David Dixon of Wake Forest is the latest Ambassador of the Month at Johnston Health. He has been a respiratory therapist at the hospital in Smithfield for three and a half years.
Ruth Marler, chief operating officer, said patients describe Dixon as compassionate and willing to explain every detail and step of the procedure or treatment. “The best come from patients and families,” she said.
The Ambassador program recognizes employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Among other things, the honorees receive eight hours of paid time off and a personalized parking sign.
In a typical night, Dixon sees as many as 35 patients. He is trained in emergent and routine respiratory care for all patients, from newborns to the aged.
“Knowing when to intervene is the key to avoiding a crisis,” Dixon said. “You’re rapidly developing a plan that can affect someone’s life – whether it’s to reduce the length of stay in the hospital or lengthen their stay on this earth.”
After graduating with an associate’s degree in May 1977, Dixon took a job as assistant director of respiratory care at Nash General in Rocky Mount. Two years later, he was promoted to director.
“I ate, slept, drank and breathed it,” he said of his work.
During his career, he has also sold medical equipment related to respiratory care. That job required traveling all over the country. For those 12 years, he was often asked to speak at health-related conventions and trade shows.
For 11 years, Dixon was a shift supervisor at WakeMed, where he oversaw 16 respiratory therapists. “I walked 11 miles a night and burned 3,000 calories,” he said.
Dixon says he has enjoyed his career. “Even after 38 years in the profession, I can’t wait to get up and come to work,” he said.
In addition to his job at Johnston Health, Dixon also works full time at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.
In their spare time, Dixon and his wife, Eve, a critical-care nurse, enjoy traveling, spending time at the beach and entertaining their grandchildren.