With much food, memories and tears, Georgia Highlands Medical Services Inc., bid farewell this week to a longtime employee.
On Wednesday, a retirement ceremony was held for Chief Financial Officer Linda Howell after 31 years with the company. Howell said she was moved by the number of people who came to the ceremony and the relationships she’s formed.
“It’s very humbling,” Howell said. “I feel like it’s not deserved; I should be thanking everyone for allowing me the privilege of working here at Georgia Highlands. What a wonderful place. In 31 years, it’s never felt like a job.”
Howell said when she started in 1986 the business was the George E. Wilson Memorial Health Services, better known locally as the Wilson Clinic.
“I was hired as an administrative assistant; we had six employees at the time,” Howell said. “We’ve had tremendous growth over the years and changed the name.”
There are now hundreds of employees in the system, which has locations in Canton, Dawsonville and Bartow County.
She said in her first year the center served about 167 patients and, last year, it served around 16,000.
CEO Todd Shifflett said Howell had worn a lot of hats at the company and didn’t think the company would be in its current state without her presence.
“She’s been a rock that’s kind of kept us together and kept the message alive,” he said.
A plaque outside the building and the training room where the ceremony took place were both dedicated to Howell.
“I’m just humbled; I’m absolutely humbled,” Howell said. “It’s such a privilege. We all know it takes a team. One person can’t do it and I just had a wonderful group of people that worked with me, and this entire organization has always been about teamwork and about family.”
In retirement, Howell said she is planning to spend time with family.
“I want to spend time with my grandbabies,” she said. “That’s the main thing because they are growing up so fast and I want to volunteer at their schools. I want to play with them and have a good time with and just spend more time with family.”