Nancy Jackisch, who lives in Portland, recalls her 45 years of work at Jay County Hospital. Jackisch, who works in the laboratory at JCH, started at the old hospital on Arch Street making about 90 cents an hour. (The Commercial Review/Steve Garbacz)
Nancy Jackisch, who lives in Portland, recalls her 45 years of work at Jay County Hospital. Jackisch, who works in the laboratory at JCH, started at the old hospital on Arch Street making about 90 cents an hour. (The Commercial Review/Steve Garbacz)
The job has changed tremendously even if the locale has stayed the same.

Jay County Hospital moved from Arch Street to its current location, personnel has changed over and over and technology has advanced tremendously since Nancy Jackisch started working for the hospital 45 years ago.

"It's probably boring to most people, but it's something I stuck with," said Nancy Jackisch, who works in the lab at JCH, and plans to retire in August.

"I've never worked at a place where I've given a 45-year award," said hospital CEO Joe Johnston. "You just don't see that any more."

At 90 cents an hour, Jackisch started at JCH as a nursing aide when the hospital was a 100-bed facility on Arch Street. When the floor wasn't busy, she would fill in for other departments, including the lab. As a position became available in the lab, she took on some training and transitioned into the role.

"Honest to God, I can't remember," she said, unable to recall when she started as part of the lab. "It's been so many years."

It's been a job that has seen major changes.

"I can remember when you just did everything by hand," Jackisch said, although that experience is only relived rarely. "Now, when all the computers go down, it's like, 'what do we do?' Then you have to go back to doing what we did before."

The job is one that's evolved as technology has advanced. Equipment, which used to take up walls of space, has shrunk. The maintenance has become less and the work more efficient. The testing has become faster and more accurate.

And all those factors have combined to make the workday easier.

"There were a lot of times you'd be in there all night and then still have to be in there all day the next day," she said.

Between running tests and maintaining equipment, Jackisch said it was not uncommon to be at work for hours, maybe only stopping for a quick bite to eat before getting back to work. Lab techs might work 10 days in a row before having a day off.

"I can remember one night when I was working by myself, they had two patients, one patient was a heart patient, and the other was a patient they found out on the road someplace. Then they were going to bring in two helicopters," she recalled of one particularly stressful time where the samples just kept coming.

"That was one case when you thought, oh my God, is it never going to end," she said, but admitted, "We still have days like that."

With retirement looming at the end of summer, Jackisch is looking forward to taking some time to catch up on things that she never had time for during work - though what those things are are yet to be decided.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do, but hopefully I'll enjoy it, I've never had a lot of time off," she said. "I've got a lot of things to do around this house that you don't do when you're working."

The hospital will lose the consistency and stability that she has brought over the past 45 years.

"I think all of that rubs off on all the other employees," Johnston said. "Tradition, dedication, stability, doing everything she can for the hospital and for her profession. That's hard to put into words.

"We're just glad to have the Nancy Jackisches of this world that have been able to dedicate their lives to an institution like JCH; it's phenomenal," he added.

As the long career winds to its end, she may fill the gaps with visits to family in St. Henry or Florida, but all else failing, she can always head back to the workforce.

"If nothing else, I'll get a job being a greeter at Wal-Mart," she said with a laugh.