From the Cradle to the Grave: The Life and Times of a Community Health Nurse

Eastern Health’s Service and Retirement Awards Series

A bag of berries or salt fish.  A bit of moose, lamb or turr.  Sometimes, a box of chocolates.

Spontaneous expressions of thanks from grateful clients and patients, with a distinctly rural flavour!

The life of a community nurse in St. Lawrence is never dull – and you’ll never go hungry if your clients have anything to say about it!

AnnMarie Slaney, public health nurse, St. Lawrence

AnnMarie Slaney, public health nurse, St. Lawrence

This month, Eastern Health will give a service award to AnnMarie Slaney for her 25-year mark as a nurse – most of them spent as a community nurse in her hometown of St. Lawrence on the Burin Peninsula.

AnnMarie is celebrating too – maybe because those 25 years have sped by – in the way years do when you love going to work every day.

“It really doesn’t seem like a long time,” AnnMarie says. “I enjoy every single day – I never stop learning and I never get bored!”

Her range of duties might have something to do with that. She runs Child Health clinics offering immunization, clinical assessment and educational support for children from two to 18 months.

AnnMarie with new mother Hilary Parsons and baby Owen Kettle.

AnnMarie with new mother, Hilary Parsons, and baby Owen Kettle.

She offers breastfeeding and parenting support in both home and clinic visits. She runs pre-school health check clinics for four-year olds to assess if they’re ready for school or have any health concerns, and supports the local Healthy Baby Clubs from 0-six years old.

She’s involved with the control of communicable disease – anything from flu to problems with contaminated water.

At times, she may assess men and women for placement in long-term care facilities and sits on the Age-Friendly Committee, a local resource for seniors.

And she helps to mentor nursing students while they do their community health on-the-job training.

AnnMarie mentoring nursing student Brittany  Woodman.

(l-r) Brittany Woodman, nursing student, and AnnMarie.

“What I do runs the full continuum of health care – or as I like to say ‘from the cradle to the grave,’” AnnMarie says with a smile. “It really is all about the caring and it’s so nice to feel the appreciation in return.”

AnnMarie says in a small community, far from the larger health care centres, a community nurse works fairly independently – but forms close ties with other community leaders such as school principals and guidance counselors, social workers, town officials and members of the clergy. Her volunteer work with her church and several other community service groups strengthen those relationships even further.

And speaking of close ties, her patients and clients are her next door neighbours, family members and friends she grew up with, who feel free to ask her advice anytime, anywhere!

“You’re never quite off the job because people always know where to find you – they just call your relatives and ask,” AnnMarie says with a laugh. “But I love rural living and supporting the people of my area to achieve optimal health.

“It’s really kind of wonderful; it makes you feel warm in your heart that people are so comfortable with you.”

Their confidence is well placed. AnnMarie has both an RN and a BN, completed a Nursing Leadership Development Diploma Course at McMaster University School of Nursing in 1996, and achieved National Certification in Community Health Nursing from the Canadian Nurses Association in 2011.

A lot has changed in a quarter of a century. AnnMarie started her career in the old Cottage Hospital in St. Lawrence, before moving to the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre for a few years and eventually home again to St. Lawrence.

“In the early days, everything was hand-written; computers have made a huge difference to our documenting patient care,” AnnMarie says. Nurses also have more options today when it comes to specialty training.

“But the hands-on nursing care doesn’t change – if you are kind and respectful to others, they’ll be kind and respectful to you,” she adds. “The only difference is that patients are more likely to ask questions.  And that’s a very good thing – as it means they’re more informed and engaged in their own health care!”

AnnMarie has learned a lot over the years – both in school and on the job. The babies she once cared for are now having babies of their own.

AnnMarie assessing newborn baby.

AnnMarie assessing newborn baby.

What would she tell young community health nurses starting out in their careers?

“See the importance of ‘population health’ – keep the big picture in mind while tending to individual issues and concerns.”
“Never minimize the concerns of those who come to you.”
“Never underestimate the impact of what you do on the lives of others.”

AnnMarie Slaney will accept her 25-year Service Award on April 8, 2014, at a ceremony in Marystown.

This story was written by Deborah Collins,  a communications manager with Eastern Health, based in St. John’s.

30 responses to “From the Cradle to the Grave: The Life and Times of a Community Health Nurse

  1. Well done AnnMarie and very well deserved. Thank you for your 25 yrs of service and your dedication. May you continue to serve for many years to come.

  2. Congrats Anne Marie, well deserved and thank you for being there for me. I have nothing but love and admiration for you and all nurses. Thank you.

  3. Congratulations Annmarie on your 25 years of service to the nursing profession. You are a wonderful and caring person and certainly well deserving of this award, you go above and beyond. I wish you all the best in the years to come.
    Carol Ann

  4. congratulations to you on your 25years of service. You are a huge asset to health care. Working with you over the years has been great. congrats and enjoy the years ahead.

  5. Congratulations Anne Marie – you are a wonderful person on the inside and out and you do an excellent job in everything that you do and always go above and beyond. It is a pleasure to work with you and I hope I get to work with you in many years to come! Diane

  6. Congratulations Ann Marie on 25 years of dedicated service. We are so thankful for your help when needed & professionalism. Well done! Well deserved award. Alice & Clum

  7. Congratulations Ann Marie you are such a beautiful person on the inside and out . Well deserved .

  8. Congratulations Ann Marie on your 25 years of service!! That is quite an accomplishment. Well done. Very nice article.

  9. Congratulations Ann Marie – I too had the pleasure of working with you and though it was for a short time I enjoyed every minute. We had quite a few laughs. I found you had a calming personality and that’s probably why everyone loved you.

  10. Congratulations Ann Marie..Your gentle manner coupled with your professionalism and Nursing knowledge, has certainly made your presence here in our area this many years truly one to be appreciated by one and all. Continuing good wishes for the future !

  11. Congratulations Ann Marie:
    WOW, what a great tribute to a very hard working, caring health care professional. We (your family) are so very proud of you and your accomplishments. So nice to see the community and Eastern Health pay tribute, recognize and admire your accomplishments. Congratulations and enjoy your 25 service award celebrations. HUGS 4 U !

  12. Beautiful article for a well deserved hard working individual (even if I am biased as an older sister) in recognition of your 25 years of service to the health care system. Congratulations and best wishes always. xxx

  13. Lillian Slaney Kelly (Sister In Law) April 5th ,2014 at 1:20 Congratulation Angie on your 25 years of Service ! You are a wonderful lady & you deserve it .Enjoy your service award .Love You Lily ,Ambrose & family xxoo

  14. Congratulations! You model the true spirit of what Community Health Nursing is all about!!

  15. Thank you all for your kind comments . I am truly blessed to have a great job, great co-workers, family, friends , and colleagues. God Bless You All !

  16. Congratulations on your recent nursing award! you are so deserving of this award …Your professionalism, love of what you do, your integrity & love of family & friends are all about you! God Bless & thank you for being part of my life!

  17. congratulations on your 25 years of nursing. you sure do go above an beyond your call of duty. The people you serve admire how caring and compassionate you are with there loved ones. you sure are admired by everyone for wearing your heart on your sleeve, hope you will be around for a few more years. congratulations job well done.

  18. Congratulations Ann Marie on 25 years of your service and dedication to the people and the communities…always knew you would be a fablous nurse❤🍾

  19. Congratulation Ann Marie on your 25 years award you well deserved it. It was a great honor working with you in the old hospital.

  20. Congratulations Ann Marie. You are the embodiment of what nursing delivers to society. Care, Compassion, Empathy and Love delivered daily to patients. So proud of what you have achieved.

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