Legacy Place hosts 1st Nightingale Ceremony

“There’s nothing like being in a room full of nurses. In a small community like this, we all know each other by where we work,” Tamie Gerntholz, nursing director at The Legacy Place, exclaimed.

The Legacy Place hosted the first annual Nightingale Nursing Ceremony, an event to honor nurses in Barnes County, on Tuesday. About 100 guests showed up to take part in the eventful evening.

Valley City’s newest assisted living facility was filled with delighted nurses, both active and retired, reacquainting and reminiscing with past co-workers, classmates, and friends.

For some, it was the the first time they had ever been honored as nurses. “We’re being recognized as to what we should’ve been many years ago,” said Linda Hesch, retired nurse. “We were behind the man getting all the credit.”

She and other retired nurses agreed that a lot has changed since they were active nurses. “There’s more publicity and recognition for nurses now,” said Joyce Hafner, former nurse. Hafner was in the last graduating class from Mercy School of Nursing in 1961.

The honorable ceremony got its name from a British nurse named Florence Nightingale, who is considered a pioneer nurse for her work tending to wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. May is the perfect month for this ceremony because National Nursing Day as well as Nightingale’s birthday are in May.

The ceremony was held as a collaboration between several local health care organizations: Mercy Hospital, Sheyenne Care Center, City-County Health Department, Dakota Nursing Program, The Legacy Place, Sanford Clinic and Essentia Clinic. These nursing entities joined together to plan the event.

“We just wanted to celebrate being a nurse,” said Alana Wendel, emergency room manager at Mercy Hospital, “Nursing is a legacy and very important for our community.”

“We are a working force,” explained retired nurse Avis Klinkhammer. Klinkhammer is a proud former nurse who has served Barnes County and lived in Valley City most of her life.

Retired and current nurses from Valley City and the surrounding area were invited to attend. Over 100 did. “We were surprised at the great turnout,” Gerntholz said.

“You don’t realize how many nurses there are until you get them all in a room together,” said Klinkhammer.

“I’m excited to see all the nurses and to see The Legacy Place for the first time,” Sheyenne Care Center LPN Bonnie Fretheim said, anxiously awaiting the evening. Fretheim was in the first graduating class of the new nursing program offered at Valley City State University in collaboration with Dakota College at Bottineau.

The evening featured an array of events, including a social, a program honoring Nightingale, candle lighting ceremony, silent auction and a blessing of the nurses. All proceeds from the silent auction are going back into helping celebrate nursing in the future.

Adding to the fun, each nurse was told to bring a graduation picture, which were displayed on a board, giving nurses the opportunity to guess who’s who.

Because of the great turnout of the event, the Nightingale Nursing Ceremony will become an annual event, Gerntolz explained.

There are plans in the future to develop a Florence Nightingale Nursing Award to a deserving nurse in the community, Gerntholz said. More information will be available as plans progress.