By Erin Beck
Cathy Waggy, who celebrated 40 years with a Shinnston healthcare provider on Nov. 15, considers working in health care her “calling.”
Waggy, the office manager of WVU Medicine United Hospital Center’s Shinnston Healthcare has also been named the Citizen of the Month.
“I love working in medicine,” she said.
At a young age she helped her grandfather, who had diabetes. He had gangrene, which eventually spread to both legs and one arm, all of which were surgically removed, until he had one arm, with just three fingers.
“So I would go there, and I would take care of him with my grandma,” she said. “I helped feed him, get his medicine… They were older and I just enjoy that type of work.”
She pushed his wheelchair at the park and treated him to picnics. They went shopping.
“We would take him everywhere,” she said. “His mind was good, and he enjoyed going out, and I didn’t have a problem pushing him around in a wheelchair and helping him do whatever he needed done. After experiencing that, I just felt that I had a calling to try to take care of people.”
She started at the office on Nov. 15, 1982 as a medical administrative assistant. After graduating from Lincoln High School in three years — “I went to summer school for fun,” she said — she had graduated from West Virginia Business College with a major in medical office administration.
After a brief stint at GoMart, she applied for the medical administrative assistant position.
The job included multi-tasking — clinical work, like testing blood pressure and taking blood, as well as office work, like billing. Back then, she had to handwrite insurance claims. In the late 1980s, the office got its first computer.
Once Dr. Mehmet Kalaycioglu, who is deceased, promoted her to office manager, she also became responsible for tasks like scheduling, payroll and accounting.
“He told me he wanted me to learn all the positions in the facility so that I could run the office,” she said.
Kalaycioglu’s former office is the current city building. He served as the Shinnston doctor from 1963 until his retirement in 2000, she said. The practice includes Kalaycioglu, Waggy, and a nurse, at first, she said.
The surgeon and family practice physician’s office also later became part of UHC, now part of WVU Medicine, and the office moved to its current location at 686 Pike St.
She’s also a multi-tasker now, but with more responsibility. She might be answering the phone, or checking patients in, or drawing blood for labs at any given time. She also assists with the triage line.
She now works with Dr. Kristian Morrison and Dr. Lance Dubberke.
Waggy said she was drawn to health care because she felt it was a worthy cause and she wanted to help people. She noted that not everyone has family members who can help.
She also likes working at the Shinnston clinic, in particular. Although she deals with a lot of paperwork, meetings, and budgets, she also becomes familiar with regular patients. Some have come for 20 years. She makes it a point to try to make sure they feel comfortable.
“I like working with the patients the best,” she said. “They come and they know you by name. So they’ll ask for you because they know you and know that you’ll get them taken care of.”
She’d forgotten about her 40th anniversary at the practice until she was greeted with a sign. Employees celebrated with cake and a card. They reminisced about “the good ol’ days,” she said.
“I feel everybody appreciated me, and it felt that was a milestone for me,” she said.
She grew up in Shinnston before she met her husband Rick and moved to Lumberport.
Her husband has developed osteoporosis and has had multiple fractures.
“God put me on this earth to be in the medical field and starting me out with helping my grandpa, it’s kind of went circle because my husband’s an amputee,” she said.
She has a daughter, Caitlin Waggy, and a son, Robby Waggy. She also has two grandchildren.
After 40 years, she isn’t planning on retiring anytime soon. At 59, she said she’ll probably retire at 60 or 65.
“As long as I’m able to do it, I will be here doing it,” she said.