On April 16, a Tuesday, I reported to work at Northern Berks Family Medicine, just as I had done for nearly 13 years. I received a phone call from my Supervisor’s Supervisor to report to our main office along with another employee. While it was not unusual for me to be at our business office, this time was different. I was told I was to report and would find out what it was about when I arrived and they gave me about a half hour, just about the exact amount of time needed to get there. It did not take long for me to figure out what was happening. Upon arriving,we were ushered into rooms by job category, in groups, and told we no longer had jobs. Reading Health System was downsizing and we were terminated. In all, it took about an hour and a half for paper work to be handed out and 13 years of a career was gone. We were sent directly home from there. It would serve no purpose for me to complain about my former employer. I will simply say there was no dignity in the way they handled it, for any of the people let go that day.
My biggest regret is that, not only was I unable to say goodbye to my co-workers and physicians,(let’s face it, we spend more time at work than with our own families), but that I was unable to say goodbye to all the wonderful patients from Hamburg and the surrounding areas I met over the years. I was priviledged to have become friends with so many of you. Thank you for all the years of kindness. When you work at a small town Family Practice, especially in a place like Hamburg, you get to know everyone very well. You get to see their family pictures, get to see pictures of beloved pets, they share recipes,...they make them for you, the cookies at Christmas time, candy at Easter. I have driven patients home in the rain (as have co-workers), heard their stories, histories of their families and their marriages andaccomplishments. I have shared hugs, held hands and cried with them when a loved one died. I will especially miss our oldest patient who, along with her devoted son, I developed a real soft spot for.
This is both my goodbye and my thank you. I was lucky enough to have had a job I loved for almost 13 years, I made mistakes over the years, to be sure, but I did my best to treat people with respect. I am now one of those people spending my days surfing job sites, wondering what is next for me. I have an amazing support system of family and friends, faith that God has a plan and I know I will land on my feet. I have been blessed to have known all the amazing patients at NBFM, thank you. I hope when I see you around you still feel free to say, “Hello.”
Coleen Hinkel, former Practice Supervisor and resident of Auburn.