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Turn Back Time: RMC opens time capsule from 25 years ago
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From left to right: Dee Higgins, Paula LeCates, Kim Hubbard and Karen Thomas were all members of the Caring, Attitude, Respect, and Enthusiasm (CARE) committee that intiated the time capsule idea 25 years ago. - photo by Martin Rand, III/The News

CONYERS - Current and former Rockdale Medical Center (RMC) staff and employees took a trip Monday afternoon to a time before everyone used computers and phones were kept in your pocket.

To be exact, they went back 25 years via objects wrapped in plastic and perfectly preserved by the RMC employees at the time, who pegged today for the items to be unveiled to the world again.

Nearly 100 items from 1990 were on display in the East Wing at RMC, including pictures, videocassette tapes, a hard hat, hospital equipment, billing reports, posters, hospital advertisements, t-shirts, magazines and the hospital organizational chart to name a few.

The four women who were on the Caring, Attitude, Respect, and Enthusiasm (CARE) committee which was responsible for the time capsule idea in 1990 unveiled the items to the large audience of about 50 people at the hospital.

Karen Thomas was a part of CARE and worked in the marking relations and communications department of RMC 25 years ago. She says the whole idea behind the time capsule was to build team support and get employees involved.

"We met once a month and tried to come up with ideas to foster that," said Thomas. "I had one of those junk magazines that you get at Christmas time and it had a time capsule in it. I thought, since we were getting ready to open the East Wing, that might be interesting to do when we're dedicating the building to do something like this."

All hospital departments were asked to put in something that would represent their respective departments, she says. The items were all wrapped together in about 15 packages and placed inside a wall of the East Wing."I remember saying ‘If I'm still alive, I'll come back,' and here I am," she said.

The CARE committee representatives at the event also included Kim Hubbard, former vice-president of marketing, Paula LeCates, former education director for RMC, and Dee Higgins.

Some of the items from 1990 really showed how far this generation has come in terms of technology. There were two videocassette tapes included in the package, but there isn't a single VCR at RMC to watch the tapes.

"We may never know what's on these tapes," joked Hubbard to the crowd.

The group took a moment to read a letter written by former RMC employee Larry Whisenand, who was in attendance. The group called Whisenand up to read the letter aloud to the crowd.

"I was very surprised," he said about the discovery of the letter. "I don't remember writing it."

Whisenand opted not to read the letter and instead let Thomas read it aloud. In the letter, Whisenand states that he hopes all the departments are still enjoying the "super-duper" relationships that existed between in 1990.

"I don't think I could've read it without choking up a little," said Whisenand.

As the group made their way down the table of items, they made a note that all the reports from that time period were all created using a typewriter because there weren't any computers.

"In 25 years, a lot of things have happened in our community and in our hospital," said RMC CEO Debra Armstrong. "Lots and lots of change."

Armstrong went on to list a number of advancements that the hospital has achieved in the 25 years since the time capsule was planted, including a developed a surgical robotics program and hyperbaric oxygen treatment to treat chronic and non-healing wounds.

The hospital will also be adding more beds for patients in the intensive care unit, and starting a new cardiology program to treat people who are experiencing serious issues with heart disease in August, says Armstrong.

"Lots and lots of things happened," she said. "We are definitely not a small, sleepy community hospital like maybe we were a little bit more 25 years ago."