SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Melba James, St. Joseph’s Health Hospital is a second home. She’s worn many hats during her 21 years working here. A friend first suggested she become a phlebotomist in the Emergency Department.

“So I thought, ‘sure why not?’ I’ll try it. And I did and I loved it,” James recalled.

She did that for about four years, before deciding to become a nurse.

“What really pushed me to do that was because my manager at the time, saw a lot of potential in me and actually grabbed me by the arm one day and said, ‘You should become a nurse. Follow me.’ And walked me over to the College of Nursing and we sat down and had a little impromptu meeting with the Dean of Students.”

Melba James, Capacity Management Center Director at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital

It was the push she needed as she was deciding what to do professionally.

“I had been praying to figure out, ‘Lord please help me out a career path.’ I felt like that was just the sign that I needed,” James added.

The majority of her time at St. Joe’s was spent in the ER, eventually becoming a supervisor. Now she’s working as the Director of the Capacity Management Center while also working to address diversity and inclusion at the hospital.

“One of my mottos is always when you leave a person, make sure you leave an impression upon them,” James explained. “Part of that plays into being a nurse and diversity too because you don’t know what people are coming from, you don’t know what situation they’re in.”

Now that she’s in management, she doesn’t work directly with patients as much as she used to, but if needed she will jump right in.

“When I’m here, if a staff member calls and someone needs to go talk to a patient or there’s an overhead cart call or something like that yes, I most certainly do respond,” James said.

She’s hands on, while giving a hand up.

“I encourage the patient care techs that come in, the house keepers that come in from other countries, be what you want to be. If you want to be a nurse we can help you do that. Someone did it for me. I can certainly help you do it too.”

Melba James