Nurses who know

Current and former nurses pose with the display of Houston Hospital surgical equipment, uniforms and memorabilia. The items will be on display at the Chickasaw County Museum for the next three months. (Photo Floyd Ingram)

Current and former nurses pose with the display of Houston Hospital surgical equipment, uniforms and memorabilia. The items will be on display at the Chickasaw County Museum for the next three months.
(Photo Floyd Ingram)

HOUSTON – Hospitals are the site of many noteworthy events from births to miraculous recoveries, but some of the stories can and some of the stories can’t be told.

The Chickasaw County Museum has collected a number of news stories and medical artifacts from the old Houston Hospital and put them on display for the next three months. The exhibit will be officially unveiled at the Flywheel Festival set for Sept. 27-28.
Current and former employees who worked at the medical facility will be at the exhibit to talk about the changes in medicine and tell some of the history of the Houston Hospital.
Neva Edwards was a surgery nurse for 24 years and worked the Emergency Room and walked the floor at Houston Hospital for more years than she wants to remember.
“It was 51 years total,” said Edwards. “I learned so much in the ER and in surgery and really felt I made a difference in people’s lives.”
Edwards is one of five nurses and medical professionals, including Sarah Dodd, Hazel Whitt, Ruth Alexander and Shirley Kendall who will help bring to life the instruments and artifacts on display through Christmas.
“I worked in the lab and we used these instruments every day,” said Whitt. “It was always a busy place and Dr. Dyer expected our work to be perfect. We never tried to do anything less.”
Whitt said she worked under June Kriger, a longtime fixture at the lab. She said they were a very close bunch and worked well together.
Alexander said she took a nursing diploma from Greenwood-Leflore Hospital and turned it into a 52-year career in nursing. She still works part-time in central supply.
“Today everything is disposable, but when I first started working you had to clean and sterilize everything,” she explained. “Houston Hospital had a reputation for being a very clean and professional place.”
Kendall spent 55-years and retired this year as a veteran LPN.
“I helped move patients over from the old hospital to the new hospital in 1957,” said Kendall. “I worked in surgery and in the ER. The work was very satisfying, but it could also break your heart.”
Dodd said she remembers the starched uniforms worn by nurses.
“We were always so proud to wear those uniforms,” said Dodd. “But the starch was so stiff it could actually rub a blister on your neck. You never noticed it while you worked because you were so focused. We would go home and put vaseline on it, maybe a dressing, and be back at work the next morning with a smile.”
All of the nurses talked of the long hours and the immense sense they got healing their community by helping people every day.
Jan Dyson, who worked in marketing at the local hospital, said putting on the display could not have happened without the effort of Trace Regional Medical Center.
“They were actually about to dispose of a lot of these instruments and these ladies found out and approached the museum,” said Dyson. “These instruments were used to help a lot of people and while the instruments can’t talk the nurses can.”
Dyson urged the community to come by the exhibit during the Flywheel Festival or call and set up a time to drop in and visit the museum at 304 Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park.

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