“It’s been my life,” Wibel said. “The people that I worked with, I’ve enjoyed every one of them ... and, of course, [I enjoyed] the patients.
“I love working with the patients. ... [Overall], I enjoyed my work. I prayed about what I should do when I was in high school and that’s the answer I got was to be a nurse and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Working at the hospital in Cartersville since it was called Sam Howell Memorial, Wibel has seen many changes during her nursing career, from the name and location of her work site to technology.
“In 40 years, this day and time [I have seen] changes you wouldn’t believe,” Wibel said. “[For example], the things that had to be sterilized and now they’re just throw away, and the computer. The computer was a big deal, at least for me.
“... Had I not been working every day and learned it [a] little bit at a time, I don’t know that I could have done like a lot of women do who go away from nursing for 10, 20 years and then try to get back in it. I don’t know how they do that. I really don’t. There’s been just huge changes as far as how things are done.”
Enjoying the personalized care that a smaller hospital, like Cartersville Medical Center, provides, Wibel said the opportunity to care for multi-generations of families over several decades was a rewarding experience.
“A lot of people feel like that bigger is better, but bigger is not always better because you’ll get more personalized care at a smaller hospital,” Wibel said. “... I know there’s been different family members that I started out seeing when I was [working] in the emergency room and they came in and out of the hospital over all these years.
“I’ve seen families grow up and what’s amazing to me is that they remember me. ... I have a lot of people that come up to me and say, ‘Well, how are you?’ and ‘I haven’t seen you in so long.’ I can remember their face but a lot of times can’t remember their names. But after I talk to them for a while, then I can put the faces with sometimes … almost the whole family.”
Officially retiring Jan. 20, Wibel has not made any specific future plans, but is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, completing home improvement projects, working on crafts and reading.
“Gail is loved and respected by all who’ve worked with her,” said Lisa Ponder, director of Medical-Surgical Services at Cartersville Medical Center. “Her many years as a primary nurse have provided her with experience in just about every nursing situation. There’s not much that she hasn’t seen.
“Gail is one of those nurses that everyone looks to for the right answer. One of her peers even used to say WWGD — What Would Gail Do. She has quietly and patiently taught so many nurses through the years. Her patient care was always top-notch. She will be greatly, greatly missed by her patients and co-workers.”