Education and Care that Lighted the Way on Aging

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By Jane Marks

This year, our class of ’76 is celebrating its 40th reunion from Church Home and Hospital School of Nursing. It is hard to believe that it has been 40 years since we had our white caps placed upon our heads and we received our pin “ego servo.” We busted with pride that day and couldn’t help but think of our past three years studying and more studying, our clinical rotations, our dedicated faculty, our friendships, our supportive families, the laughter (our bus rides to UB), the tears, and most of all the education we received to prepare us as future nurses!  It was a day with mixed emotions because we were also the last class to graduate from Church Home and Hospital School  of Nursing, the end of a very special era!

From left, Jane Marks with a Church Home resident and mentor Helen Fowler.

I can’t help but think of the education and how it impacted my career. I stayed at Church Home after graduation and became more aware of our growing older population and its needs. I continued my education and focused on gerontological nursing, and for 30 years have incorporated many of the concepts I learned while at Church Home and Hospital (as a student and nurse) in caring for older adults in the community.

Church Home was ahead of its time in caring for the elderly. Where else did you see a “home” within a hospital setting? Church Home was unique in the very special care provided to the older residents. They lived on Barton 2, but not like residents you think of in a nursing home. Many volunteered at the hospital and stayed engaged. They became family to each other and to the staff.

After graduation, the home moved into the renovated nurse’s residence. I had the pleasure of sharing stories with the resident who moved into my old room.

I cannot help but think of our home care experience and our instructor, Ms. Fowler. Our white student caps were replaced with the blue home care caps, our white aprons came off as we made home visits in our blue uniforms carrying the little black home care bag. (Of course we had to remember to place a paper towel down before we set the bag down on any furniture!) We visited home-bound patients in the East Baltimore area. Many of these patients would have ended up in the hospital, emergency room, or nursing home had it not been for our student program and the guidance of Ms. Fowler.

I had the privilege of taking over the home care program for Ms. Fowler for a short time while I was working at Church Home. This was before it was Medicare-certified and many of the patients depended on the visits to coordinate their health and social needs. Today, many programs focus on keeping older adults in their communities and decreasing emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Church Home and Hospital saw early on the need to reach out to  care for the community’s older adults.

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