Two long-time employees retire from hospital staff

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/5/99.

Meyer retires after 16 years as a nurse
Meyer Jeri Meyer, Paynesville, found that working in a small town hospital, a registered nurse becomes a jack of all trades.

Meyer recently retired after 16 years at the Paynesville Area Health Care System.

Meyer graduated from St. Mary's Nursing School in 1956. She worked in Rochester and Austin before moving to Paynesville.

"I worked nine years as the school nurse in Paynesville before starting at the hospital," Meyer said.

"When you work at a small hospital, you work all over and do whatever is necessary from helping deliver babies, to working with stroke patients," she added.

Meyer worked nights and said the emergency room is the scariest area to work as you don't know what comes in the back door.

Meyer enjoyed working as the school nurse when her children were small as it enabled her to be home when they were.

"Working in a small town hospital provides nurses the opportunity to provide more care with a personal touch," Meyer added.

Since 1956, Meyer said she has seen a lot of changes in the nursing profession. "The type of care and drugs have changed dramatically. Technology has enabled us to save more lives, especially in the cardiac care units. All the nurses at the Paynesville hospital have taken advanced cardiac care courses," she added. Meyer said another area experiencing a lot of changes is maternity. "The new birthing units, monitors, and ultra sounds let a doctor preview what might happen, instead of years ago hoping for the best," she added. "Today, they can even tell you what you're going to have before the baby is born."

Meyer felt people are more concerned with preventative medicine than ever before.

In her retirement, Meyer said she plans on keeping active with her sewing, crocheting, and knitting. She also plans on spending more time traveling and playing with her seven grandchildren.

Liestman has been nurses aide for 16 years
liestman Pat Liestman, Paynesville, marked a milestone in her life last week as her co-workers helped celebrate her retirement after working at the hospital 25 years.

Liestman started work at the Paynesville Area Health Care System in the laundry room. She worked their four years before changing job descriptions.

In 1955 she started nurses training in the Twin Cities, but after four months she met Art and they were married.

"By working in the laundry room, I had my foot in the door at the hospital and had the opportunity of changing jobs when an opening occurred," Liestman said. Liestman said the staff taught her what she needed to know. In the 1970s, she also completed a nursing assistant course at the Willmar Community College. All nursing assistants needed to be certified.

Duties of a nursing assistant included giving baths to patients at the hospital, taking vital signs, feeding patients when necessary, and helping where needed.

With her husband Art working for the highway department, Pat never had to worry about getting to work during a snowstorm.

"There was many a night I was up at 4 a.m., clearing the snow from the driveway so Pat could go to work," Art said. Sometimes when Art was out working, he would pick her up and give her a ride to the hospital.

"It is really fun to work at the hospital," Liestman said. "You get to know your patients and care for your friends."

She added that in a smaller hospital, like Paynesville, patients can get more personalized care. "When you meet your patients in the stores, they always greet you with a smile and small talk," Liestman said. "A few patients have even sent her thank you cards after they were discharged."

"What is hardest on nurses and nurses aides is when you have to take care of a relative who is dying in the hospital," Liestman said. "A nurse or aide can request to be transferred off the case in such situations."

Liestman said she has worked every shift at one time and found the night shift the most interesting. "The day shifts are usually the busiest, but at night it seems is when most of the accident and emergency cases arrive. "I helped with some bad ones," she added.

Liestmans had seven children. The four older girls often watched the younger ones while Pat worked.

In her retirement, she plans on taking a trip with her sister-in-law to visit relatives on the West Coast. "I like to travel," she added.

Liestman also plans on doing more volunteer work in the community and working as a substitute aide at the hospital when they need extra help.

Among her hobbies is baking, and the staff at the hospital will miss the rolls, cakes, and cookies she would bring to the nurse's station for breaks.

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