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Recognized on Historical Timeline, 93-year-old Former Nurse Visits Aultman Orrville

by User Not Found | May 08, 2013
Last month, Aultman Orrville Hospital had a special visitor at its annual community event. 93-year-old Arlene Knight came to the hospital event with her niece and nephew, Donna and Ric Snyder, to view the newly displayed historical timeline. The timeline illustrates the story of George T. Dunlap, his donation that led to the opening of the hospital in 1951, and the subsequent years serving as the community hospital of Orrville and Eastern Wayne County.

Spanning an entire hallway filled with photographs and milestones, the timeline also honors many people who served as leaders and health care providers at the hospital. Knight was one of the first registered nurses to work at the former Dunlap Memorial Hospital. She also holds space on the timeline, featured in a photo from her nursing days. And more than 60 years after her first day on the job, Knight came back to read through the memories and see herself as a local celebrity. 

Born in 1920, Knight’s family moved to Orrville when she was a toddler. She attended nursing school at Massillon City Hospital School of Nursing and became an army nurse after graduation in 1943. In the army, Knight spent time in England, but eventually moved back to Wayne County. After working two months at Wooster Community Hospital, Dunlap Memorial opened and Knight made the decision to work in her hometown. Knight recalls all of the responsibility she had as a nurse a Dunlap Memorial – not the typical job duties nurses have today.

“I helped set up the hospital – from scrubbing the floors and cleaning hospital units to working in a different department every day,” Knight said. “I worked in the ER, pharmacy, birthing unit and surgery.”

Knight told stories about her early days at Dunlap Memorial. She walked to work every day, and she helped deliver the first baby at Dunlap Memorial. According to Knight, there were more than 200 babies born the first year.

“I remember birthing units having those glass windows to see into the nursery,” she said. “You never see that anymore; things are a lot different than they used to be.”

Although health care has evolved and greatly changed, Knight spoke of concepts that are very important in health care today. She also recalled the leadership and skills of Dolores Pebley, who was the first hospital administrator, and Dr. Edwin Feltes, who was the first surgeon at Dunlap. Both are recognized and pictured on the timeline.

“The nursing care here was always really good because we worked as a team,” she stated. “Dolores Pebley was a great leader and a very good nurse; we followed her lead on how to best care for patients.”

Along with her family members, Knight carefully browsed through the entire timeline. She enjoyed looking at the photos and reading through the historical facts. Through the timeline history, the hospital took a new name, implemented new services, constructed new floors, and developed a new generation of nurses and health care providers. And Knight had some words of wisdom when asked the advice she would give health care providers today.

“Treat patients as people,” she said. “Patients are more than a number – they need to be treated physically, mentally and spiritually.”

That’s timeless advice from a local celebrity.

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