For 41 years, Julie Madden has exemplified our promise at Akron Children’s Hospital to treat every child as we would our own. During her tenure as a radiology support specialist, she estimates that she has registered more than 200,000 patients – and yet, she treats each interaction as an opportunity to make a difference for a child. It’s that sense of spirit above self that forms the basis of our culture at Akron Children’s, and it’s the reason why the Employee Foundation Council (EFC) chose to honor Julie with the Distinguished Service Award for 2019.
Julie began her career at Akron Children’s in 1979, with an interview for a part-time job in the medical library.
“At the time my job was babysitting, so when I came in for the interview, I was wearing bib overalls and carrying a baby on my hip,” she joked. “The person who interviewed me didn’t seem to mind, which made me feel like this was a place I wanted to work.”
The following year Julie accepted a full-time position in radiology as a file clerk. She still works in radiology, but marvels at how much things have changed.
“When I first started we had 3 radiologists and developed X-ray films in a dark room that were read on view boxes,” she said. “STAT X-rays were referred to as wet reads, reports were typed on typewriters and our scheduling book was handmade. Now we have 11 radiologists, multiple sites, multiple imaging capabilities (MRI, CT, fluoroscopy and ultrasound) and everything is digitized.”
Terry Doherty, Julie’s supervisor, was on the receiving end of Julie’s kindness almost immediately after starting at Children’s in 2017.
“I was rear ended on Exchange Street on a cold, dark, snowy night,” Terry said. “Julie saw me and stayed with me until the police arrived. At that moment, I knew she was a special person, and I was glad to be on her team.”
Over the years, Julie has volunteered for hospital outings, the annual Kids are #1 Fun Run, blood drives and other EFC events. One of the things she appreciates most about her job is the positive work/life balance.
“It’s important to have hobbies and a life outside of work,” she said. “I like to chaperone field trips for my sister’s kindergarten class, create table favors for hospice patients and host an annual summer reunion and fall festival for my family.”
Dr. Michael Rubin, chair of the radiology department, says Julie is the department’s ‘rock of stability.’
“When I’ve asked her about a challenging scheduling issue, she’s always able to make accommodations,” he said. “And, she follows up to make sure everything is completed. For many years prior to electronic scheduling, Julie would stay an extra few hours to finish up and prepare for the next day.”
Julie’s work ethic is no surprise to anyone who works closely with her.
“Every day, Julie works to move patients up in the schedule so they can have fewer days with pain and a shorter time to fast in hopes of getting quicker results and treatments started sooner,” said Terry. “One oncology nurse praised Julie for her willingness to reschedule a patient, so he didn’t miss out on a special family celebration.”
Julie says she’s thankful to Akron Children’s for fostering a feeling of community and family and for being the place she met her husband, Jim, in 1983. Jim (retired director of engineering and facility repair), also won the Distinguished Service Award in 1997. In fact, the Maddens are the only married couple in the 41-year history of the ceremony to be honored.
“Early on in my job I had to file films in a file room located down the hall from the engineering offices,” she said. “I walked past the offices often and Jim was always friendly and would speak to me. We spent our first-year dates at many hospital functions because it was a good way to get to know each other better.”
It turns out Jim and Julie weren’t the only ones in their family to meet their spouse at Akron Children’s. Love was also in the air for Jim’s daughter, Stefani Fee, data management specialist in the NICU, who met her husband Wade, respiratory therapist, at the hospital. They were married in 2000 and have 4 children.
Julie, who in her spare time, enjoys reading, finding new recipes for Jim to cook, scrapbooking, watching old movies and tracking down long-lost relatives on ancestry sites, says receiving the Distinguished Service Award is humbling.
“The things people have said about me are very touching and I am grateful,” she said. “I take pride in what I do, and I want to do it right and do it well. The families I talk to have stories to tell, and although showing them a simple act of kindness may not seem like a big deal, it is often a big deal to them.”