By Darlene Schrantz
My hospital sits on a well-traveled country road in rural Erie County. It draws patients from Arcade to Gowanda and everywhere in between. They visit to get healthy, to stay healthy and to heal what ails them.
I call Bertrand Chaffee Hospital “my hospital” with good reason. I started my first and only nursing job there 45 years ago and spent my entire career caring for patients as a nurse and leading the nursing staff as a manager.
Before I retired in March, I clocked in tens of thousands of hours at the “Gem on the Hill” that became my home away from home.
My husband was a teacher during the day, and I worked many evening and overnight shifts as we raised our children, Matt and Susan.
Matt has a special connection to Bertrand Chaffee, because he was the first patient transported by Mercy Flight to Springville when he was an infant. On that occasion, I was able to be its first flight nurse, as well!
I saw so many changes as a nurse on the front lines of health care. We watched as technology made equipment smaller, faster and more accurate. Computers changed the way we interacted with patient charts and with each other. Inpatient stays became shorter. Advances were made in medications and treatments. And being in the maternity unit, I eventually saw women who had been born at Bertrand Chaffee having children of their own.
I can also say what didn’t change. A nurse’s best tools are the ones he or she is born with. Eyes can monitor a patient’s condition. Ears can hear what patients and family members are saying. And a simple touch can let patients know that they are in good hands. That’s the advice I brought with me when I started nursing, and that’s what I tell anyone looking to work in the health care field.
Words weren’t enough to express how delighted I was to learn that my hospital received an $11.3 million award from New York State to invest in imaging equipment and space for primary care. To me, that was confirmation after a lifetime of work that my hospital has the tools and the team to keep my community healthy.
The funding that New York State is providing for my hospital’s future is incredible. But it would not have happened without careful planning. Under the leadership of CEO Nils Gunnersen, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital looked at the future of health care and saw some challenging times ahead.
With input from doctors, nurses and patients, my hospital made a series of investments that established primary care and cardiology services. Those decisions transformed our small hospital into the central venue for health care that it is today.
I take a long walk down Main Street and through the Village of Springville nearly every morning. Each time, I am virtually guaranteed to see someone I know who has been cared for at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital. That’s the strength of my hospital. That’s the purpose of my hospital. And that’s the future of my hospital.
I like to tell people that if I were born a thousand times, I’d always want to be a nurse. I’m still a nurse, and I’ll always be a nurse.
I am enjoying life now with a focus on being a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a friend.
When my neighbors need health care, I know my hospital is there for them. And I know that my husband and I can depend on it for our medical needs as we enjoy a long and well-deserved retirement.