One thing Callaway Community Hospital staff can't help noticing about Jennifer Salmons is her smile.
"She always has her smile. Some people lose their smile when they get stressed. She keeps her smile," said Jean Coash, RN in employee health and nursing education at the hospital.
Coash has worked at CCH for 22 years and has been Salmons' "office partner" since June 2010 when Salmons was promoted to case manager. The employees of CCH recently voted Salmons to be employee of the year, a recognition that Salmons said was "very exciting."
"It's actually an honor to find out that you've been chosen by your co-workers," Salmons said.
The native Callawegian has worked at CCH since 2004, when she started at Fulton Medical Clinic working for Dr. Catherine McCray as an LPN. She transferred to CCH's obstetrics department in 2008 and assumed her new role last June.
As case manager, Salmons meets about every patient that walks through the door, verifying insurance, helping them meet medical criteria, working on discharge planning and, in some cases, coordinating nursing home placement. Salmons said she enjoys the interaction with the patients and doctors that her position entails.
"It provides a good feeling of satisfaction to know that you've helped," Salmons said.
Coash, who admitted that she voted for Salmons to win employee of the year, said her co-worker "really, genuinely cares" about the patients.
"She just has a great personality ... to best work with all departments and medical staff in bringing about the best care for the patient," said Mark Caton, chief executive officer.
Hospital employees vote every month to select one of their own as employee of the month. It is these 12 employees at the end of the year who are in the mix to be chosen for employee of the year. Salmons was January 2010 employee of the month and received an award in January 2011 for winning employee of the year. She also received a cash bonus and a special parking spot.
"A hospital's a very complicated, complex organization and it requires a lot of teamwork ... It's the employees who feel like that employee that they choose shows the best attitude, work ethic and performance that best demonstrates what this hospital represents," Caton said.
Salmons grew up near Hams Prairie and graduated from South Callaway High School in 2002. She received her LPN degree from Columbia College in 2004 and her RN degree in January from Excelsior College. She received news on Monday that she passed her board exams, officially making her a registered nurse. Her husband of almost five years, Shad Salmons, is also from Callaway County. Salmons said she has no plans to leave her current position as case manager saying, "I'm definitely happy where I'm at."
Caton said Salmon excels in her job and seems to always be smiling.
"She brightens up everyone's day," he said.