FITFS Lois Roelofs Champion of Nurses into the 21st Century

LOIS ROELOFS

Blogging Heroes

Blogging Heroes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am hesitant to write today’s FITFS (Following in the FootSteps) series for two reasons.  The first is that Kathleen Korthuis, Lois’s sister passed away October 5, 2012 and so her focus is on preparing Kay’s eulogy and dealing with the sorrow and loss experienced by her family, friends and herself.  You know that the purpose of FITFS is to honor my heroes.  Writers of the blogging world who inspire me to be better and to somehow emulate them.  Writers have allowed me in some way to be part of their life.  I decided to go ahead with this post to let Lois know that she is in our hearts at this very difficult time.

The second reason I hesitated is that Lois is exactly who I would like emulate but she has set the bar high.  She is the ideal for me and I am in awe of her life and what she has accomplished and continues to accomplish.

Like me, Lois Roelofs has her heroes and certainly the most important was her sister Kay who was her lifelong career mentor.  In fact both of them attended the Blodgett Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and Lois’s 50th reunion takes place this weekend prior to Kay’s service.  How bitter sweet that must be.  Kay graduated in 1955, Lois in 1962, – oh and me from South Waterloo Memorial Hospital in 1969.  That’s right.  There is a sisterhood bond here beyond writing, nursing and blogging.

You know how some people, like all of my heroes, do what so many do, but they do it with that extra touch of class?  It is that extra touch that I guess I want to emulate.

Lois, says in her ‘About’ page that she initially started the Blog to center around the publication of her career memoir, Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self.  She is a Chicago girl, wife, Mom, and Grandma.

Blodgett Memorial Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a nurse from about the same era touches my heart and makes me get all mushy about old hospitals and old uniforms. (I still think the old fashioned hats signifying who the registered nurse is instead of non-nursing staff was wonderful.  We worked hard to get those black bands on crisply starched hats).  I took the photo below from the Blodgett web site and Lois also has the same one on her post of October 6th.  Kay helped open the first intensive care unit in the country in 1958 and she is the nurse poised over the desk.

Kathleen E. korthuis, PhD, RN

Lois I know this FITFS may seem more about Kay than you and someday soon I may do another honoring only yourself for your incredible achievements.  But I hope you will let me join you in dedicating this post to your sister,

KATHLEEN E. KORTHUIS, PhD, RN 1934-2012

Folks I hope you will stop by to visit Lois, read about her incredible life, say hi, and leave a comment or two.

“When Men were Men and Women were Women” and Nursing Students Were Young Ladies.

I have no idea where this saying came from except it is pretty old. I think I heard it as a child in a song about the early west, when…  Thinking of things old got the memory blister starting to bubble and boil.  Again.

Some people came to see to see my apartment the other day and one of the girls looked at a print I have on my wall which depicts a modern day nurse with a young patient and In the background there is an apparition of a medical scene with a nurse but the ghostly scene is as it would have appeared probably fifty years prior.  She asked if I was a nurse.

Friends of mine who were in the teaching profession have the same type of pictures but the depictions are of classroom scenes present and past.  Tonight when sleep dodged my tired brain my thoughts went back to what it was like when I was a probie in 1966.

Male nurses were rare.  I don’t think in three years of training I ever met one.

It was expected that ‘young ladies’ who entered training did not have part time jobs, because after all we were young ladies.

Our uniforms and caps were washed and starched heavily by the hospital laundries.

Nursing students lived in residences that had connecting underground tunnels to the hospital.

We had a Housemother whose apartment was on the first floor close to the reception area.  If we left the residence we had to sign in and out and mark the times.  Very strict curfews!  Young men calling to take a student out on a date never got past the reception area which did have a seating area.

Nothing was disposable.  Everything was metal or glass including syringes.  Needles were resterilized and you had to look for burrs on the end of them which occurred after multiple use. (Very difficult and painful entry for the patient if you missed one!)

Morphine came in pills which we had to dilute in saline and draw up for injection.

Doctors were very much the boss and we the handmaidens.

We mixed and applied mustard plasters for chest congestion.

There were no nasal cannulas or masks.  If someone needed oxygen they went into an oxygen tent which was moist, noisy and cold.

First years were at the mercy of the older students in subtle ways.  On my first day there was a lovely reception held for us and our parents.  Cake and tea for the adults.  We had a delightful punch the middle years had made for us.

On arising to knocks on the doors the next morning we hustled off to the large bathroom to get ready and everyone of us believed we might be dying.  The punch had been spiked with Pyridium a drug typically used for urinary tract infections, a side effect of which is red urine.  Some people see red, we peed it.

They were fun years of learning, of laughing and more than once crying.

They were great years, Pyridium and all!

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