After spending 54 years with the same Alabama skilled nursing facility, clinical services director Jewell Garrett is getting ready to close the page on the latest chapter in her life. 

Jewell Garrett

“It’s going to take awhile to accept that I won’t be able to go in anymore,” she admitted to McKnight’s

McGuffey Healthcare & Rehab First, a 209-bed facility in Gadsden, AL, will celebrate its longest-serving employee Friday, Jan. 10, when she officially retires. 

Garrett’s career in long-term healthcare started in June 1965 after being encouraged by a family member. She also grew up being raised by her grandmother, which influenced her to “love and want to provide care to the geriatric population.” 

She started as a certified nursing assistant before becoming a licensed practical nurse in October of 1966. She has since served as a charge nurse, nursing supervisor and clinical nurse manager. She will retire as the facility’s clinical services director. 

Garrett’s leadership will be hard to replace, Administrator April Conley said. 

“She’s a great leader and good mentor for the staff that comes on board with us. The love and the affection that she shows our residents [is amazing]. She’s a hardworking, dedicated professional employee and her absence will definitely be felt,” Conley said. 

Garrett said she’s enjoyed working with fellow staff members and bonding with residents over the years, and her time with them is what she’ll miss the most in retirement. She plans to use her free time relaxing and spending more time with her family, including her mother.

“I really enjoyed the patients,” Garrett said. “They appreciate you and know that there’s someone there that loves and cares for them.”

“She always talks about how the residents and the employees are her family,” Conley noted. 

The reception for Garrett is open to “anybody who’s life has been touched by Mrs. Garrett,” Conley said, adding, “There will be a LOT of people there.”