Driving through the gates each morning is one of my favorite things about working at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I think of the campus’ scenic beauty and the construction projects that show signs of continued growth—it’s a chance for me to reflect on a time when the hospital was much smaller, but the mission was as steadfast as it is today.
I joined St. Jude in August 1981 as assistant director in the Medical Records department. The department was located on the second floor of the original hospital next to an exterior balcony where we enjoyed lunch breaks outside.
Before the era of electronic medical records, St. Jude kept patient files in large, 22-ring binders. When Medical Records moved during construction of the hospital’s Patient Care Center (PCC) in the early 1990s, staff members collectively moved the binders to a temporary location on the first floor of the Danny Thomas Research Center.
Medical Records (now Health Information Management Services) then relocated to the PCC first floor. Patient charts were located on the plaza level; staff members used a dumbwaiter lift to transport charts between floors. When the clinic called for a chart, we put it on the dumbwaiter to send it up.
After 18 years in Medical Records, I joined the Professional Services team before moving to my current role as a clinical research associate. Initially, I worked in the Leukemia division before joining the Department of Surgery in 2009.
My work involves navigating regulatory details for surgeons who are initiating studies, including assisting with new study submissions, and modifications and reviews of existing studies. I also perform document review and data collection, as needed, to support clinical research.
Since the early 2000s, I’ve been an employee tour guide. I joined our tour guide program because I wanted to learn more about St. Jude while also meeting new people.
It’s very gratifying to show St. Jude to our visitors. I especially like to talk about St. Jude Founder Danny Thomas. I remember Danny visiting the hospital several times a year—it was always an exciting time for patients, families and employees.
My tour guide experiences have led to a deeper appreciation of my work and the history of St. Jude. During my tours, I always mention that we all contribute to the hospital's mission in our own way. We are all working toward Danny’s Dream.
Liza Emanus is a clinical research associate in the Department of Surgery at St. Jude.