Nurses from yesterday and today honored as part of National Nurses Week
In honor of National Nurses Week, Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center recently hosted a luncheon to pay tribute to the nurses who led the way and the hard-working nurses of today serving patients in the South Metro region.
Special guests included Alice Dahlen, R.N., Ph.D., the first Chief Nurse Officer of Legacy Meridian Park along with two of the hospital’s first nurses handpicked by Dahlen, Ester Appleman R.N., also known as “Ricky,” and Gladys Anderson R.N. All three worked from the day the hospital opened.
Dahlen started in March 1973 with Appleman and Anderson by her side in her journey to open a brand-new hospital. She says she was always praised for the great work she did while in her leadership role. Dahlen said she would try to branch out and seek other career opportunities, but was always encouraged to stay at the hospital and that she did because she was deeply invested, doing work that she loved while also making her community, patients and co-workers happy.
“My main goal at first was to operate the hospital solely based around primary care while focusing on patient needs and providing the best care possible,” Dahlen recalled. “Patient care was the center of everything and the hospital’s main mission.”
When Appleman first was hired, she didn’t know if she wanted to work a full-time job for a hospital, but soon fell in love with the work, staying for 16 years. Thinking back on the experience, she recalled one of her favorite memories, a time when there was an issue with the hot water at the hospital and she had to think quickly, filling huge grey containers with hot water for the nurses. Those moments are what she loved the most about her job. She explained, “You had to think on your toes a lot and it was sometimes challenging and exhausting, but the outcome was rewarding and fulfilling.”
Appleman since has been a patient at Legacy Meridian Park and was thrilled to see that the care delivery hasn’t changed and the focus remained on primary care, patients and encouraging nurses to continue their education. She was also surprised to learn that a lot of the current nurses at Legacy Meridian Park had expanded their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Anderson proudly reported she’d raised two daughters, both who followed in their mother’s footsteps in becoming nurses. One graduated from the school of nursing at Legacy Good Samaritan.
When asked if they would do it all over again, they all chimed in with excitement “Absolutely!” A lot of people doubted their success, especially other hospitals. They were told numerous times that they would never be able to survive with a R.N.-only staff, but they were determined to change the perspectives of patient care and to prove everyone wrong and it showed in the work that they did. They never had a nurse quit and there was always a waiting list of nurses waiting to get hired. Their nurses were the heart and soul of the operations. They always had great working conditions and respected everyone they worked with, not just the nurses. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something so heartfelt and rewarding?