Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 12:25 PM
Now he's just "Andy" to everyone he helps and he's enjoying every minute of it.
Hospital visitors are used to seeing volunteers offering assistance. A surprise is seeing a doctor in the role of directing people to physicians’ offices, helping them find the elevators and making coffee.
Dr. Andrew Finlay spent 46 years on the medical staff at Marshall Medical South - the longest serving doctor in the history of the hospital. He retired in 2016 and decided to volunteer following the death last summer of his beloved wife of 29 years, Martha Jane.
“I had no job and no mate,” he recalls. “I needed something to do besides feeling sorry for myself.”
So he signed up, and the administration gave him double duty. Four days a month, Dr. Finlay sits at the desk of the surgery waiting area and assists patients or families of patients having surgery. On remaining weekdays, Dr. Finlay spends an hour and a half calling those same patients to see how they are doing following their procedure. He has logged more than 300 hours since he started last August.
“I really enjoy seeing people and talking to them,” he says with his signature smile. “It gets me out of the house.”
They really enjoy seeing him too, judging by how many people know Dr. Finlay by name. His name tag reads simply “Andy.”
“This is kind of an extension of what I used to do,” he says. “I like talking to people.”
Hospital employees also like to stop and chat or tease their old friend. Dr. Finlay says it’s because he is one of them.
“Not all physicians have the relationship with employees that I do here,” he says. “There are not many things I wouldn’t do for them or them for me. That’s why it’s so easy for me to do this. I love it. It’s my thing and I like to do it.”
Dr. Finlay, a beloved physician, harmonica player and needlepoint artist, started work at Marshall South – then known as the Boaz-Albertville Hospital – in 1970.
“There was no other internist in the county at the time,” he recalled during an interview for the hospital’s 60th anniversary. “I thought it would be good for me and a good opportunity to offer medical services in the area.”
Dr. Finlay, originally from Guntersville, built a practice inside the hospital that grew up around him. His father was a doctor with a family practice in Guntersville.
In 1970, he was finishing his residency in Buffalo, N.Y. after attending undergraduate school at Sewanee University and medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans. He spent 1963 in Florence, SC, doing rotating internships and then on to Buffalo where he stayed until 1970, except for 1965-67 while he served in the U.S. Navy.
Besides working, Dr. Finlay has a few fun hobbies. He learned to love needlepoint from Martha Jane. He has stitched approximately 85 pieces, many of which he has given as gifts. He is also an avid grower of azaleas and rhododendrons, cultivating his yard into a springtime showplace. And a form of entertainment he has discovered recently is midget wrestling events in Boaz, which he has attended four times. And oh, he also plays a mean harmonica, as fellow physicians he's entertained at their annual Christmas party will attest to.
Dr. Finlay has four children and 11 grandchildren. He plans to take a few days off from volunteering this month to drive to New Orleans for his 65th class reunion at Tulane University, where he graduated from medical school in 1963.