Switchboard operator Gleda Sejmanovic, of Downers Grove, is Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s 2011 employee of the year. She is pictured with Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Goebel.
Hinsdale - Almost every day, Gleda Sejmanovic runs into people who have known her for years but have never seen her face.
“The only thing people know about me is my voice,” she said. “In a way, it’s my little secret. Every day I get to help people anonymously.”
And just like that, she ducks down a small staircase to her office. No one knows where that is either.
A switchboard operator at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, Sejmanovic, of Downers Grove, has been connecting callers to patient rooms and answering all kinds of questions from employees inside the hospital for more than 40 years. Every weekday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., she sits next to two other switchboard operators a few feet away from the emergency room in the lower level of the hospital.
She may be on the phone most of the time, but in between calls, much of her life has played out in the hospital where she has worked for almost 43 years. That’s where so many of her stories take place. It’s where she met the love her life, Enver, and spent 20 years sitting by-by-side and talking to her best friend, Elba, about everything.
“This place has become a big part of my life,” said Sejmanovic, looking out her window. “It’s who I am. In a way, I grew up in this hospital. I have hard time thinking about leaving.”
For her work ethic and serving as an example to all Adventist Midwest Health employees, Sejmanovic was named the hospital’s 2011 Employee of the Year.
A Seventh-day Adventist and Kentucky native, Sejmanovic moved to Indiana when she was 11 years old. She was 20 years old when she was recruited to come to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital back in 1969 for a housekeeping job. Six months into that job, she decided to give the switchboard a try.
Today, she’s still there. The quiet solitude of the job has always appealed to Sejmanovic. Hour after hour, she answers questions, fixes problems and calms people down. Through the years, the job has even gotten a little easier. Today, she simply connects callers with the press of a button whereas when she started, Sejmanovic had to plug and pull at a series of jacks and cords while sitting in front of a huge panel. It fact, that’s what she was doing when she first spotted Enver Sejmanovic, a maintenance electrician, outside her office back in 1978.
“Oh my lands, I thought to myself, he is so handsome,” she said about her future husband, who has worked at the hospital for almost 40 years himself. “Then my co-worker put a bug in his ear that I was interested in him and he asked me out on a date. We got married four months later. I would love to see him all day if I could.”
But it’s more than the job and more than even Enver that’s kept Sejmanovic in front of her switchboard all this time. It’s also the hospital’s mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ.
“I’m so blessed to work here,” she said. “God has placed me here for a reason. The hospital’s mission and values are my mission and values. They mean so much to me. I never have to explain myself or my beliefs. I know our CEO is a good Seventh-day Adventist Christian man who understands. He is an inspiration to all employees.”
Michael J. Goebel, chief executive officer at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, said Sejmanovic’s attitude is an inspiration to other employees around her.
“Since the day Gleda stepped foot on our campus, she’s had perfect attendance,” Goebel said. “She never misses a day or comes in late. She has a huge impact on people’s lives and her fellow employees keep in touch with Gleda long after they leave the hospital. She really does love the mission of our hospital and is a shining example of our standards of behavior.”
Sejmanovic was recognized at Adventist Midwest Health’s annual Employee of the Year celebration, held in February. She received a plaque and a $1,000 check.
Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.
Media contact: Sheila Galloro, public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, Sheila.firstname.lastname@example.org; 630-856-2359.