1962was a year of great memories. Marilyn Monroe sang happy birthday to President Kennedy. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth and the first Beatles single “Love Me Do” is released. 1962 was also the year that Linda Dewing Shoemaker became a nurse at Binghamton General.
Choosing her career was easy. Back then most women went into “nursing, teaching or secretarial”. And since Linda “always wanted to help people meet their needs and comfort, especially geriatrics” it was a clear path for her to enter the medical profession.
After receiving a nursing degree from the Binghamton School of Practical Nursing she began her professional career in patient care and meds at Binghamton General’s ICU. She later switched to private duty when raising her small children and then in 1971 she started at Elizabeth Church as a Staff Nurse and later as an evening supervisor at St. Louise Manor on Front St for her last 8 years.
In 2014 after 52 years of service Linda retired.
Throughout those years she saw a lot of change. One change was that “25 years ago you wore a white dress, white cap, and white clinic shoes. Then after that, no cap, sneakers, and scrub uniforms” said Linda. Also “When I first started it seemed you had more time with your patient, more one-on-one with the patient. Computerized medical records started in the last few years of my career, and before it was charts”. When asked what she thinks has remained common over the years Linda said “The need of the patient to have a good, observant, caring, and passionate nurse. Nurses always had to work every other weekend, holidays, and change shifts back and forth. It has never been a M-F, 9-5 job.”
In fact, it is the long hours and the changing shifts that reminds Linda of a story that shows the love and compassion nurses have for their patients. Linda said “40 years ago, I would play the piano and all the other nurses would gather around with the patients and sing. One patient, Gertie, loved the “Shower of Blessings” and “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” Gertie said to all the nurses, that when she dies, she wants the nurses to sing the songs at her funeral”. When that day came, we were all in our white uniforms, driving over to the funeral practicing the songs, with all the windows down, when we were suddenly pulled over by the police. The police officer said, “do you realize you drove through three reds lights?” One of the nurses, Rozanne, said: “All we know is we need to be at a funeral on time.” We got to the funeral home and we sang the songs and we left there feeling so good that we kept our promise to her. We cared deeply for our patients. To this day, when I run into family members, they still express their appreciation”.
Linda is a lifelong resident of Binghamton. She and her husband have been married 55 years. Thank you Linda for your service as a nurse and for making this area a great place to live.