It is not common these days to meet an individual who has worked with the same company for 30 years. Cindy Sease, registered nurse, is not your common center leader. She has worked at the Columbia Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Center since the doors first opened in November 1988. “Working for the same center has allowed me the opportunity to master my job. That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. It means that I have had the time to learn, experience and continue to grow in my field, which makes me enjoy and appreciate the work I do.”
Cindy has been a mainstay at the Columbia GI Center, working with a variety of physicians and staff throughout the years. This includes AMSURG’s Medical Director John Popp, Jr. M.D. “When I attended center leader orientation, I was amazed at the number of roles, sometimes duties outside the scope of their work; they play to keep our centers operating efficiently. Our center has been incredibly fortunate to have Cindy at the helm since the day we opened. Cindy has demonstrated a level of professionalism and commitment throughout her years at Columbia and Lake Murray and has been an integral part of the success of the centers,” said Popp. “I congratulate and applaud Cindy on 30 years of dedicated service. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
Cindy began her nursing career in 1981 at a large teaching hospital in Columbia South Carolina, Richland Memorial Hospital. “I began working on a Medical-Surgical floor which was also the cancer treatment and dialysis floor,” explained Cindy. “The patients were very sick. But, the nursing staff was very caring and took me in as a new nurse. After some training, I was on my own. I loved the job.”
Two years later, Cindy transferred to the GI lab. “Back in 1983 screening colonoscopies were not being performed routinely, so we found a lot of cancers; colon cancer and gastric cancers. It felt good to know I was a part of a team that was helping those with cancer,” Cindy said. “With my oncology background, I felt I was able to offer some hope and comfort to those receiving such a diagnosis. Cancer treatment was making great advancements during this time.”
In 1988, Columbia Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Center opened and was one of the first ambulatory surgical centers in South Carolina. “I was proud to assist in the very first procedure. I remember everyone being somewhat nervous, but we broke the ice and here we are 30 years later,” Cindy exclaimed.
When asked about the most memorable changes she has seen over her 30-year career, Cindy replied, “The biggest improvements over the years have been in reprocessing and infection control. When I began in GI, we reprocessed using betadine solution and alcohol. The scopes were fiber optic and the doctor looked through an eye piece. Some of the scopes had a joy stick knob, not the customary turn dial like today. Stretchers were hand-cranked, not hydraulic, and wheelchairs were wooden, but rolled like a dream! I was in my 20s and living a dream.”
Just as the center grew and changed, so did Cindy’s personal life. “There have been many changes over the 30 years. During this time, I married my husband of 35 years, Robby, and we had two boys, Bobby and David,” Cindy said. “We also had many changes in the center. There were three small remodels at Columbia Main as we grew. In 2003, we completed a remodel of the Columbia Center and we opened our second facility, Lake Murray Endoscopy Center. I’ve seen many doctors come and go and staff members too.”
Cindy credits the dedicated staff at Columbia GI as one of the main reasons she has and many others have stayed at the center. “I have several long term employees… Sandra Russell our clinical manager at Lake Murray Endoscopy Center has been with us for 24 years. Marianne Hill, past RN manager at Columbia, has been with us for 20 years. Margaret Danko, RN, has 16 years at Columbia. Debbie Braxton, Cynthia Green and Cheri Foster have been with us for 15+ years,” explained Cindy. “We have always tried to be upbeat and have a good time at work; I think this says a lot about our Center, our team, and its culture.”
Managing two centers, Cindy’s responsibilities have increased over the years. “From assisting with procedures, which I still do when needed, to training, payroll, anesthesia coordination and accounts payable, risk management, human resources and much, much more, can be quite a feat. But the one that has evolved the most, is QAPI [Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement],” Cindy said.
Cindy may not be planning for another 30 years but she expects to remain a part of the center for a few more years before retirement. In the meantime, she is continuing to enjoy her work as well as her hobbies outside of the center—knitting, crocheting and gardening. She loves spending quality time with her family and friends at the lake or beach, and especially the time with her three grandsons, Cooper, Tanner and Waylon.
Congratulations and thank you for 30 years of service, Cindy.