A graduate of the PEI Hospital’s class of 1968, Mary McDougall, RN attended her 45th reunion last fall – a momentous occasion she had the pleasure of celebrating with 19 of her nursing classmates. The majority of her colleagues are now retired with some still being called back to work casual shifts. But Mary, who says she is nearing her retirement, is still working 4 days a week as an RN Supervisor at Colville Manor in Souris, the position she has held for the past 38 years.
“We RNs can’t say ‘no’”, she says with a chuckle. “It’s just our nature. When we’re called upon to do a job, we step up and help.”
For Mary, being a Registered Nurse in a Long Term Care facility is a role that has always proved very fulfilling and rewarding, but has not been without its challenges as well. The role of the Registered Nurse in long term care has changed over the years. Currently Colville Manor houses 52 residents and 1 RN is responsible for the entire facility at any given time. Mary says the acuity level of most residents is very high and the nursing workload is much heavier compared to decades past. Residents are entering the facility with multiple conditions and most are unable to do daily tasks for themselves.
Despite the growing challenges, Mary’s love for the long term care environment has endured. Her first job in Pediatrics and Emergency lasted 7 years before moving to “the country” when a job opportunity became available at Colville Manor. Upon taking this position, she soon realized that she thoroughly enjoyed caring for the elderly.
“They have so many stories to tell!”, says Mary.
This self-assured lady with a warm smile and gentle demeanour wishes she could more easily stay on top of what’s going on with all residents at any given moment. The new Colville Manor, which opened in 2012 is a beautiful, spacious, bright and modern facility that is designed to make residents feel at home. There are 4 households with 13 residents in each. Everyone has their own private bedroom and washroom and every household has a kitchen, dining room, living room, fireplace and sunroom available to residents and family. The spacious design also means that caregivers have to do plenty of walking and residents must wait a little longer than before for a nurse or other healthcare provider to reach them. Mary says she is not opposed to change, but would prefer to see changes put in place that benefit the sick rather than make it more difficult for RNs to care for them. She wants to be “right there” with the residents, helping them in any way that she can and as soon as she can.
One of the positive aspects of the new manor in Souris is that it’s a place where the people all know each other and where the same supervisors have been in place for a number of years.
“I like working with everyone and we have almost become a family in a way. We can sit down and chat about politics and religion or whatever comes up. It’s very comforting to work in a small community where people know you.”
It must also be very comforting for the residents she cares for, knowing that Mary is kind, compassionate and respectful toward them. She is also very knowledgeable and strives to keep her expertise current. She recalls a time when computers were introduced into her every day work routine. Charting with paper and pen became a thing of the past and nurses had to adapt to the technology. She jokes that she and many of her colleagues thought they would have to retire because they felt the unfamiliar computer system was too difficult to learn. But, they stuck with it and did whatever was necessary to learn a different way of doing things until they felt comfortable with this new aspect of their work.
When she’s not taking care of the residents at Colville Manor, Mary enjoys riding her bike, quilting, staying active in the community and her church. She treasures time spent with her husband, daughter and 19-year-old grandson.