MEMPHIS, Tenn. — He had plans to become a mechanic, but Leroy Newby found a different calling helping others. He’s works in the hyperbaric oxygen therapy department at Methodist Hospital.
“I thought I was gonna be an auto mechanic. So, I grew up in the car community working on cars. I didn’t know later in life that I would end up working on people,” said Newby.
Born and raised in Memphis, Newby went to Westwood High School, then on to Southwest Community College.
“I’ve worked for Methodist a period of 33 years and count. I actually started here at 18-years-old. I came in through housekeeping. I stripped and waxed floors. After that, a medical attendant. After that a CNA. After that mental health technician. After that wound care, where I am now as a hyperbaric technician.”
Newby has been working in the wound care area for 14 years.
“The hyperbaric chamber is actually an oxygen chamber. Breathing a true 100% oxygen, it takes a major effect on inside of the body. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat cancer patients, diabetic foot ulcers, bone infection patience and patience with the radiation damage,” he said.
“Most people looked at that oxygen chamber and it’s because you’re encased in the vault, they’re a little bit claustrophobic. They’re a little bit reluctant to get into it. But if I have a patient that’s willing to try it… sometimes it starts off with just laying on the stretcher. Sometimes I rolled them in and don’t close the door. And immediately if you tell me to take you out, I take you out,” Newby continued.
“And one of the other aspects about it, you’re never left alone. I actually sit right there next to you while you’re in there. The patient is on the key PA system. As far as them to talk to me they just talk. I can hear everything they say. It’s a phone on the outside that I used to communicate inside with the patient where my voice comes through the speaker.”
Newby has been recognized for his hard work over the years.
“A few years back, I received what we call The Power of One Award. And that’s one of the awards Methodist gives associates for going above and beyond, but not necessarily for something that has to do with their job,” he said. “In the case where I got mine, we had a patient he was the elderly gentleman. His walker, the brakes didn’t work on it. One of the wheels very lose and so myself, I went downstairs to my car, got a few tools out and tightened it up for him. I didn’t do it, you know, trying to win an award or anything. I didn’t even know I was gonna be nominated. But I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Newbey said he eventually plans to retire from Methodist, but he’s in no hurry.
“I enjoy what I do. So, I look forward to coming in every day. And I enjoy helping people. I enjoy returning people to a normal quality of life,” he said.