I thought this was a nice article. Enjoy.
RN is an NR: 'Not retiring'
By Ron Wiggins, Palm Beach Post Staff Columnist
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Rosalie Morrissey, 73, of Atlantis, has been nursing for 50 years -- a half-century that she summarizes as follows:
"Been there, done that, and made it better."
Now I could note that she is fighting Bell's palsy, but that wouldn't be quite true. She defeated it on the first day. Three months ago, when she woke up to find half her face trying to slide to the floor, she guessed the problem: a viral infection that attacks nerve bundles in the face.
"That looks like Bell's palsy," she thought, and went to work at Boynton Health Care, a nursing home where she is responsible for about 20 patients on her shift.
"The girls at work and Staying Alive, where I work out, were terrific. They were so supportive and treated me as if nothing had happened."
Something had happened, and as the months pass, the symptoms have subsided but not disappeared. Her smile is still a bit lopsided, and she has difficulty closing one eye. She has not missed work and refuses to slow down.
Indeed, Morrissey operates at two speeds: on and off. The off button works only when her head hits the pillow.
"I thank God for my health and energy," she said. "I don't have time for doctors' waiting rooms."
She is vice president and historian for the District 40 Florida Nurses' Association; a historian for the Merry Widows, a social club; an active member of her garden club and church choir; and an amateur photographer.
She frequently celebrates her 15-year significant-othership with community college professor William Wilson by taking trips abroad.
Morrissey readily admits that she could have retired years ago and stayed plenty busy lap-swimming, doubling up on her Pilates courses and gardening herself into a moist, fertile pulp. But she hasn't. And won't.
"I need to be useful. I knew that 50 years ago."
Rosalie Alvaroe grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. In the late '40s and early '50s, nursing was an obvious profession for women, and in Rosalie's case, a natural. You helped people and knew those you were helping. After nurses training, of course.
"My dad, a builder, wintered in South Florida, and in 1949 I enrolled in what was then Palm Beach Junior College at Morrison Field and studied nursing for three years at Good Sam Hospital."
In 1953 she was "capped," graduated as a registered nurse.
She returned to Detroit, where she worked at Ford Hospital during the horrors of the polio epidemics. Wards were full of children in excruciating pain from the crippling virus.
"We had to take spinal fluid to test for the virus, and I remember the children would curl up and we would hold them in a little ball during the tap. My specialty was giving shots so quickly that the children hardly noticed. They asked for me."
In 1957, Rosalie married John R. Morrissey, a comptroller, and in 1973 they moved to Palm Beach County, where her nursing career continued. They had two sons. Today, Joseph, 40, is a microbiologist, and John, 35, is a lawyer. Her husband died in 1985.
During her 30-year career in Palm Beach County, Rosalie has worked 16 years as a med-surgical and post-op nurse for Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach; three years in that specialty for JFK Medical Center in Atlantis; and 10 years teaching night courses for certified nursing assistants and home health aides for MEGA Nursing Agency. She has 10 years in geriatric nursing with Boynton Health Care.
The changes she's seen:
"When I trained, everything was white and porcelain. Walls were white, doctors wore white, we wore white nurse caps, white skirts, white oxford shoes and white stockings."
Morrissey says dates are hard to pin down, but green scrubs
came in around the '60s, pastels and flowered prints in the '80s.
Stockings, dresses and sensible shoes started giving way in the '70s as pants and athletic shoes made the physical side of nursing easier for health care workers.
"I hung on to my nurse's cap as long as possible," she laughs. "I loved my cap."
Syringes were not only reusable, they had to be sharpened. "We actually rubbed them on a whetstone when we were in training," Morrissey recalls.
Much time and many steps are saved by unit doses (pre-counted pills) and automated IV pumps. "Thirty and 40 years ago we counted out pills and calibrated the drips manually."
Today, sterile packs rule, with fewer instruments going into the autoclave steam sterilizer. In the old days, nurses spent a lot of time washing and sterilizing instruments. Gloves were reusable and had to be powdered. Today, surgical gloves are used once and tossed like tissues.
In many ways, nursing is easier today, Morrissey concedes.
That's the good news. The bad news is that, with efficiencies, nurses are spread thinner. Nobody has proposed putting them on in-line skates, but that could come. Morrissey hopes the trend will stop short of having every patient on a conveyor belt with a bar code on his or her forehead.
"Every patient needs a nurse," she declared.
And, she believes, everybody needs a religion, and if you're shopping, she has one recommended by her childhood hero, Dr. Albert Schweitzer: "He said the best religion in the world is human service."