When Dottie started to work at Smith Chitwood Hospital, back in 1962, construction of the original facility was still being finished up.
When she retired in August 2005, 43 years later, she had seen lots of changes in the facility, the organization, and in medicine.
She has witnessed additions to the hospital, the remodeling of the hospital and is aware of the current changes and programs planned for the hospital.
"It's been quite a change: change in building, change in people," she said last week.
Hance, who grew up Dorothy Dillehay, is a Macon County native. She began her career as a nursing assistant at Smith Chitwood after graduating high school. She went on to complete a licensed practical nursing program in 1968.
After obtaining her LPN, she remained a loyal employee at the local hospital where she has worked for the last 43 years.
She was married to J.W. Hance and has one son, Greg.
She was assigned as a general floor nurse in the hospital. In her first years, there wasn't nearly as much specialization in medicine as now. Departments like lab and x-ray, which now employ dozens of people each, were combined back then.
Hospital nurses cared for patients, assisted in obstetric and surgical procedures, and did whatever needed to be done, including sharpening needles and wrapping sponges for surgery in their spare time.
When she started, the hospital was only a small portion of the current complex.
While the building has grown, partly on account of the new technologies and additional services offered these days, Dorothy and her co-workers have grown also, grown closer together.
She began under the leadership of Jerri Harper. Mazell Ellis, Mazell Draper, Dixie Wooten, Marie Bryant Toney and herself are considered to be the core nurses at Macon General. This group of women have shared their lives both personally and professionally.
With tear filled eyes, friend and co-worker Dixie Wooten said, "Dottie's been a true friend. We've worked side by side for many years."
Current director of nursing Barbara Solomon said, "She is one of the most dependable people I've ever met. She always puts others first and has been a patient advocate and mentor to other nurses."
Sarah Cotten who has worked with Dottie for 21 years, said, "She is one of the most wonderful employees I have worked with, she never complains and more than carries her load, she will be missed." Other co-workers described Dottie as a good care provider and a good friend.
Back when Hance started, the hospital offered many types of services. A maternity mother and child might stay a week; now they go home in a couple of days from hospitals that offer delivery. Back then, a patient who had their gallbladder removed might stay ten days to two weeks; now they can have outpatient surgery. Some patients would even stay a month, especially those who were terminally ill. Dottie received training to handle all types of patients. And for the past few years, Dottie has used that training and worked in the ER and surgery units of the hospital.
Though she decided to retire from work, she isn't done with nursing. One of the reasons she gave up working full time was to care for her own health problems. She said she wanted to work for another year, but her health required her to slow down now. She said, "This is not an ordinary retirement, my health is telling me I have to slow down."
She plans to spend more time at her hobbies, (cooking, sewing, gardening,) and maybe do a little traveling. She said, "I plan to just enjoy life."