For 59 years, Alice Osland has served Westbrook, Minnesota, by helping take care of its people.
But just because she’s retiring now as the longest-tenured employee of the entire Sanford Health network — excluding the Good Samaritan Society — that doesn’t mean she’ll stop taking care of them.
She’ll now do it on a volunteer basis instead for Sanford Westbrook — and avoid driving on winter roads when she doesn’t have to.
Osland, 79, started working as an LPN at the hospital in Westbrook when it was still called Dr. Henry Schmidt Memorial Hospital. When she arrived back in 1960, she recalled there wasn’t much orientation. “They just said, here you are, this is what you have to do, and you can go to work,” she said.
“I had to look around and see where stuff was that I needed.”
Osland had grown up on a farm west of Minneapolis, and marriage led her to Westbrook after nursing school.
Osland’s early duties included giving patients bed baths and back rubs, helping them to the bathroom and cleaning equipment and supplies — but without the sterilization techniques used today. It took some years after she started for IVs to become common practice. The emergency room looked nothing like the well-equipped emergency room of today.
‘Being with the people’ was best part
Osland quit working on the hospital floor as an LPN when computers came around. Then she started working at Peterson Estates, a Sanford Health senior living facility in Westbrook. She served as a home care nurse there, and she most recently has had environmental services duties such as cleaning.
But the weather was bad enough last winter to encourage her to retire.
“My kids wanted me to quit before I was 80,” she said.
“They said they don’t want to have to come and pull me off the road.”
What she most appreciated about her work was “being with the people, taking care of the people.”
Now she looks forward to entering the volunteer phase of her life at her longtime workplace.
“When you’re used to working all the time, you have to do something, because I can’t stand being home all the time when you’re used to being out,” Osland said.
“I can still visit with some of the people that are around here.”
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