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Baptist Memorial Hospital's Longtime Friend Defies Physical Odds to Continue Working

By Meagan McGee
hottytoddy.com contributor

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi might have a brand new building, but a certain employee is bringing 38 years worth of history with her. 

Herren was put in charge of creating a memory wall called “Oxford Medical Community Through the Years.” It is located in the cafeteria of the hospital. Photo by Meagan McGee.

One of Baptist’s longtime friends, Lila Herren, has been working for the hospital for 38 years. She worked at the Memphis location for 10 years before moving back to her birthplace, Oxford, in 1989.
Herren is a popular figure at the hospital, which is evident by the number of people who stop to greet her. She is known for being unconditionally caring toward others.
Anna Beth McNeely said she has volunteered for eight years with Herren. She said Herren holds a tremendous amount of responsibility and fulfills every part of it. McNeely volunteers every Tuesday and said throughout the years she and Herren still meet for lunch every week.
“Ms. Lila is a very special person in my life,” McNeely said.
Herren’s path to Baptist Memorial Hospital was paved by her parents. Her mother, Celia May Queen, worked as a nurse at the hospital during her life. She said the people who knew her mother best called her ‘Queen.’
Queen wasn’t the only contributor to Herren’s interest in the hospital. She said her father was known for his kind and compassionate character. Through the outstanding love and thoughtfulness taught to her by her parents, she knew this was something she was destined to do.
When the hospital changed locations Herren was put in charge of creating a memory wall, located in the cafeteria, called “Oxford Medical Community Through the Years.” 
She only included the most noteworthy events, even though she said she could have filled every wall in the room. One picture she pointed out was of Dr. Lloyd G. Hopkins assisting Archie Manning on the field. Another was a photo of her mother dressed in her nursing uniform next to her nursing certificate.
Herren’s side table holds a picture of her and her granddaughter Laura Ann, along with a collection of Queen’s cherished nursing books. Photo by Meagan McGee.

“They wanted me to put my baby picture in there, but I wanted it to just be about Mama,” Herren said.
Herren is the Patient Advocate and Director of Volunteers and handles patients’ complaints and grievances for the hospital.
“Sometimes they just need someone to listen,” she said.
Two years ago, Herren found herself inside the hospital walls taking on a much different role. She battled for months to get through her regular day at work and said she could barely stand for everyday tasks.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” she said. “I could hardly put one foot in front of the other.”
After talking to a doctor she realized she was experiencing acute renal failure. She immediately went to see a nephrologist but found herself in an even more severe situation after the visit. 
“They sent me home about 5 p.m. from that office, and at 10 p.m. I called a friend and told them, ‘You’re going to have to come get me to go to the hospital.’”
Herren was experiencing extreme septic shock from an infection in her kidneys. She said that bacteria had formed around kidney stones she never knew she had. She and her doctors were unaware of the stones because she showed no symptoms.
“Had I waited one more hour I would have been beyond being able to be saved,” she said.
Herren has dealt with more than one physical obstacle this year, as she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. In May, she had a pacemaker put in and said now her heart is back in good health.
Herren said she struggles with her kidneys and continues to battle infections to this day, yet nothing keeps her for too long from coming in to work to make sure that others are cared for.
Harold Bridges, a volunteer at the hospital, said if you know Herren personally you know what a sweet person she truly is.
“With the physical difficulties she has, I’m amazed by the attitude she has,” Bridges said. “If anything were to cause her a problem she would always overcome it.”
She said the strength and will to overcome it all came from the love for her granddaughter, Laura Ann, whom she is raising.
“The Lord promised me that I can raise this grandbaby,” Herren said, “And He’s walked beside me for 16, almost 17 years, and I’m not finished. I’m just not finished.”

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