Nursing career brought many adventures

Doreen (Stone) McFarlane, one of four children was born in Vermillion, Alta in 1933. She was raised on a farm and attended the local country school then completed Grade 12 in Vermillion.

After high school, she took the three-year nurses training program at the Royal Alexander Hospital in Edmonton. She first worked as a general duty nurse in small hospitals throughout Alberta.

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She was surprised to receive a phone call with an offer of a job in Alert Bay which is on Cormorant Island just beyond the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Unbeknownst to her, the only means of transportation to the island at the time was by boat. Doreen said, “Alert Bay was small and isolated, and when I finally arrived - seasick and tired - at the old military hospital, it was a bit of a shock. Regardless, I received a good education in more ways than one. It was quite the experience to say the least.”

In 1959, she started her operating room nursing career in Lloydminster,Sask.

She got married in 1960 and separated in 1974. Doreen raised their two children Roxanne and Colleen on her own. She now has six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

In 1964, the family moved to Vancouver. Doreen worked at the Burnaby General Hospital in the emergency department and the operating room; then on to Nanaimo for work in the operating room there.

The family arrived in Prince George in 1969 and Doreen worked as a casual in the operating room at the Prince George Regional Hospital.

She was offered a job with straight days at the office of Dr. Dahlstrom and she took it.  She enjoyed the work and the interaction with all the people.

Doreen said, “In the mid 70’s, our hospital was already on the cutting edge which means that they had the latest and greatest equipment. I was invited to take part in setting up the first ambulatory care unit and outpatient department which was designed to relieve the emergency and operating rooms of minor surgeries. I was more than pleased to take this on and I became the first outpatient head nurse.  

“New programs expanded the unit to include chemotherapy treatment. I took my training at the B.C. cancer hospital in Vancouver to become the first oncology nurse in Prince George.  This was useful when in 2016 I participated in a carcinoid cancer research program at the Cross Cancer Institutein Edmonton.

“The number of patients needing cancer treatment increased and we had to move to a larger area on the third floor of the hospital. We did not have a budget for furniture but Dr. Ewert and I found what we needed in the education wing so we just ‘borrowed’ what we needed.

“In the early 80’, I became a member of the hospital expansion planning committee to expand the emergency and the ambulatory departments.” 

New equipment was purchased for urodynamic studies and Doreen was sent to Galveston, Texas, to be trained to educate the staff in the operation ofthis equipment.

She was the co-ordinator for the first Admitting, Discharge and Transfer (ADT) computer installation at the hospital even though she protested that she did not know anything about computers.  Following this project, she was appointed to the position of head nurse in the operating room and the day care surgery unit.

Four years later and along with other head nurses from the Vancouver hospital she was part of the team to make decisions in regards to purchasing the newest disposable drapes foroperating rooms.

She was part of many interesting hospital teams and projects that are just too numerous to list here in this column. Doreen retired at the age of 63. 

She has been a member of the Prince George Golf and Curling Club for many years and still golfs once a week with her golfing pals.  She has enjoyed international travel over the years including a nursing mission trip to Bolivia in 2002.

In 1995, she started the ongoing breakfast club for all the PGRH retirees, including a yearly Christmas celebration.

Her volunteer work over the years included being a volunteer representative for the BC Nurses Union and serving as secretary for 20 years for the White Cane group affiliated with the CanadianCouncil of the Blind.

Doreen said, “I was an active member of First Baptist Church and the Artist’s Co-op until this Covid-19 thing came along.  Now I am just trying - like everyoneelse - to wait it out.

“During my career I met many great people and I made long-lasting friendships along the way.  I have been very blessed with good friends and a great family who are always there to supportme when I need them.”

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