NOTES FROM NAPANOCH #23
by Joe Bevilacqua
Dorian Lennert-Shank is an LPN at Ellenville Regional Hospital. She works with patients in the Swing Bed Unit, a transitional care unit available to patients who have been hospitalized for three days or more as an acute admission, require services on a daily basis, as well as the supervision of professional or technical personnel. The Swing Bed Unit helps the patient make the transition from the acute care stage, either at Ellenville or another hospital, to recovery at home. It is ideal for the patient who isn't quite ready to be at home, especially alone, but wants to be closer to home, family, and friends.
Dorian, who is 50, went into the medical profession late in life, after having several other careers and raising a family.
In this first of two columns, Dorian explains how she went from working at her father's gas station to becoming a nurse, in her own words:
I am the oldest of four children. My dad had a business with his family—the gas station, Johnny Super Service in Ellenville. I had a very nice childhood. I still have the same best friends today that I had when I was 16—Barbara and Jackie. I was very close to my grandparents on both sides.
When I got out of school, in the late 1970s, I worked in importing and exporting for Channel Master, for a short time. Then, I took off, like some young people do, and I went to Florida and did nothing. When I came back in 1980, I started at VAW, working in purchasing.
My grandfather (on my father's side) had a stroke at forty, so growing up he was always sick. He was still healthy enough to work but he was always going to doctors, and I was his companion. That was a part of why I was interested in the medical profession.
In 1983, I got married. I stayed at VAW until 1987 when my daughter, Ashton, was born at 32-weeks old, unexpectedly. I had gotten sick with a virus that caused me to going into premature labor while I was on vacation in Florida.
I lived in a neonatal intensive care unit with her for four months. It was interesting and the nurses had me, as a mom, doing things with her, and I really liked it. Then, I got to know these nurses and they became my friends. I just loved the whole profession, what you can do and how much yo can give to somebody.
At that point, I wanted to become a nurse but I had another baby after Ashton died. Ashton lived to be thirteen months, and then thirteen months after that Ariel was born, and then I had another little girl four years later. I was a stay at home mom and it just didn't present itself for me to go to nursing school.
In 1998, my dad wanted to retire, so I went to work for my dad at the gas station while the kids were in school. Then, when they got a little older, I put them in daycare and worked four days a week, eleven hour shifts.
When I was growing up and helping at there, it was full service. We checked your oil, your tires, washed your windows. We had three bays that were always very busy. We had pumps on both sides. My parents had ten people working for them, at one time. We had a great customer base and it was fun. It was always busy. But then as times changed, when gas got more expensive, the less month you make as a dealer. That's when station's started substituting repairs with grocery products and convenience store items.
Repairs were not as profitable because they became all computerized, so you have to go to a dealer. It's just not the same. In the 1960s when I hung out there as a child , the attendants were wearing bow ties and starched Shell outfits. It was a Shell station for 25 years and then Mobile for nearly 20 years, and Citgo the last two years. We changed because we thought it was a more marketable product. Mobile was giving us a lot of grief over things like having the facade finished and the cost was outrageous and they were not going to foot the bill. Citgo was willing to help us with many different things. Plus, at that time, there prices was a little less; there product was a Venezuelan product which people were wanting, versus the Middle Eastern product.
Today, gasoline is really a loss leader. It is not something you are going to make money off of. You make four cents on a gallon if you are lucky. Most places are just getting by on their convenience store. The gas is just a draw. You make more money selling of a cup of coffee than you do do selling a gallon of gas.
Then, my dad was selling the gas station. I said to myself, “I'm 46 years old but I'm going to do it” and I enrolled in school. My family had a business here for sixty years—the community gave to my family. I had a very nice life and now I'm giving back to the community.
That's just me. I always want to fix things and take care of people, and I am outgoing. You have to have it in you. You have to have patience, tolerance, empathy. Those are things that come with learning throughout your life. It is not something that can be taught in school. It comes with living experiences.
I am not an ER kind of nurse. I like restorative care.
In my next column, we'll learn about Dorian Lennert-Shank's work as an LPN at Ellenville Regional Hospital's Swing Bed Unit.
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