Retired nurses gather monthly to swap stories and offer support

Catching up and having a good time doing it are retired Meridian Park nurses (from left) Mary Ann Casey, Cherie Hancock-Jordan, Connie Jackle, Linda Olsrud, Leone Forseth, Lolly and Scott Peavy, Shari's waitress Terri, Pam Woltze, Polly Smith and Connie Kelty.

Nurses – four ladies

The laughs never stop when this group gets together: From left are Linda Abercrombie, Mary Ann Casey, Cherie Jordan and Connie Jackle.

Nurses – seven at table

Sharing photos is part of the fun of the monthly reunions for (from left) Leone Forseth, Lolly and Scott Peavy, Chris Lang, Pam Woltze, Linda Abercrombie and Leanne Duckering.If someone is going to have a medical emergency, the place and time to do it is Shari’s restaurant in Sherwood on the second Monday morning of each month.

That is when up to two dozen retired nurses from Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin get together for a monthly reunion.

The group gathers in a corner of Shari’s where several tables and booths are available, and as the nurses walk in, there are lots of hugs and exclamations of surprise as old friends encounter each other and catch up.

“There are usually at least 10 to 12 of us but many times as many as 25,” said Ann Dresser, a Sherwood resident who first worked in orthopedics and then was a nursing supervisor.

“It is a wonderful way for us all to keep in touch, share stories, continue friendships, make new friendships that we didn’t have time for before, laugh and (share) camaraderie, which I feel is so important,” she said. “Many of us are nurses, but there are also people from other areas of the hospital too, and usually some spouses.”

She added that the support they give each other is an important part of the get-togethers, noting, “I wanted my 40-plus year nursing career to be sincere and meaningful, and this group helps.”

Members of the group also get together outside of the monthly breakfasts as several of them are in two different quilting groups, another plays with the Old Time Fiddlers, and three or four are in a book club. One woman knits hats for homeless people, and another knits dog beds for a humane society.

Others continue to utilize their nursing skills, serving with humanitarian groups such as World Vision and Medical Teams International.

Dresser explained that the group started informally about 2 1/2 years ago after she and another nurse, Leanne Duckering, nurse started meeting at Shari’s in Tualatin once a month.

Duckering of Sherwood worked as a nurse for 30 years, noting, “I love anything I can do with my friends from Meridian Park that I have known for 28 years.”

Dresser, who retired four years ago, added, “We kept inviting people, and more kept coming. It feels so good to get together with friends.”

After a few months, they switched to the Sherwood Shari’s and have been going there ever since.

Sitting at Dresser’s table at Shari’s was Dianne Shamburg of Lafayette, who worked mainly in orthopedics and said, “It is so good to keep connected. So many people lose touch with each other when they stop working.”

As they were talking, Rick Holm of Vancouver came by to show some photos he had taken, and Dresser quipped, “Rick is our photographer. We don’t like him, but he takes good pictures!”

Holm, who was a nurse for 37 years, said, “I truly enjoy the camaraderie and friendships I’ve developed over the years.”

Shamburg noted that “when we worked, we had to have our hair pulled back and wear uniforms, so it’s nice to see each other in street clothes.”by: GAZETTE PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Sharing photos is part of the fun of the monthly reunions for (from left) Leone Forseth, Lolly and Scott Peavy, Chris Lang, Pam Woltze, Linda Abercrombie and Leanne Duckering.

She added, “We were in a lot of different departments, but most of us were on the same floor.”

Many of the nurses in the group worked for more than 40 years, including Linda Olsrud of Milwaukie, who worked in short stay for 45 years; Connie Jackle of Milwaukie, who worked 48 years in orthopedic surgery and pre-admission teaching; and Connie Kelty of Aloha, who worked 41 years in critical care and said she likes seeing her former “workmates” from the hospital at the breakfasts.

Olsrud added, “I like seeing different people each time and finding out what people are up to.”

Polly Smith of Milwaukie worked for 47 years in the 3C medical unit and loves catching up on the news with everyone and “seeing people we haven’t seen in years.”

Christine Lang of Woodburn floated among departments and was a supervisor for a total of 40 years, with 30 of them at Meridian Park, while Jan Pence of Lake Oswego worked as a nurse for 35 years, with 14 of them at Meridian Park.

Leone Forseth of Lake Oswego worked for 21 years in surgery, and Scott Peavy was a nursing supervisor for 35 years at LMPMC who said that reconnecting with old friends “keeps the barnacles from growing on my brain.”

Linda Abercrombie of King City, who worked in oncology and computer education for 44 years, with 28 of them at Meridian Park, said she enjoys “visiting with old friends and new friends” and added that they always have a great waitress.

Pamela Woltze of Beaverton worked in the short stay unit for 35 years at Meridian Park plus another nine years elsewhere.

Others attending were Mary Skillman of Dundee, Delores Schneider of Tigard, Margie Schafer of Wilsonville, Beth Tarbet of Beaverton, and Annette Moreau of Tualatin, who worked in orthopedics and short stay for a total of 21 years, and said, “I love seeing people I haven’t seen for a while, catching up and talking about old times. These are great people!”

Helen Young of Beaverton, who worked in surgery and the pre-admissions office for 12 years, said, “Meridian Park was the best place I’ve ever worked.”

Cheri Jordan of Tigard, who worked more than 30 years in a variety of areas, including pre-admission, surgery, oncology and managing occupational medicine clinics, said she likes catching up with old friends’ lives and staying in touch.

Carol Koenig of Portland, who worked in critical care for 20 years, said she likes to come to Shari’s to find people with similar hobbies and interests.

Harold Warner of Tigard worked at Meridian Park for 15 years floating around different units. He said that what he liked about his job was working with complicated cases and “seeing the results of patients getting well and discharged.”

Kathy Royce of West Linn was a medical surgical nurse in many different units and a house supervisor, with 32 of her 33 years spent at LMPMC.

Dresser noted of Shari’s, “We are always treated with such kindness and patience, and have gotten to know some of the staff. Maybe this will be so popular that we could turn it into a reality show.

“And we need a name for ourselves. All I could think of was the Bed Pan Clan, but it should be more dignified.”

But Kelty came up with a more “dignified” name, “The Beat Goes on Breakfast Club.”

The laughs never stop when this group gets together:  Linda Abercrombie, Mary Ann Casey, Cherie Jordan and Connie Jackle.

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