Job and a party as hospital hires 1,000th employee

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Photo -   Ashley Wharton, a physician assistant at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, is greeted with cheers by the staff on her first day of work on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Wharton is the 1,000th employee to be hired at Mary Free Bed. The hospital has experienced a 36% growth in staff in the past 17 months. (AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Emily Zoladz)
Ashley Wharton, a physician assistant at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, is greeted with cheers by the staff on her first day of work on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Wharton is the 1,000th employee to be hired at Mary Free Bed. The hospital has experienced a 36% growth in staff in the past 17 months. (AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Emily Zoladz)
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Cake, applause, a red carpet — not a typical first day at work.

Well, it turns out that Ashley Wharton isn't your typical physician's assistant. A Grand Rapids hospital celebrated her arrival Monday because she's the 1,000th employee.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has added 267 workers since summer 2011, a 36 percent increase, after deciding to remain independent and not merge with another hospital.

The Grand Rapids Press (http://bit.ly/TWfZK9 ) says Wharton was a bit overwhelmed by all the fuss. She will work in the admissions department, evaluating new patients and helping others leave the hospital.

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