Nurses recall memories of old residence
ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Retired nurses of the old nursing residences and Coaldale hospital met recently at the Beacon Diner in Hometown to recollect their memories of long ago. Pictured from front left are Nancy Nunemacher, Marilyn Felsoci and Megan Reichelderfer. From back left are Jean Linkhorst and Marge Unitis.
"I have many memories of the nurses' residence," said retired nurse Marilyn Felsoci, during a retired nurses' lunch social held recently in Hometown. "It was the first place I worked."
During the social, Felsoci and other retired Coaldale nurses talked about their memories of the nurses' residence, also referred by some of the nurses as "nursing home."
They added that two floors of the building were for medical-surgery patients, while the third floor offered a multitude of various uses, to include temporary physicians' quarters. The basement was used for nursing and other classes, as well as meeting areas.
"When I started, the hospital only had wards, so we used the nursing residence for everything else," added Felsoci.
"On the first floor, there was a beautiful living room where the hospital board used to meet. It included a lovely porch where the nurses used to sit at their breaks or lunch times when the weather was nice."
"We (nurses) would leave the hospital and go to the residence to enjoy our lunch break," added Megan Reichelderfer, who served as a Coaldale nurse from 1955-57 and 1979-92.
"We used the large semicircle parlor (located at the southernmost part of the building) for our breaks. It was extremely gorgeous."
Felsoci recalled seeing the French doors that lead to the parlor.
They added that many of the operations at the residence where eventually moved into the new hospital in 1973.
"There were still about 20 nurses living in the residence when I left in 1956," said Reichelderfer, a Coaldale native now living in Lake Hauto.
"Sometimes doctors on call would have to sleep at the residence."
The nurses added that nurses from all over were trained in this building, which also served primarily as a nursing training school.
"In those days, we really did nursing care," stressed Felsoci, who served as a Coaldale nurse from 1960-96. "Everybody liked working over there (nurses' residence).
"Years ago, nurses weren't really allowed to get married as they worked long hours, were only given a few hours off and usually lived at the hospital," stressed Felsoci. "Despite this, the entire medical community treated each other like family."
The nurses recalled being known throughout the state for their dedication to their job and level of quality provided at the hospital.
"Even back then, Coaldale Hospital, which had 100 percent registered nurses, was rated number one," exclaimed Felsoci, who was also a patient at the nurses' residence to have gall bladder surgery.
"The care was excellent."
Some of the nurses mentioned that a temporary, portable hospital was always ready to be deployed if needed, adding that it included everything needed for a field emergency hospital.
"My main job was in the old hospital," said retired nurse Nancy Nunemacher, who served at the hospital from 1966-2004.
Four years of that time was served as night shift at the nurses' residence. "We had some good times," said Nunemacher. "All the patients and doctors were great."
"I remember receiving a sleeping pill," said retired nurse and Coaldale resident Marge Unitis, who also served as a patient in 1972. "That was different for a young person."
She served as a nurse at the hospital from 1979-2001.
"Everybody helped everybody," said retired nurse Jean Linkhorst, who started at the hospital in 1958. "If you needed help, you never hesitated to call and ask for help from your coworkers.
"We were a big family," exclaimed Linkhorst.