John McDonald nurses recall fond memories

Posted November 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

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By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

A group of 10 former nurses from John McDonald Hospital visited the facility last week, taking in all of the changes that have been made to the building recently.

Those who toured the former hospital were Norma McDonell, Pat Ward, Joyce Nosbish, Betty Prull, Joanne Recker, Shirley Simmons, Rita Welter, Lynn Rollinger, Larita Kurt and Linda Ahlrichs.

As the gals were given a tour of the three floors of the building, they recalled where certain areas of the hospital were located. The third floor used to consist of the OB, the operating room, nurses station, CCU (coronary care unit), and rooms in case of patient overflow. Where the new senior dining center has been established, that area used to be the old emergency room. The gals reminisced about how the ambulances would back up to the doorway of the ER, as a doctor and nurse waited for their arrival.

“Coming down to the ER from the third floor, you never knew what you were going to see,” they said of the patients in the ER.

The group still gets together for an annual holiday dinner. They also meet for coffee from time to time.

“We heard of all the changes up here and wanted to see how much of a difference it is,” remarked Betty Prull.

While nurses today have a certain specialty under their belt, the ladies all said they were “jacks of all trades” in their time at John McDonald. They said you worked wherever you were needed in any department of the hospital from surgery to the maternity ward.

Many of the gals worked for 20-some years at John McDonald; many started out as nurses’ aids, working through nursing school during that time. They all agreed it was a good hospital to work at, though commented nothing looks the same.

“The old elevator is the only thing that looks familiar,” they laughed.

After John McDonald closed, baby deliveries were no longer offered in Jones County. Many of the former nurses recalled when their own children were born at John McDonald. Then, mothers and their babies stayed in the hospital for up to a week. Now, that timeframe might be just a couple of days.

Knowing how much they earned as nurses in their time, it’s hard to imagine making a living on that today, although they said things did not cost as much then. Some said they worked for $1.25 an hour as an aid, earning a little more after receiving a nursing certificate.

Many of these ladies still live in the area today, which allows them to stay in touch with one another.

PHOTO: Former nurses from John McDonald Hospital visited and toured the facility last week. They enjoyed a time of fellowship, reminiscing about their time working at the former hospital. Seated from left are Betty Prull, Norma McDonell, Pat Ward and Joyce Nosbish. Standing are, Joanne Recker, Shirley Simmons, Rita Welter, Lynn Rollinger, Larita Kurt and Linda Ahlrichs. (Photo by Kim Brooks)