Huggin' Hazel gets a shout-out
Feb 11, 2013 (The Macon Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
WARNER ROBINS --
Hazel Colson has seen the circle of life.
She has been a nurse since Jan. 1, 1945. She has brought babies into the world, given shots, taken temperatures, X-rayed broken bones and patched folks back together.
As a hospice nurse for the past 27 years, she has been there for patients at the end of their lives. She has held their hands and hugged their necks.
"We don't talk about death," she said. "We talk about living until they die."
Hazel is known for wrapping her arms around everyone she meets and greets. That is how she got her nickname: "Huggin' Hazel." She believes hugging is the best medicine on the planet. I believe there is sufficient evidence to back that up.
In 1985, Hazel began working for Heart of Georgia Hospice when it was known as Hospice of Houston County. It has grown to serve 10 counties in Middle Georgia and is the only nonprofit hospice operating in Houston County.
Hazel will be 86 years old Sunday and will be honored with a birthday party on Friday at the Heart of Georgia Hospice offices on Westridge Drive. It's a drop-in from 2-4 p.m., and the public is invited.
"Anyone is welcome who wants to come enjoy a cupcake and a hug from Mrs. Hazel," said Sherry Robinson, the human resources manager for Heart of Georgia Hospice. "She has touched so many lives."
Hazel has long maintained "nurses are born, not made." If it truly is in their blood, then she must be proof A-positive.
After all, she was mending "boo boos" in Wilkinson County long before there was a Honey Boo Boo. She grew up on a farm near McIntyre without a telephone or indoor plumbing.
She once nursed her dog, Jip, back to health after a wagon ran over the dog's leg. When she was in the first grade, she saw a nurse in a white uniform and hat and knew that was her calling.
While working at her uncle's grocery store, Hazel got a letter seeking candidates for the Cadet Nurses Corps. She received her training at the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Augusta.
In 1950, she married Jay Colson, from Johnson County. He loved to fish with her father and brothers. As newlyweds, they lived in Macon, where she worked at the Catholic-run Mercy Hospital.
They moved to Warner Robins in 1952, and Hazel was one of the first nurses at the Warner Robins Clinic when it opened its doors in 1954.
The clinic had just five beds, so the staff would sometimes have to bring roll-aways from home and place them in the hallway. In those days, there were no disposable gloves. Syringes had to be sterilized, sharpened and re-used.
When the Houston Medical Center opened in 1960, Hazel worked for eight different doctors over the years before she became a hospice nurse. She still works one weekend every month at Elberta Nursing Home.
Folks in Warner Robins love her. She was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Civitan Club in 2003. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, she was selected as one of the honorary torchbearers for the Olympic torch when it went through Warner Robins.
I've known Hazel for the past eight years. She is everything you could ask for in a nurse. She is smart, sweet and compassionate. She treats her patients as people, not names on a medical chart.
Huggin' Hazel will be giving out plenty of hugs at Friday's party.
It will be an afternoon when everybody hugs back.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
___ (c)2013 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.) Visit The Macon Telegraph (Macon,
Ga.) at www.macon.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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