By Amy Guckeen Tolson, USAG RedstoneMay 19, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Dianne Wilson was only 8 years old when her love for the 1960s TV medical drama "Ben Casey" became a lifelong calling.
Under the tree that Christmas, she found a Ben Casey nurse's uniform, complete with a hat and navy blue cape. Donning the present, Wilson decided her vocation then and there.
"I've never wanted to be anything else," she said.
For the past 37 years, 26 and a half of which have been spent at Fox Army Health Center, Wilson has worked as a registered nurse, caring for the sick and inspiring all to live a lifetime of wellness. While technologies have changed since she began her career at 15 as a nursing assistant, and the field of nursing, as well as her job description along with it, the one thing that brings her to work every day has remained constant: the patients.
"There's a personal satisfaction you get from taking care of people and their gratitude," Wilson said.
That gratitude was celebrated May 6-12 as part of National Nurses Week, an annual celebration that coincides with Florence Nightingale's May 12 birthday, which recognizes nurses for the tremendous contributions they bring to the healthcare field. This year's theme, "Trusted to Care" rings especially true at Fox, where nurses aren't trusted to care for just any patient - they're trusted to care for the nation's Soldiers and families.
"I enjoy working with people who are sacrificing themselves for their country and making it possible for us to have what we have," Paula Lara, a Fox licensed practical nurse, said.
Janet Grise, an LPN in the Warrior Medical Clinic at Fox, gave the military a try herself, but quickly discovered it wasn't quite for her. Today, the nurse of 12 years wears a different uniform, still serving, only in a different way.
"I cannot imagine working with any other population than active duty," Grise said. "I love the fact that I can help a Soldier get better and go back to serving our country and protecting my freedom."
Approximately 60 nurses work at Fox, who celebrated the occasion with a kickoff walk, as well as a luncheon and giveaways throughout the week. Without those nurses, healthcare at Fox, as well as healthcare across the entire world, wouldn't be what it is today.
"We set the stage for whatever encounter you're going to have," Maj. Debra Murray, chief of preventive medicine, said of the role nurses play in patient care. "If we treat that person with dignity and respect and how you want to be treated, then that's how your visit is going to go."
The very fact that Fox commander Col. Elizabeth Johnson, is a nurse herself, speaks to the depth and breadth of the profession.
"It shows how versatile we are," Murray said. "Patient care is our main mission, but we're also leaders. We are encouraged by our chief of the Army Nurse Corps, Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho."
Horoho was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to be the 43rd Army Surgeon General, which would make her the first woman and the first nurse to hold the position in the Army's 236-year history. If confirmed, she would also serve as commander of the Army Medical Command.
"FAHC's nursing staff are professional, dedicated and committed to excellence," Col. Celethia Abner-Wise, deputy commander for nursing, said. "We are very proud to serve our Soldiers, families and the entire RSA community. Thank you all for your continued support."