Denise Malone, 62, has been working as a dental assistant and office manager at Dr. Thomas Brannon’s office on 12th Avenue South for the last 38 years.
At the end of April, Denise, born and raised in Nashville, will have to find another job because the building she has built a career in will soon become a new site for apartment buildings.
“I’ve been right here all my life,” she said. A mother of two adults and three grandchildren, she graduated from Cameron High School in 1971 and from OIC, Opportunities Industrialization Center, a trade school in Nashville, in 1975.
A few years ago, Denise was asked to fill the position of office manager.
She helps with being a dental assistant but she also handles appointments, managing the phones, and keeping tract of records and insurance.
“It’s something to see the city grow like this,” she said. She said expected the city to change like it has. “Each and every week you see how things [in the community] change; building and tearing down, building and tearing.”
CHANGE is DIFFICULT but GOOD
“We’ve known the building had been sold since December, and in December we thought we would have until next December (2016). No. We talked to the people who bought the building and the told us we’ve got to be out by April,” she said.
The dentist office shares a building with the Special Olympics Tennessee. The Special Olympics Tennessee has found a new location, but Dr. Brannon’s office will close for good.
“I’m not happy about it,” she said. “I’m not ready to retire, so I’ve got to find me a job. I don’t want to say I know only dental. I know other things but dental has been my life. I love it.”
Denise explained that finding or building a new dentist office would be too difficult with such short notice.
“When we put X-ray rooms in we have to have lead between the wall, and plumbing through the floors,” she said. She said Dr. Brannon was getting too up in age to try to find another building and go through that process. “I can understand that.”
Moved close to tears when asked how she felt about houses and businesses being tore down for new big businesses, “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s hard to explain,” she said. “The change is a good thing. All the people around us, we knew one day it was going to come.”
Denise said one of the best things about her job is working with people.
“Getting them in and talking to them, I’ve met people from everywhere, Africa, Canada, the list goes on,” she said stating a lot of them have been students.
As they city grows, so does it’s diversity and Denise said she’s seen that reflective in the diversity of her patients.
“I like to take care of our patients,” she said currently in the process of going through every chart from every patient, about 10,000 and filing them for storage.
Meanwhile, she is trying to find new dentists for all of Dr. Brannon’s patients.
She said the most difficult part is a lot of other dentist don’t accept the insurance plans that Dr. Brannon does.
“It’s business right now.”
HER COMMUNITY, HER LOVE
Denise, one of four sisters and the second oldest, grew up in south Nashville in the Murfreesboro Rd. area. At 16, her mom moved off of Clarksville Hwy in a new subdivision called Meadow Hills. She said her mom still lives in the same house and enjoys cooking and baking for the whole family.
Now divorced, Denise moved out to Hermitage about 18 years ago, and said it has grown much like the downtown area.
“Sometimes things grow a little faster than I want them to, but I know that’s life. Everything changes.”
Outside of work, Denise likes to visits nursing homes. She said she values the wisdom and the lessons she can learn from them.
“I love going to visit older people. They give you great perspectives on everything. They tell you what to do and what not to do.”
“I’ve got these little old ladies who love just going to the store. Now, they don’t really need anything but we’d spend all day at the store. They love just being out and getting out.
Denise also loves children.
“I used to have the fun house. Whatever my nieces, nephews and grandchildren wanted to do for the weekend we would do. I would have a car packed with children.”
ROAD WORK to a FUTURE
Denise is still unsure of what her future will look like, but she knows she’s not sitting down anytime soon.
“I have thought about doing something different. I had thought about being a crossing guard. I would know all the children’s names,” she laughed. “I’ll keeping that as an option. I might even do that.”
As far as the city, Denise said the interstates and roads are what most concern her about Nashville today and moving forward.
“We’re not going to have enough (room) for transportation with all the people moving here. We need some kind of transportation system.”
Denise said she thinks a rail system, would be beneficial in moving people effectively through the city to places they need to be.
“In the next, 38 years, the city is going to have to figure out something. People are going to be walking over each other,” said Denise “I can’t tell you what it is, but I think they’ll figure something out.”