While looking back over the long history of Rhode Island Hospital, one of New Englandís oldest facilities, RIHís CNO discovered that her predecessors had a rather meager beginning.
"We found documents from the 1870s when hospitals didnít have nurses, they had attendants, and many of them were men," said Riley, who has been at RIH for 10 years. "Nursing was not looked at as a profession, it was an employment that didnít need anything beyond a strong back and good moral character. Now we are looking at nursing students who donít even get into programs without at 3.5 GPA."
Riley is proud of how far RIH has come, both in recent years and through its storied history. The Providence facility kicked off its 150th anniversary celebration in November with the unveiling of its Legacy Timeline, which commemorates many of the hospitalís milestones since it opened in 1863.
RIH employs more than 7,200 people and is the stateís largest hospital and only Level 1 trauma center. It has been at the forefront of many significant technological advancements involving operations and treatment.
In recent years, Riley said the hospital undertook the journey to achieve Magnet status, and she feels nurses have been instrumental in that process.
Kathy Mezzanotte, an RN who works as a per diem float nurse two days a week, has been with RIH for one-third of its existence. She started in the ICU in 1963, and has seen extensive changes in her 50 years there.
"When I started, we just had the main hospital and the Jane Brown unit, with private rooms that were really nice, like in big hotels," Mezzanotte said. "Now we have the Co-op Building, the Bridge Building and a new emergency room. There are four buildings I float to. I enjoy taking care of people and working at Rhode Island Hospital. There will be a time when I step back, but I havenít felt that tap on the shoulder yet."
The other major changes Mezzanotte has seen at RIH involve technology.
Joseph Stevenson is a freelance writer.
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