About this article
This article was originally published as the cover story of the M: North Atlanta magazine Jan/Feb 2016 issue, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
Most people don’t know their calling in life until they’re well into adulthood. Some may never figure it out.
That wasn’t the case for Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside Hospital-Forsyth, who was fortunate enough to determine her calling at a young age.
“I’m not sure I always knew I would be a nurse, but I definitely knew I wanted to do something to help others,” said Jackson, a Florida native who grew up in Atlanta.
From the time she was a young girl, Jackson cared for her chronically ill mother.
“I remember riding with her in an ambulance when I was about 8 years old,” she said. “And even though it was scary and she was so sick, I remember the good and almost exciting feeling of being a part of those helping her.”
Jackson began volunteering as a “candy striper” in high school and found working in the hospital just felt right.
“I delivered the real mail to patients, that was long before email,” she said with a laugh.
During those years as a volunteer, Jackson loved helping the nurses as much as the patients. And it was during that time the goal to be a nurse was solidified.
“I always felt completely comfortable in the hospital environment,” she said. “Early on, I felt a sense of community about it.”
Jackson described herself as “laser focused” when it came to her career. After earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from what was then known as the Medical College of Georgia, Jackson took on the world of nursing and all things hospital with full vigor.
Joining the Georgia Baptist Medical Center in 1991 as the assistant director of surgery, Jackson quickly moved up to vice president of nursing at the facility in downtown Atlanta. She then went on to earn her master’s degree in health care policy and administration from Mercer University.
“I was always open to exploring different opportunities,” she said. “My focus was always on how we could improve things and make it better. I have never been one who is satisfied with the status quo.”
Jackson is quick to credit those around her, especially at the beginning of her career, for her continued success.
“I was so blessed to be mentored by so many caring adults,” she said. “They really helped foster my career and taught me so much along the way.”
In October 1999, Jackson was asked to be a part of a huge endeavor and came to Baptist Medical Center in Cumming. She began as assistant administrator and later assumed the duties of the chief nursing officer. The hospital would eventually be acquired by the Northside Hospital system and become known as Northside Hospital-Forsyth.
In 2001, Jackson became the hospital administrator and has presided over what can only be described as the unprecedented growth of the local hospital over the past decade and a half. In fact, it has grown from employing 300 people in 2002 to 2,400 in 2015.
Jackson sees her job as a privilege. “I greatly admire our team here. They are what make this place work so well,” she said.
Jackson went on to say she is proud of the professionalism of the people she works with day in and day out.
“Our community is so lucky to have this hospital,” she said. “There are so many people who work here who have lived in this community their entire lives.”
In fact, Northside is the largest private employer in the community. And many of those workers live in Forsyth County.
Jackson’s work schedule seems grueling at best, yet she still finds time to serve on numerous boards in the community including, among others: the University of North Georgia Foundation; Bald Ridge Lodge; Mentor Me; and Lanier Technology College.
When talking about serving others, Jackson’s passion is clear and resolute.
“I always tell people, ‘Don’t say no.’ Try to always say ‘yes’ when it comes to serving others.”
While Jackson feels she is doing a job she was “made to do,” being the hospital administrator of such a large entity is not a stress-free job.
To relieve that stress, as well as for pure enjoyment, Jackson loves riding her motorcycle alongside David, her husband of more than 31 years. The two are members of several riding groups in the community and often participate in charity rides to raise money for local charities and causes they care about.
“We are so lucky to live so close to some of the best places to ride in the country,” Jackson said. “David and I meet people from all over the world who come to ride in the north Georgia mountains. We can just go for a ride on any weekend.”
When they are not riding on their motorcycles, the couple loves spending time camping and exploring the country in their 32-foot motor home.
“We love the outdoors and find nothing helps you unwind better than being surrounded by nature.”
Jackson and her husband have two grown children — a daughter who lives in Dawsonville and son in Cartersville — and two grandchildren, with a third due this summer.
Her passion about her job comes from her love of the community she serves in.
“We are so lucky to have the strong commitment Northside Hospital made to our community by purchasing BMC and creating Northside Hospital-Forsyth,” she said.
Jackson credits the hospital for allowing and encouraging her to be so active and involved in the community.
“They are so invested in the growth and success of so many local nonprofit agencies, as well as our schools and community-wide initiatives,” she said.