” said James.

She told The Akron Hometowner she won’t have to limit her time visiting her son, Jimmy and his family of Wapello. She’ll be able to just do what she wants.

“I have no plans for retirement,” said James, adding with the exception of doing some home projects. “I’m just going to take it one day at a time.”

She will continue volunteering in the community, including her work with the Akron Area Chamber of Commerce and All-Class Reunions.

The Akron High School Class of 1965 alum began working at the clinic for Dr. Joseph Trotzig and Dr. Joseph Torbert in 1978.

Dr. Trotzig dressed professionally while Dr. Torbert was often seen wearing his black leather jacket riding his motorcycle or walking around town in shorts and sandals — even when he met you in the Emergency Room, said James.

“Back then I did about everything — checking patients in and out, pulling their folders and refiling them later, to balancing the money and making the bank deposits at night,” said James. “Answering the phone — that was busy all the time.”

Now much of the work is done on computer — just a few mouse clicks and doctors can see the patients’ files and the computer does most of the financial aspects, too.

“It’s a big change from all those years when I started out,” said James. “Back then we were busy from 8 to 5 — just running.”

“It kept changing all the time (as technology advanced),” said James. “You just learned different things all the time.”

When Dr. Torbert died, James left the clinic, taking a teller supervisor position at First National Bank (now Security National Bank).

When Drs. David and Cindie Wolff took over the clinic, they called James, asking her to rejoin their staff.

James noted she called Physician’s Assistant Bob Watson “Pa” Watson not P.A. Bob, Later, Dr. Allison Schoenfelder joined the staff.

Her funniest memory is of trying to help a man with his pants. The man had a safety pin holding his pants up and it had come undone. He was holding his pants up while she was trying to redo the safety pin. They were all laughing so hard she struggled with the task.

The saddest time was when the staff learned Dr. Torbert had cancer.

“That was a hard time,” said James, who currently works for Dr. Kelly Pomerenke, Physician’s Assistant Paul Niles and Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Milby.

James also enjoyed working with several resident interns, including Dr. Dale Nystrom and Nurse Practitioner Ann Marie Langlois.

“I’ve enjoyed working with everyone in the office,” said James. “I’ll miss both the patients and the staff.”

James has always been appreciative of the community’s support of the medical clinic.

“They always stand behind you.”

James and her husband, the late Forrest James, have two sons: Brent and his wife, Lori, of Westfield; and Jimmy and his wife, Shari of Wapello. They have five grandchildren: Taylor and his wife, Keely James of Kingsley; Carson James, an Akron-Westfield sophomore; Samantha James, who will graduate in December with her Bachelor of Science – Nursing Degree; Natalie James, who is studying to be a Dental Hygienist; and Jackson James, a third grader in Wapello.

There will be an Open House – Retirement Party for James at the clinic , 321 Mill St., Thursday, June 27 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

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