Rose Rennell started working at Campbell County Health in 1980, when it
was at the “old” hospital, where the
Campbell County Senior Center is now. It was in the middle of one of the famous coal and oil booms,
and she remembers that Boxelder Avenue from 4-J Road to Highway 59 was
a dirt path—that’s right, a path made by vehicles cutting
across a field.
“It seemed the whole town was under construction—streets were
being built, houses were quickly going up to give people a place to live,
and the stores had to deal with the influx of people for the boom,”
Rose, RN, MSN, COHN, says. However, she recalls that Gillette already
had a great school system in place, even amongst the chaos of a growth spurt.
Rose arrived in Gillette because of a friend who was a licensed practical
nurse (LPN) who worked here, and said there were several openings. Plus,
the pay was better than her current position in Rapid City. So, she made
the leap, and has never looked back. She's seen a lot change in health
care, in the organization, and even in Gillette. However, she's also
been a large part of shaping employee health services, which have made
CCH a safer and better place to work.
On Thursday, May 24, 2018, Rose retires from Campbell County Health.
Over the years, Rose has worked in two different departments with the organization—she
started out in
Maternal Child working in the Nursery for the first nine years, and then transferred
to Employee Health (within the Infection Prevention, Professional Development,
and Disaster Preparedness
department) after a car accident left her paralyzed. “Baerbel (Merrill) took
a chance on me—a nurse in a wheelchair—and that chance gave
me a career of a lifetime,” says Rose.
As an Employee Health Nurse, Rose spent hours of her time making sure CCH
staff, volunteers and providers were all immunized and healthy for their
jobs and their lives outside of CCH. Rose introduced and advanced a needleless
program so nurses didn’t expose themselves to potential diseases
when caring for patients, initiated accident investigations, created a
Safe Handling program to help save nurses backs from lifting patients,
and set up a light duty program to help employees return to work safely
after injuries—all which helped her earn a
Legend Award in 2015.
As you can imagine, Rose has seen a lot of changes to health care since
she began as a LPN in 1980.
“The biggest change in health care was the blood borne pathogen standard
in 1992, it changed the way health care was delivered,” she says.
For those not in the know, that is when nurses started wearing gloves
for patient care!
As for changes at CCH, Rose says that there are too many to count. “When
we first moved into the ‘new hospital,’ all patient care was
on the second floor—the
Intensive Care Unit, Maternal Child; all of it. The nurses were thrilled with the big, single
rooms with electric beds, and a cafeteria where we could finally sit down
and eat,” she says. “Since then, the hospital—the organization—has
been under construction and upgrading. It’s never stopped improving
As for the memories, Rose also says there are so many. She fondly remembers the
Campbell County Memorial Hospital Fifth Floor Christmas parties with Patient Experience,
Chappy Bob, Education and Infection Prevention and Employee Health. She remembers
finally seeing overhead lifts installed on patient care units (Med/Surg and ICU).
“It took over five years of research and work, and went through three
Plant Operation Directors to make lifting safer for the staff. I had seen
too many career ending injuries for employees from lifting patients, and
I was happy to help the organization work to provide a safer way for both
nurses, and patients,” she says.
She also fondly recalls one Halloween, when working as a nurse in Maternal
Child, when they took advantage of the blue scrubs they wore—they
all grabbed leg warmers and dressed up as Smurfs!
Rose says she’s looking forward to having no alarm clock when she
retires! As well as being outside when it is nice, and staying home when
it snows. She’s also looking forward to spending more time with
the volunteer agencies she is with, such as
First United Methodist Church of Gillette;
Healthcare Coalition-Vulnerable Populations;
Rocky Mountain Conference Disability Committee (co-chair);
Wyoming Independent Living; and the
Wyoming Nurses Association.
“I have met many wonderful people working at CCH,” says Rose.
“I will never forget them all. And, I will miss all of you.”
For those nurses who are new to the organization, this experienced nurse
has something to share with you: “There are a variety of ways to
practice nursing with CCH. Find the one that fits you and fills your heart.
I’ve often stated during orientation, ‘don’t leave CCH.
If you do, you will more likely come back and then you have to take that
med test again!’”
Thank you Rose, for making a difference in the lives of so many employees
and patients for nearly 40 years. You will be missed by many.