Ascension Sacred Heart associate achieves 50-year milestone working in the Lab | Ascension

Ascension Sacred Heart associate achieves 50-year milestone working in the Lab

Fifty years ago, gas was 55 cents a gallon, the Watergate scandal was the top news story and Linda Milton joined Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola, then known as Sacred Heart Hospital.

Milton, Lead Medical Laboratory Scientist who serves as Lab Coordinator, has actually worked for 56 years in the clinical laboratory field. She doesn’t anticipate retiring anytime soon because “it keeps my mind and my body going,” she said.

Linda earned her bachelor of science degree from Xavier University in New Orleans in 1966. “I have always been interested in science and was planning to become a pediatrician,” she said. “A lot of the courses you would take to become a medical technologist were ones you’d take for pre-med. But then I got married.”

Prior to joining the hospital in 1972 when she was 26, Milton worked as a laboratory technologist in several states as her husband was transferred every two years with IBM until they returned to their hometown of Pensacola. He took a computer science job with Naval Education and Training Command on board NAS Pensacola.

Why did Milton choose Sacred Heart? “I always thought it was the best hospital with the best caring staff and doctors, and I actually still feel the same way. I have been a patient here and my sister was a patient at the old hospital on 12th Avenue. We have excellent nursing care and people don’t realize how hard they work.”

Over the years, she has worked in every department of the lab, but her main focus has been chemistry. When she first joined the team, there were two people on the night shift, five on evening and 10 on day shift. Today, the lab employs 153 people on all three shifts. She also remembers when 80% of tests were manually performed. “Now everything is automated,” she said.

Milton also recalls the small space where the lab was first housed and how much it has grown, more than tripling in size. “We’ve had two major expansions in the lab since I’ve been here and now we have the Blood Bank up on the third floor and we’re also in the basement.”

As the lab grew, so did her career. She was a Chemistry Department supervisor and then the evening/night shift supervisor prior to her current job. “I have enjoyed what I do and the people I work with – it’s a win-win for me,” said Milton. “The people have made it enjoyable. They are dedicated, have great teamwork, have persevered through many changes, and they want to offer the best patient care.” 

What’s Milton’s secret to longevity at Sacred Heart? “I’ve survived because I’ve always been able to adapt,” she said, acknowledging that change is inevitable. “You have to be flexible.”