October 26, 2014

Hospital retiree reflects on 45 years of service

By Lauren Begley
Staff Writer | reporter@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH — St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital recently honored the retirement of Ruth Ann Konwinski and Sharon Walker, who each spent over 30 years as employees at the hospital.

Walker was treated to a retirement luncheon in December after 31 years of service. According to a press release from St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital, she began working for the hospital as a receptionist in the Admitting Department, but she moved to the Purchasing Department after two years. In 1998, she became the Purchasing Manager.

Konwinski was honored with a luncheon on Friday, Jan. 22. She was part of the hospital for 45 years as a registered nurse, and she worked with patients in the Acute Care Department, according to the Standish Hospital press release.

Konwinski said she was part of the hospital when it moved from its original place on Front Street to its current location. She notes the move as one of her memorable moments as part of the hospital.

The transition to the new location was planned to happen after 9 a.m., but she had a patient in labor at the old location, Konwinski said.

All of the OB equipment had already been moved, and Konwinski had to move the patient to the new hospital in the middle of the night, she said.

“I was there with the first patient,” she said. She also said she was a part of the very first delivery at the new location.

Konwinski said she was also working at the hospital during the big snowstorm in the late ‘70s. She said the snow had reached the level of the patients’ windows, and the very small staff managed to get through a couple days straight at the hospital by taking short shifts of two to three hours of sleeping.

Konwinski said that she remembers watching many young women come into the hospital and work their way up from an LPN to an RN and beyond.

“I was touched by many, many lives,” Konwinski said.

Konwinski said she was also present to watch the hospital evolve. She said she has seen many improvements as well as changes in technology.

As a new graduate from her nursing diploma program, Konwinski said she was working with iron lungs. Now, she’s leaving the hospital with experience in working with the operating room, labor and delivery, skilled nursing, pediatrics, and acute care, Konwinski said.

The diploma program she went through is also a sign of the changes that have taken place since her graduation. When she was training to be a nurse, she said there were no associate’s degrees for it. Most nurses went through diploma programs, and the University of Michigan was one of the only schools in the state that offered a bachelor’s degree in nursing, she said.

Konwinski said she will be 72 years old in May, and she said that her age and the ever-increasing use of computers were two factors that eventually led to her decision to retire.

“I liked it there,” Konwinsi said. “There are a lot of memories.”

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