Progress 2024: DeShawn Core, the heart of EAMC-Lanier

Published 11:30 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

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DeShawn Core has worked at East Alabama Medical Center Lanier for over 20 years. He started as a volunteer, cleaning and doing laundry. He had a good attitude and work ethic, so he was hired as an employee.

Core had come to the hospital from the Achievement Center in Opelika. According to their website, the Achievement Center’s purpose is to provide “vocational development services and extended employment programs for individuals with physical, mental and developmental disabilities. They also offer services to other culturally, socially, or economically disadvantaged populations.”

Core has autism. His mom said when he was born the doctors were unsure if he would be able to walk or talk. On the contrary, Core is a Valley High School and achievement center graduate and one of EAMC-Lanier’s most beloved and hard-working employees. 

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The Lanett Hospital hires quite a few individuals who come out of the center. The Achievement Center has a Certified Nurse Aid (CNA) class, whose graduates are among EAMC-Lanier’s employees. 

Core went to the hospital as a volunteer, at the advice of his mother. It was a way for him to stay busy after leaving the achievement center. He took the on-the-job skills learned in Opelika to his volunteering. The staff quickly realized Core was a worker worth hiring. 

“I take out the trash, I fold, I make sure I do counts on the floors, I sweep, dust, mop,” Core said in a measured and clear voice. Core’s title is a custodial worker, although the job encompasses a host of duties.

Danita Sims, an administrator in EAMC-Lanier, said the hospital could not be run without the laundry and custodial staff. Making sure the patient’s rooms, their bedsheets and waiting rooms are clean contributes not only to the comfort of everyone who comes into the hospital but to their health as well. 

Core takes his job as seriously as it is, saying, “I step in and do what needs to be done.”

He starts his days at the hospital by going around the building and emptying all the garbage cans. Core said part of his job now is paperwork, having to keep track of the laundry that is done throughout the day. 

“I like to make sure my paperwork is up to par … once I get my paperwork right it’s all good from there,” Core said.

He has other responsibilities like mopping the floors and vacuuming. Occasionally, his supervisor will ask him to do something specific, but Core said he’s been doing it long enough that he just does what needs to be done.

He obviously appreciates a job done well. When asked how he likes his coworkers at the hospital, Core said simply, “Yes, as long as they keep a good attitude. That’s important. As long as they keep a good attitude and do what they are supposed to do…Then everything’s falling into place.”

He is enthusiastic when he spies a coworker, greeting them with a hug and a big smile.

While he seems to genuinely enjoy the company of his coworkers, his philosophy for the job is more individualistic.

“I try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. I focus on what I need to be doing,” Core said.

In his time away from work, Core likes to remain just as busy. He said he likes to learn new things, through writing, playing video games and reading scripture. 

“I like sports. I watch it 24/7 If I have to. I like sports because it keeps me busy,” he said smiling. Core adds that his favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. An interesting choice for a Valley native, but he said it’s because “they know how to win.”

Staying busy runs in the family according to Core. Core’s mother drives him to and from his job, and the two like to shop together. He adds that he is appreciative of her. His dad is an auto mechanic. Core said he is unlikely to sit long, always trying to find something to do. He had some kind words for his sister also.

“I am proud of her,” Core said sincerely. “She helped me out in a lot of ways. And I appreciate her for that…I like to stay appreciative.”

Core continues to look for new challenges outside of the hospital.

After a long pause, Core smiled and said, “Oh, I got dreams. Yes, I have dreams.”

He lists three dreams. He wants to have a home where he can live by himself with “a ride to go with [the house].” Responsibly, Core said his second dream is to save his money. 

Finally, Core wants to own a business. 

“It’s definitely gonna be a sport [company], which won’t be an easy job. No, it’ll be a challenge,” Core said smiling and shaking his head.

But, Core seems to relish the challenges. After 20 years, Core is content and plans to remain as a custodian at EAMC-Lanier as long as “everyone does their part.” There seems to be no worry about that, with Core leading the charge.