Reflections: In appreciation of Ponoka’s nurses of yesterday and today

Looking back at the dedicated nurses from Ponoka from back in the day

This photo was taken in 1983 on the steps of the old Ponoka General Hospital. Shown top to bottom left to right are: Mildred Jabs; Maureen Schell, Hildur Peterson, and Donna Ogden; Linda Schickerowski and Marilyn Heatherington; Hazel Miller, Sharon Scott, and Betty Rowland; June Lee and Karen Deckert; Claire Surgenor, Pat Greenwell, and Shirley Cline; Sandra Phillipson and Helen Hageman; Janice Gill and Linda Smith; and Delphine Svenningson in front. Photos provided by Linda Volk and taken by Debbie Martin (Goodwin)

By Mike Rainone for the News

The nursing profession is a long standing and proud tradition in which hundreds of thousands of women and men have chosen to devote their entire working careers to the vital treatment, care, and wellness of families and individuals of all ages and from all walks of life on a hectic and ongoing 24-7 basis of never-ending shifts.

For countless decades in and around our thriving town and county of Ponoka many generations of dedicated nurses have worked and trained tirelessly together as a team with physicians, professionals, emergency services and support staffs in our vital local facilities that include: the Ponoka General Hospital, the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, and the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, as well as at Nursing Homes, special Care Centres, Health Units, Medical Clinics, Home Care and Safety services, and so many others, both here at home and in countless other locations.

In appreciation of the ongoing skills, compassion, and dedicated efforts of these so often referred to as ‘Guardian Angels’ your Reflections/Remember When page in the Ponoka News has toasted many of our Nursing Grad Classes and their colourful stories over the years, and this week we have some great photos of the 1980s nursing staffs at both the Ponoka General Hospital and the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre. Many of these RNs celebrated their graduation and then began their employment at our first Ponoka General Hospital and would then continue their careers at the new Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre or at other medical facilities and services in the community and beyond. While some of these ladies are still involved in nursing, most are now retired and others have sadly passed away, but they have always looked forward to their gala reunions and visits, where they can share and enjoy the memories of their favourite experiences and accomplishments as a dedicated nursing team, the countless friends they made, and the thousands of patients that they have faithfully served along the way.

Rules for early nurses

Whether you are a new nurse or have been around for a while it is always intriguing to take a look back at the long and proud history and tradition of the nursing profession. This amazing list, which I found on the Internet, vividly illuminates the day-to-day tasks and regulations pertaining to the life of a nurse in 1887, long before routine charting had even been invented. In addition to caring for your 50 patients on each shift each bedside nurse was required to follow these strict regulations.

• Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward as well as dust the patients’ furniture and window sills.

• Always maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal to keep the stove burning during the business of the days and nights.

• Light is very important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day the nurses are required to fill the kerosene lamps, trim the wicks, and clean the chimneys.

• The nurses’ daily notes are very important in aiding the Physician’s work. Always fill up your pens carefully and make sure the ink bottle is full. You may whittle your nibs to your own individual taste.

• Each nurse on day duty will report to work at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m., except on the Sabbath, on which she will be off from noon until 2 p.m.

• Graduate nurses in good standing with the Director of Nursing will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.

• Each nurse should lay aside from each pay day a goodly sum of her earnings for her benefits during her reclining years so that she will not become a burden. For example…if you earn $30 a month you should set aside $15.

• Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop, or frequents dance halls will give the Director of Nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity.

• The nurse who performs her labours and serves her patients and Doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day on her pay and a chance for promotion. Hey ladies, has it really changed that much over the past 130 years?

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