In 1970, Mom Said, ‘Get a Job,’ So She Did: Rosie Woods celebrates 48 years at Munson Medical Center

The year was 1970: Gasoline was 36 cents a gallon, the Dow Jones Average ended the year at 838 and the Beatles released their final album “Let it Be.”

That same year, Rosie Woods went to work at Munson Medical Center (MMC), the flagship of Munson Healthcare, which now includes eight hospitals and employs more than 7,000 people.

All those highlights are now history, but Woods is still rolling along, marking almost 48 years at the hospital.

“I’m trying to shoot for the 50-year mark,” the Interlochen resident said. “If my health holds out, that would be nice.”

Talking about her impressive job tenure makes Woods openly uncomfortable. She doesn’t seek the limelight and she’s quick to downplay the importance of her long work record. But in an era of job jumping, it’s rare to find someone who has worked for a single employer for almost half a century.

After growing up in Flint, Woods moved with her family to Traverse City in 1966 where she graduated from Traverse City Senior High school four years later.

“Mom gave me the summer off,” she said. “Then she came home from her job in housekeeping at Munson, threw a stack of job postings in my lap and said, ‘Get a job.’”

It wasn’t too long before she landed a gig in MMC’s dietary department. But after 18 months or so of food prep, she was looking for a new challenge and took a job as a pharmacy clerk where she handled billing and other duties.

Woods worked her way up to pharmacy technician through the decades and has been a key member of the pharmacy team ever since, in spite of not earning a college degree.

“I watched what went on in the unit and just grew with it,” she said. “The job was easier then because the hospital was so small. Everybody knew everybody. Everybody was reachable, approachable, and that made it easier.”

Technology changed the way things were done in the growing pharmacy, but it didn’t faze Woods. The procedures and regulations changed along with the technology, but Woods learned on the job.

“When the computers were first introduced, they were new to everybody, so we all had to learn together,” she recalled. “You just had to adapt to what was needed.”

When Woods joined the pharmacy team in the early 1970s there were only six workers, including two pharmacists, in the unit.

“Now there are over 100 people on the three shifts,” said Woods, who is on the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, working three days one week and four days the next.

“Rosie has been a staple to our midnight team as she is a wealth of knowledge of what to do when things do not go as planned,” said Erith Welch, pharmacy technician coordinator at MMC. “When technology decides not cooperate, Rosie always knows what to do to get medications to our patients. We are very fortunate to have such a well-seasoned technician to weather any storm on our midnight shift!”

It might seem that the midnight shift is a quiet time for the pharmacy, but the opposite is true, according to Woods.

“You might think it’s slow, but people are out driving and getting into accidents at midnight and they all need meds when they get here,” she said. “It’s not as slow as everybody thinks.”

After a typical work day, Woods goes home to have breakfast, then may run an errand or two and do some gardening before going to sleep. Falling asleep in the daytime is no problem for Woods. In fact, she has trouble sleeping at night on her days off.

When sleep won’t come, she stays productive canning fruit, making homemade jams or knitting hats and scarves for underprivileged children. So far she has 20 pairs of hats and matching scarves to donate this year.

“I’ve done this every year for the past few years after reading about the program in The Ticker,” she said. “I like to help others.”