National Nurses Week begins every year on May 6 and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12.
This past year and a half – perhaps more than ever – worldwide attention has turned to the impact nurses have on healthcare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses played a vital role in caring for critically ill patients during a devastating global health crisis.
Fittingly, last year was the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth was recognized as well. The American Nurses Association and the World Health Organization have appropriately extended the Year of the Nurse and Midwife into 2021. The International Council of Nurses, representing 27 million nurses worldwide, designated as the theme for the celebration: “Nurses: A Voice to Lead -- A Vision for Future Healthcare.” The theme is meant to focus awareness on the need for nurses to become more active in policy development and implementation.
At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we will honor and celebrate our more than 150 nurses who help keep our community healthy. While we have some very new nurses in our ranks, we also have a trusted cadre of long-serving nurses across many departments – emergency, perioperative, medical-surgical, infection control, clinical informatics, case management, and more. In OB, some of our longest-employed nurses are working with nurses whom they helped deliver. These nurses have served as mentors and educators, leaving a legacy that will live far into the future.
The top 10 longest employed nurses have given LVMC and the Lompoc Valley Community a collected 300-plus years of service.
Here are remembrances of a few:
In 1978, I had enough credits to graduate early from high school. I told my mother my plans to graduate early and she said “No.” She suggested I apply to Allan Hancock College and enroll in the Certified Nursing Assistant Program (CNA) to see if nursing was a career I wanted to pursue. I wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl.
At the time it was not common for a high school student to be accepted into the program. But with the help of two very dedicated RNs, Rose Tyler and Trish Jordan, I got into the program. I loved it! The extreme joys, satisfaction, and yes sometimes pain, left me totally fulfilled, and my desire to become an RN ensued.
I graduated from the CNA program and started working at the Comprehensive Care Center and then Lompoc Hospital in 1978 as a CNA while attending AHC for my nursing prerequisites. I got accepted to Los Angeles County School of Nursing in Los Angeles in 1982. I graduated in 1984. I started working at Lompoc Hospital in January 1984. I have worked the medical-surgical floor, ER and then in 1988, I found my passion in the operating room.
I knew I wanted to be an OB nurse as a sophomore in high school, in Mr. Stillman’s biology class. I was so intrigued by conception, gestation, and childbirth.
My first nursing experience was as a volunteer “candy-striper” at the Samarkand nursing home in Santa Barbara. I wore a blue and white pin-striped dress and helped as a feeder at dinnertime.
I started at Lompoc Hospital District on Jan. 27, 1983, as an LVN on the medical-surgical floor. I quickly transferred to the newborn nursery, then the post-partum area after continuing my education. I got my RN at Allan Hancock College and began the best part of my career as a Labor and Delivery nurse.
The very best part of my job is to help a scared, laboring mom to deliver a baby, to be part of this new life. It still fills me with wonder and awe. As an OB nurse, I also taught childbirth classes, attended the VAFB Baby Launch events, and taught classes at the Pregnancy Support Center.
As I ponder about my career at LVMC, I realize I have really been around the block!
In 1977, I went to Cal Poly SLO as a computer science major. After 12 months there, I realized computers were not for me. Ironically, now I teach new staff how to use our Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. My parents would pay for two years of college and time was running out, so I applied for the CNA program at Cuesta College. While my mother Dolores Herigstad was an OB nurse, I never really considered going into nursing.
I started at “Lompoc District Hospital” in December of 1978 as a CNA on Med/Surg, night shift. I have fond memories of that time in my life. I found that I really enjoyed trying to make sick people feel better. I don’t remember my first day of work, but I do remember my mother (RN), my youngest sister Karen (CNA), and myself (LVN) worked a shift in OB together.My mother worked for Lompoc hospital from around 1968 to 1994. My sister worked as a CNA from 1983-86. I also have a niece, Holly Clement, who is an RN working in case of management in San Luis Obispo.
Allan Hancock did not have a nursing program in the early 1980’s so I enrolled in the Vocational Nurse program, graduating in 1982. I worked as an LVN in PAC-U, ED, CCU, Med/Surg then OB. After five years as an LVN, I entered the nursing program at Cuesta College. I started my career as an RN in 1989 in OB, where I stayed until I moved to Clinical Informatics in March of 2017.
Nursing has changed so much in the past 30-something years but the people we help and the nurses we work alongside are the same, they just have different names. I am so grateful to have been able to work for this organization for so many years. I have grown up here and this place is home.
Some interesting numbers from my career:
- January 1981: CNA wage $4.83
- September 1982: LVN wage $6.89
- June 1989: RN wage $12.26
I was a stay-at-home mom of three. My kids had been hospitalized several times over the years. During those times, certain nurses stand out in my memory. They made my kids and myself feel safe and secure. They explained things thoroughly, were professional, and sincerely cared. When my family needed money, I decided to go to school to become a nurse and try to be like one of those nurses. I became an LVN at 36 years old.
I like making patients feel at ease. I enjoy finding the solution to a problem. I like making staff and patients smile.
The CCC was my first and only nursing job. I started in September 1995 off as a PM team leader LVN. After getting my RN, I also worked as the PM shift and then Day shift relief supervisor.
I am currently the Care Plan nurse and MDS (Minimal Data Set) coordinator.