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Community connection: Emory Eastside spokeswoman talks about family, her love of Christmas

Sheila Adcock is not only the director of marketing and public relations and spokeswoman for Emory Eastside Hospital, she's a woman who knows style. You'll know it just by looking at her perfectly styled hair and bright green suit with matching jewelry.

Though the former hairdresser and boutique owner has tried her hand at a number of professions, she says she found her calling in health care. She's been with Emory Eastside for 30 years.

In this edition of "Community Connection," Adcock sits down with staff writer Melissa Wilson to gab about growing up in Kentucky, her large family and her love for Mexican food.

MW: You have a variety of jobs at the hospital, right?

SA: I do wear a number of other hats and I bring kind of a unique perspective to the table because I don't have a traditional marketing degree. My degree is in education and I'm a respiratory therapist by background. So ... I've been working in health care since 1972.

And as a respiratory therapist for example, if somebody asked me for a quote on some aspect of health care just from working in health care whether it's a nursing role or therapy role or whatever, you know you do understand health care. And so sometimes I can just give a quote off the top of my head.

Now, if you start getting into something specific something like nuclear medicine or an area that really is outside my area of expertise, I always go to those people for the latest information.

MW: How did you move from education to working for a hospital?

SA: When you have a degree in health occupations education you actually act as a preceptor for ... for example if you were a nurse it would be nursing students. My students were respiratory students.

I never did work at the university, but we accepted students on their rotations through the hospital, various hospitals where I've worked.

So you really kind of help them with their clinical rotations, and coming from an education background it's more than like just teaching them their job, you're trying to incorporate what they're learning from theory and actually helping them put that into practical application at the bedside.

MW: Tell me about yourself. Are you married, do you have children?

SA: I am married to my husband, Walter. We don't have children.

I was born and raised in Louisville, Ky., and we moved here in 1989 for my husband's job ... and I had actually worked for HCA at the corporate office in insurance.

You know in 30 years that's one the neat thing about this company, you can do a lot of different things. And I had actually moved out of respiratory therapy to a consultant for the company in respiratory therapy, and then I moved over into the insurance division and handled contract administration, which doesn't mean a lot to you.

But when we were going to move to Georgia I was like, "Well, OK, I'm moving to Atlanta. Where is Snellville, where is Cartersville?" because that's where our hospitals were.

MW: You must love your job because you've stayed here for so long.

SA: I do, oh I do, I do. I've liked every job I've done ... and some more than others, you know, but it's just part of that opportunity to grow.

You know, one thing you learn in education is you learn about lifelong learning. And I think people that are unhappy get in jobs, they're not learning anything new and they grow stagnant and they don't like to go to work.

It's so exciting. I cannot imagine retiring. And maybe that's something that's going to be a hurdle for me in some years.

MW: What made you decide to go into health care?

SA: Well from the time I was a child, I couldn't decide if I wanted to be a teacher or if I wanted to be a nurse, you know how kids are.

When I graduated from high school my parents were like, "We will help you with your education, but you must promise us until you finish your education, you won't get married." They were afraid, you how kids will do.

They get married and they start having babies and you won't finish. I'm really a bonehead. I had been accepted into a nursing program in Louisville, Ky. And I kept thinking about it and I thought, you know, I might just want to get married. You know three years is a long time, that's so long. You know how your perspective is different as a kid.

I said I'm not going to do it, so I sent my letter of withdrawal and decided not to do that. And I had always been kind of artsy-fartsy, and so I said I'm going to go to cosmetology school and it's 2,000 hours and I mean 2,000 hours. You can get that like (snaps her fingers) that. So I did.

I went to cosmetology school and was a hairdresser for about four years. But all of my high school education had been like, college prep. And so ... it wasn't challenging enough for me, because a lot of the things you learn in theory, for example if you go to a hair show and learn about all these new colors and really cutting edge ways to cut hair and do all these great things ... your regular clientele will never let you do it.

MW: Do you do your own hair?

(Shakes her head yes.)

MW: It looks great. I was admiring it.

SA: I do the color, but I don't cut my own hair. I don't know how anybody cuts their own hair. That would just be crazy.

MW: You mentioned you grew up in Kentucky. What was it like growing up there ... what was your family like?

SA: Well my husband and I, on both sides of our family all of our family still lives in the Ohio Valley, they all still live there.

So we're the first people to move away. So, for a long time moving here, you know it was like run back home, because I'm extremely close to my sisters. ... I have three sisters and two brothers. And every holiday we were really just running back there and catching up with them and find out what they were doing.

My parents are both in a nursing home, growing up with them has been ... "We want all you kids to be close," every holiday was all about family and all about kids.

And with this big group of people, it was always about having a cookout or going to the park and cooking breakfast, you know, in one of those grates at the park where the picnic tables and that are.

We're always doing that type of thing, and so it's really kind of made us close as a group of siblings.

MW: I bet holidays are fun with all those people.

SA: They can be. They really have kind of forced us to cut way back on all the gifts, because it can be a total madhouse.

You're like waist-deep in paper, people don't know where their gifts are ... "Who's this from, who's this from." They've lost their tags. I mean it's just completely crazy.

So, we've really tried to make it more about the time we spend together. It's going to bit more of a challenge this year with both my parents in a nursing home.

Their place was where we always met and they didn't really have a large house, but they had a basement that basically had a tile floor. It really wasn't finished, but we use to eat off a Ping-Pong table. You know how big a Ping-Pong table is.

MW: Oh yeah, sure.

SA: We put sheets over it. Plastic and then sheets over it, and we all sat around the Ping-Pong table to eat ... and it was packed. I mean sometimes you'd have to put the little kids at their own separate little table or highchair or whatever.

It was always just so many people. With them in a nursing home we can't duplicate that, so we do now a lot of times find a restaurant or some place we can do ... but it's just not quite the same, you know.

MW: Where did you go to school?

SA: I went to University of Louisville and I went to University of Kentucky. My respiratory degree is from University of Kentucky and my education degree is from the University of Louisville.

Louisville's my home and that's really my favorite school. So when U of L plays UK, I'm like 'Go big red.'

MW: Are you a big sports fan?

SA: Not at all, not at all. And luckily my husband isn't either, so ... he wants to watch IU play basketball. We're both really basketball freaks rather than football.

I watch U of L and he watches IU and so that's pretty much it ... we're really not into sports.

MW: Are you reading anything good right now?

SA: Actually I have started back on suspense and mysteries, and I'm probably reading something that's pretty old, but it's "Step on a Crack" by James Patterson. I'm going through reading all of Patterson's books. I find an author I like and I read everything by them.

MW: I hear you like to shop.

SA: Oh, I love it. Anything Christmas I love, I love Christmas decorations. We go all out for Christmas. We try to have a tree in every room.

I just love bargains, you know neat things for the house ... upscale things ordinarily I wouldn't buy if I went to the department store. So, I just go out there and see what there is to see, and generally I buy Christmas gifts all year. ... You're always thinking, "Oh, I know who would like this."