Sioux Center Community Hospital building

Article written by Kirbee Nykamp and appeared in the Sioux Center News on March 18, 2009

Temp employee retires after 17 years

Retiring office manager of CHEARS home health and hospice care, Becky Woodward came to her job somewhat by chance. As a part-time teacher of secretarial courses, Woodward was asked to fill in for a hospital secretary on maternity leave. Woodward stuck around for the next 17 years.

In 1991, Woodward had already taught secretarial and administrative classes for almost 30 years. The Hull-native had worked at both Dordt College and Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, which she says fit well into her life at that time with her three kids.

"It was convenient to teach and have the summers off with the kids," she said.

But when the opportunity came to apply her secretarial know-how in a full-time position, she was happy to accept the job.

"I was ready to apply my skills hands-on in the office. I really felt at home here, that this would be a great place to work. And it was good work. It was a very rewarding group to be with and to help," Woodward explained.

Woodward decided to stop teaching in 1995, and continued full-time to manage aides, nurses and clients. Meanwhile, she says she witnessed the transformation of her profession and medical record keeping.

"Like most professions, it seems a lot of things have changed. Nurses used to dictate notes to me, and I would transcribe them. Bills were individually typed on a typewriter and sent," Woodward remembers. "Now, our records are driven by the computer."

The 66-year-old served her final day at the hospital last Friday, and she's diving into retirement head first. Woodward is traveling to Georgia, where she will stay the next nine weeks watching her new grandson, while her daughter-in-law finishes her teaching contract. That leaves Woodward's husband, Duane, on his own for until the end of the school year.

"He'll be a bachelor for nine weeks, but the decision was mutual," Woodward explained.

Duane is retired as general manager of the Hull Elevator and currently works for Demco in Boyden.

When Woodward returns, the two are planning to stay as active as they have previously. Regular RAGBRAI participants and golfers, they hope to continue their cycling together.

Having worked with hospice care for nearly two decades, Woodward says that, as she steps down from her role, she hopes people will continue to see the value and need for that kind of health care in the community.

"I'd like to express my appreciation to the community. We've had strong support from the community, and I truly feel it is such a worthwhile program," she said. "Home health and hospice care is really a vital part of health care. I've seen a lot of changes, but that is still true."