Amelia Bowen (Zarowny) (1951) - ?, 1957-1989
My Working History:
I first worked in the Elk Point hospital for a short time in 1950s in the kitchen and laundry. We worked split shifts, which I disliked with a passion. One week we would get 1 whole day off, the following week we got !4 day off. If I remember correctly my pay cheque was $52.00 per month. I think Mr. Arnott was the administrator then.
I quit my job at the hospital several months later got married and started our family. We were living across the road from the hospital in Hank Jacobson’s house. My mother came to live with us then. One day in the spring of 1957 there was a knock on the door. It was Dorothy Pelachowsky (better known as Buzzy) and her position was Head Nurse & Acting Matron. She told me that my mother was there to look after my 2 girls, there was no reason for me not to be working and that they were short of staff at the hospital. Within a few days I became a N.A. and spent the best and most enjoyable years of my life there.
For years we worked the 8-hr. shifts, the staff was wonderful, like one big happy family. In the spring of 1965 I resigned, hoping to stay home and raise the child I was expecting. Our son Kendall was bom June of 1965. Times were really hard back then so several months later I went back to work part-time permanent evenings. Before long they were so short staffed I was back full time. Two years later when Kim was bom I took maternity leave and continued working permanent evenings for several more years.
I continued to work until Thanksgiving of 1989. I often think about my wonderful years at the Elk Point Hospital and wish I could turn back the time to those good old days.
Some of my memories:
One day as I was drying dishes after lunch I walked out into the hallway (of the old hospital) just as the staff was wheeling a male patient towards a south ward. I went back to clean the kitchen and get ready for supper, I was off duty till 4:00 PM. I walked over to see who the patient was and what had happened, to my horror I found out it was my brother Metro. The neighbors, my dad and Metro were thrashing at my parent’s farm. The men were going in for dinner and I understand my brother’s team of horses was going too slow so he used his pitchfork and poked one of the horses with it. The horse kicked back real hard, the fork handle was forced into Metro’s stomach. The skin and flesh on his stomach weren’t punctured on the outside but the force ruptured his intestines. Dr.’s F.G. Miller & Dr. Ross operated and repaired the damage. Apparently when they opened him up there was wheat all over inside amongst the intestines. My sister in law tells me he remained in the hospital for 23 days. Today if something like that happened he would have been flown to the city as our local hospitals and Doctors couldn’t cope with something that major.
There were many good and fun times but we also saw many tragedies and when that happened we all felt like it happened to one of our own.
For several years we held our x-mas parties at the Elks Hall, we would think up different themes each year. The one x-mas we went with a Hawaiian theme and I remember making a palm tree using gunnysacks for the trunk, I spent days in the basement of the hospital making it. Donna Fedorus helped me.
I vividly remember Mrs. Papowich that lived just north of the hospital who grew a huge vegetable garden supplied veggies to the hospital. She had high blood pressure and when she delivered the veggies Buzzy would check her blood pressure. If it was high Buzzy took her into ward 16 and had her lay on the bed.
Then she would put a needle into the vein of her arm and a long tube that drained into ajar, she would then drain some of her blood, check her blood pressure again then send her home again. Probably back to work in her garden. I saw that take place so many times, but I don’t remember if she did eventually pass
on of a stroke. Back then Buzzy didn’t need a doctor’s order to do that. We never heard of disposable supplies then, we rinsed diapers in a big hopper and drug them downstairs to the laundry at the end of our shift. Then someone got a brain wave and made up a laundry chute that we used for dry soiled laundry but we couldn’t lift the big bags of wet soiled laundry so we still drug them down the hallway and downstairs. On the night shift we washed syringes, needles and medicine glasses. On days we washed and boiled bottles and nipples. Occasionally we boiled the nipples dry; there was quite a smell when that happened. At least back then we had windows that we could open to air out the diet kitchen. We also made up different formulas for Pediatrics and enough to last till the next morning.I remember spending 4 or 5 nights in the nurse’s residence before x-mas 1964. There was so much snow, travel was impossible. The winter of 1982 wasn’t a very nice one as well. The snowdrifts were % up to the top of the windows; the maintenance men had to remove it very carefully for fear the snow would
push the windows in.
Got report from Night Nurse.
Served breakfast and helped with the feeding then picked up trays.
Started bathing and bed making followed by treatments, diabetic snacks and diabetic foot care.
Answered call bells whenever one rang.
Then it was almost time for dinner again and the same routine started all over again.
Once every week we picked up bed pans, washed and returned them to the patients.
Back rubs, straightened beds, treatments again.
Took temps, admitting patients any time of day or night whenever there was an admission.
On Peds, all shifts, it was non-stop bathing, diaper changing, feedings, treatments, formula making.
At the end of each shift, the final diaper change, clean up, rinse diapers, and drag them downstairs.
Much the same as days except in the evenings we made lunches, sandwiches, then we passed them, cookies, and juice to the patients.
Then it was back rubs, changing draw sheets, and refreshing beds for bed time.
The bells never stopped ringing but we always had time to spend with our patients.
Washed medicine bottles and med glasses, syringes, needles every night.
Washed thermometers and shook them down on each shift, having them ready to use again.
Peggy Maas remembers a new nurse doing the thermometers but wasn’t told to hold her hand over the spinner, needless to say, they all flew in every direction ending up in hundreds of splinters. The poor nurse was very upset with herself.
All shifts, bed making, helping in the case room with deliveries, cleaning up the case room. Rinsing bloody sheets and washing walls. Taking out the babies every four hours. On nights, if they weren’t breast fed, we let the mothers sleep and would feed the babies in the nurseries ourselves.
On the night shift in the old hospital we were frequently invaded by mice. The hospital finally graduated to live mouse traps. This particular night, Barb Milholland, Anne Krawchuk, and I were on duty. There was a mouse caught in Ward 10, keeping the patients awake. We brought the live mouse trap out to the
service room between Wards 8 and 9 but we had to get rid of it and neither Ann nor I would touch it and were afraid it would get away. I went to the Case Room with a glass, got some ether and snuk it past Barb sitting at the Nursing Station and proceeded to pour it on the mouse in the trap. He finally went to sleep, then to Mousy Heaven, so we were able to dispose off him without getting caught or Betting it run loose again.
The big news!
Then came the news of a new hospital being built When it was built and completed, we moved in the summer of 1976 with excitement and anticipation. But it was with sadness that we watched the demolition of the old hospital. The new hospital was very nice but some of us felt that, along with the demolition of the old hospital, we also lost the personal touch and felt things weren’t quite the same with only having the wonderful memories left Along with modern advancement and disposable everything major changes happened, people became busier and rushed and it seemed like people don’t take the time for each other like we did back then.