Nurses Gather For Nursing School Reunion - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Nurses Gather For Nursing School Reunion

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BILLINGS -

The school closed a long time ago, but the nurses it trained over the decades gathered to celebrate what would be an important milestone for the school.

"Coming back here today, the first thing I did was get lost," said Harriet Crowley. She, along with up to an estimated 100 people, gathered at the St. Vincent Healthcare's campus in Downtown Billings for a reunion, and mark the former Saint Vincent's Nursing School's 100th anniversary.

Harriet graduated from the school in 1967. Back then, her name was Harriet Hale.

"Seem to me like we went through an awful lot of pre-admission testing, and then we were accepted and brought here," said Harriet "We were all very jacked. We all thought it was just gonna be, and it was a wonderful time!"

The school opened in 1903, and closed in 1972. During its almost seven decades in existence, the school was training ground for more than 1,000 nurses, and its students, at one point, formed the backbone of St. V's hospital staff.

"We work split shifts. We work seven (a.m.) to 11 (a.m.), then we go to have lunch, and then we go to class, and come back to work from three (p.m.) to seven (p.m.)," said Mary Ann Dugan. She graduated from the school in 1951.

Alumni present at the reunion say the world of health care was very different in their days.

"Our patients sometimes were with us a couple weeks, inpatient," said Harriet.

"We had to sterilize all of our needles, and hyposyinges and everything. We had the sterilizers that we put everything in," said Virginia Mandeville. She graduated with Mary Ann in 1951.

"We had to sharpen the needles that we inject people with!" said Mary Ann.

At one point in the 1950s, tuition was $100. For Harriet, the education she got at the nursing school was invaluable.

"We are not handmaidens of physicians. We are independent professionals, and most of us consider we want to be treated that way," said Harriet.

The reunion will continue on Saturday at the hospital's former student dorm, which is now the Marillac Auditorium.

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