One-man hospitality committee

Published 1:41 am Saturday, July 16, 2016

Michael Holloway insisted that family members and co-workers pose with him at his retirement party at Andalusia Health Friday afternoon.

Michael Holloway insisted that family members and co-workers pose with him at his retirement party at Andalusia Health Friday afternoon.

Holloway retires from hospital after 3+ decades

When Michael Holloway started working at Southeast Alabama Gas District in high school, his mama hoped he’d make a career there.

But it was a random service call that changed his path.

“One of the things I did was light pilot lights,” he said. “There was a guy living in a trailer over by the old Columbia General Hospital. I went to light the pilot and he had this thing that was like a beeper.”

It was very different from the beepers and instant messages with which people are alerted today, but the message said, “We need you in the ER.”

Holloway asked him about the contraption, the message, and his job. When he learned the man was an X-ray tech, he thought that sounded interesting.

Then SEAGD head R.J. Smith connecting Holloway with Dr. Charles Tomberlin, a radiologist, and Tomberlin proceeded to help Holloway get an interview in a program at Charity Hospital.

When he arrived with his mother for the interview, the interviewers took him back to observe the process on a man with a gunshot wound to the chest. Holloway fainted.

“I remember hearing them say as I was coming to, ‘He’ll never make it.’ ”

He proved them wrong. When he got an opportunity to enter the program, he accepted and succeeded.

He spent the first three years of his career at Columbia General, then moved to what is now Andalusia Health and went on to lead the imaging department, where he has worked for 35 years.

But he also is the hospital’s resident practical joker, unofficial greeter, and all-round good guy.

“Mike is just a lot of fun,” Amy Herrington, director of emergency services, said. “He cares so much about patients and family members. He always takes people where they need to go in the hospital, and he is all about feeding people.”

What many of his bosses might not know about him, co-worker Patty Ashworth said, is that every time a CEO left the hospital, Holloway would “steal” his chair before his replacement would arrive.

Co-worker Donna Grissett said for the first two years she worked at the hospital, Holloway hid one of her shoes almost every day.

“I have to change into surgical attire after I get here,” she said. “So he’d go in my office and hide one of my shoes.”

She found them all over the hospital, she said, before it dawned on her that her office had a lock.

“Mike’s joyful spirit and love for the hospital is not just seen, you get to experience that when he starts talking about our hospital and especially about his department,” Ashworth said. “Mike treats everyone he encounters like we are all special. He leads by example; he doesn’t just sit in an office. It’s not unusual to see him pushing a patient to the dining room after a procedure and making sure their spouse or caregiver is taken care of, as well.”

Earlier this spring, he was honored with Andalusia Health’s Mercy Award, and will be honored in Nashville in August.