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Retiree Spotlight: Donna Mullen

By Kimberly Rock-Shelton, Hispanic Case Manager

When I began working at NKY Health 10 years ago, Donna Mullen was a bit of a legend. At that time, she was working at the Kenton County Health Center, but for the majority of her career, Donna has worked at the Campbell County Health Center. I was told that Donna had seen a lot in her time in public health.

Thus, as she prepares to retire at the end of this month, it seemed only fitting that I got to ask Donna to reflect on her 29-year career.

One of Donna’s most memorable experiences was during her tenure as a nurse at the Campbell County Health Center, when it was located on Fifth Street in Newport.

A client came in for a 3:30 p.m. appointment. Another nurse did the intake and sent the client to the bathroom in the lobby to produce a urine specimen. The client never reappeared with a specimen, and the staff assumed that the client had left without completing the appointment.

The clinic closed at 4:30 p.m. as scheduled, and Donna went home—only to be summoned back to the health center by Newport police 30 minutes later. When she arrived, Donna was greeted by a police officer and the client, who had an empty urine specimen cup in hand.

It turned out that the client had still been in the bathroom when staff closed and locked the building. When the client emerged from the bathroom and then exited the building, it triggered a burglar alarm, which summoned the police, who contacted Donna—the designated emergency contact.

“What can you do or say but laugh in those circumstances?” Donna said reflecting back on the experience. (Our guess is Donna’s staff thoroughly check restrooms before closing now!)

Donna has experienced many changes at the Health Department over the last 29 years. For example, when she started back in the 1980’s, employees were allowed to smoke at their desks. Computerization was another adjustment—Donna said she got her first desktop April 2004. Unfortunately, the move to electronic medical records will not occur during her tenure, but that’s another story for another day!

After a career in public health worthy of a champion, Donna said she and her family plan to celebrate her retirement with a trip to Walt Disney World. Upon their return, Donna will continue to spend time with her eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 12 years old to three years old, and will continue to teach nursing part-time at Northern Kentucky University.

Thanks, Donna, for your years of service, and best wishes for your retirement!