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Salute to nurses

Heroes of health care gather at Eagle’s Trace

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July 31st, 2017
Registered professional nurses who live at Eagle’s Trace have  dinner together twice a year.

Registered professional nurses who live at Eagle’s Trace have dinner together twice a year.

Florence Nightingale would find a host of kindred spirits at Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston.

Twice a year, the nearly 40 registered professional nurses who live at Eagle’s Trace meet for dinner to swap stories and honor their chosen profession.

Their most recent gathering, during National Nurses Week in May, saw a room full of registered nurses, all with unique backgrounds and paths that have converged at Eagle’s Trace.

“Everyone’s got a story,” says Betty Finkelman, who organized the May dinner. “We talk about our training and the things we experienced during our careers.”

Betty earned her four-year nursing degree from the University of Houston, then went on to work as an emergency room nurse at the old Hermann Hospital, now Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

“Nursing has evolved since I graduated from nursing school,” says Betty. “We used to do a little bit of everything. Now there are more specialties for nurses.”

A daughter’s tribute

Irene Rapp was the honored guest at the May gathering of nurses. Irene’s daughter, Mary Rapp, attended the dinner with her mother and spoke after the meal.

“My mom worked for a general practitioner, Dr. William Frank Cole, when I was growing up,” says Mary. “Dr. Cole’s office was in Meyerland Plaza, and he did it all—delivered babies, took out tonsils and adenoids. My mom was his right hand. She was there in the middle of the action.”

Mary recalled her mother’s tools of the trade: an autoclave for sterilizing instruments and a set of glass syringes wrapped up in a special cloth.

“This was back in the days when doctors made house calls, and most of West Houston was home to rice farmers and dairy farmers,” says Mary. “It wasn’t unusual for patients to give a basket of veggies or eggs as credit toward their bill.”

Mary followed in her mother’s footsteps and currently works as a surgical nurse at Memorial Hermann. 

“I learned a few of my best tricks from my mother,” says Mary. “Right before she’d give you an injection, she’d give you a gentle slap on the injection site. You’d feel the slap, but not the prick of the needle. I still use that technique today.”

Care and compassion

Like Irene, many of the nurses who now live at Eagle’s Trace didn’t take off their nurse’s cap when they got home.

“Mom was a consultant to the people in our neighborhood, church, school,” says Mary. “It was always part of her life. She wasn’t just a nurse for medical needs. She was a nurse for people’s hearts. I think that’s what stands out the most, how she cared for other people.”

As Mary talked of her mother’s old-fashioned remedies, other nurses in the room nodded in agreement, recalling ichthammol as a drawing salve useful for bringing splinters to the surface, and gentian violet as an antiseptic dye used to treat fungal infections.

Irene wasn’t the only Eagle’s Trace nurse with her daughter in attendance at the dinner. Joy McMillin’s daughter, Andrea Keith, was also present. Joy’s family line includes three generations of nurses—Joy, Andrea, and Andrea’s daughter, Marissa Owen. 

“My mother inspired me,” says Andrea. “Nursing is a great legacy to pass down.”

Choosing a healthy lifestyle

For some, this was their first time attending a gathering of nurses at the West Houston community.

“We have five nurses who have moved to Eagle’s Trace since our last get-together,” says Betty Finkelman. “Four of them live in Amarillo Terrace, the new residence building that opened last fall.”

Betty Moreland and Ruth Chafer are two nurses new to the community. 

“There’s a bond with other nurses,” says Betty. “It’s an instant connection. In talking with the other nurses who live here, I realized that we’re all forward-thinkers. We want what’s best for other people.”

Ruth’s impression was a group of nurses who’ve taken their own advice. 

“We’re a healthy bunch,” she says. “I think it says something that we’ve all chosen to move to Eagle’s Trace where we have the resources we need to continue to live healthy lives.”

The amenities at Eagle’s Trace include an on-site medical center with full-time doctors specializing in geriatric medicine and a fully equipped fitness center and indoor swimming pool, both just steps away from residents’ apartments.

Still working, but with the perks of retirement living

Carol Loggins, another nurse new to Eagle’s Trace, moved to the community in February 2017. Carol works three days a week for Chevron in its medical clinic for travel health in downtown Houston.

“Chevron has many employees who travel for work, so we give immunizations, malaria medications, that sort of thing,” says Carol, who graduated from nursing school at Case Western Reserve University in 1965. “Even though I retired from full-time nursing in 1999, I’m grateful for this opportunity.”

When Carol moved to Eagle’s Trace, she discovered the Addicks Park and Ride just up the road. She takes the bus to and from work, free of charge since she’s over 70, and enjoys the benefits of living at Eagle’s Trace when she gets home.

“After work, I don’t have to cook,” says Carol. “I come back to Eagle’s Trace and enjoy a meal and good company. It works out very well.”

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