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Rose Rennell retires after 38 years

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Rose Rennell retires after 38 years

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 Medical/Surgical Unit, 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 and growing.”

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.

  • Category: Employee Recognition, Maternal Child, Nursing