BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Helen Bordeaux, April 7, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Interview with Helen Bordeaux, April 7, 2004
April 7, 2004
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Bordeaux, Helen Interviewer:  Mims, Luann Date of Interview:  6/9/2004 Series:  SENC Health Services Length:  60 minutes


Mims: Today is April 7, 2004. I'm LuAnn Mims for the Randall Library Special Collections, series on Health Services of Southeastern North Carolina. We are talking today with Helen Murray Bordeaux who is a 1955 graduate of James Walker School of Nursing.

Mims: Hi Mrs. Bordeaux. We're going to get started today and if you could give me a little bit about your personal background, your hometown, what kind of work your father did.

Bordeaux: I was born in the country, Pender County. We later moved in the country out in Burgaw, Highway 53. My dad was a saw miller and he did that most of his life. He left home…he started working at a really early age to help support his family and he was a smart man, very smart. He did a lot of, I always say crafty things because he could think and put things together and make them work. He also did some farming. My mother was a homemaker.

I had four sisters, oh I’m sorry, 4 siblings…three sisters and a brother who was 10 years younger than me. We've always been pretty close. My older sister died in '95 with breast cancer, but all the rest of the children are living. All of my sisters were in education and my brother also. And I was the only one that went into nursing.

Mims: What made you feel like nursing was going to be the occupation for you?

Bordeaux: I don't really know except whenever I was growing up in high school, I always said I was going to be a doctor, but that never crossed my mind as I got older. My sisters all went to Meredith College in Raleigh. I went my first year out of high school to

Meredith and I decided I didn't want to do that anymore and that I wanted to go into nursing. So I made contact on my phone, I don't remember and then I sort of told my parents I was going into training.

Mims: How did you find out about the school of nursing here in Wilmington?

Bordeaux: I guess because, I don't really remember, just because I lived nearby and I guess I knew about it that way. I don't recall at this point knowing anyone who went to James Walker.

Mims: Do you remember what the process was like to get into the School of Nursing?

Bordeaux: I just know, not really, but I just applied and I guess they must have gone over applications and I was admitted. But as far as taking any kind of test or anything, I did not.

Mims: Once you got to the School of Nursing, what was life like there? You had to live there in the dorm, right?

Bordeaux: Oh yes and we had to be in at a certain time in the evening and we had to sign in and out to go out, especially for the first nine months were really strict. I think it was the first day I went into training, I happened to wear a sundress to supper that night and all the older students came down and they were shocked to see someone in a sundress without sleeves so they told me that I was really going to get into trouble because I was wearing a sundress. Anyway I didn't. I didn't have anybody get after me or anything but I really was uneasy.

Mims: So even in your free time you were supposed to be in a certain type of clothing?

Bordeaux: Well back then you didn't show, even our uniforms were very long, down to our ankles practically. The girls wore shorts and that kind of thing, but I guess to go into the dining room, it was on hospital time where we ate. So I don't know if they were really teasing me or what.

Mims: I wondered what the relationship was like between the girls you had been there before you when you came in new. Was there like a lot of good-natured teasing or were they kind and helped you with getting settled in?

Bordeaux: I didn't really have very close; none of my 3 years in training did I really have a close relationship with upper classmen. Some of the girls did. I don't know if they knew them from their homes or from being there or what. But I just really stuck with my class and special people who I knew.

My best friend was a girl from up in the New Bern area I believe it was, somewhere in that area. She left after the first year. Then there were several girls that were really neat girls that left after the first year.

Mims: Do you remember why they left?

Bordeaux: I never did know why they left. I was thinking last night why did Edna leave and I really don’t know why she left unless… or I guess she decided she didn't want to be a nurse. Some of them, their grades weren't quite good enough. You know they just had various reasons for leaving.

Mims: Can you recall anyone being asked to leave because they couldn't follow the rules?

Bordeaux: No.

Mims: You said something about the uniforms? I know there was a difference between your first year uniform and as you progress. Can you give me a little idea of how that went?

Bordeaux: Well, we got… to begin with when we did finally get our uniforms, it was just the dress that was striped, had blue stripes in it, a little bit wider than a pin stripe and a white apron. The long skirt and then the apron fastened on to the waistband of the skirt. It went around and of course it was starched. It was done at the hospital laundry and they were starched and very, very stiff.

We didn't get our cap, I don't really remember, the ninth month I believe is when we got capped and there was a special ceremony for that. It was just a plain white piece of material that was starched very stiff, did not have a band on it and after the first year, we got a little narrow band. Then later on we got another band. I don't think we had but two bands. Did Mary mention that?

Mims: I can't keep up with this because it seems like it was a pretty consistent way to recognize… especially when you were doing your practical work, for the other people in the hospital to recognize what you could or could not do and I think that was the reasoning behind that plus it gives you incentives to continue. She was also talking about the cuffs on the sleeves or something. They were separate or something. It seems like everybody's talked a little different things about the uniform. When did you go into all white and got away from the pinstripe?

Bordeaux: We didn't do that until after you graduated.

Mims: Because I noticed all the graduating pictures, you were in white.

Bordeaux: Well, your graduating uniform was a white; a long white uniform and they were all identical. I think we had three when we graduated and they had long sleeves and cuffs on them. When you graduated your really full uniform, which a few nurses, old nurses wore especially private duties, but generally there was a little thin scarf that you wore around your neck and your pins on it, or James Walker pin.

Mims: Did do wear that, the scarf?

Bordeaux: You did that for graduation.

Mims: What color was the scarf?

Bordeaux: It was white, thin material. It just looked pretty. It wasn't too practical I don't think to wear to work in. Some of the private duty nurses, a few did wear that.

Mims: I also noticed in the graduation pictures that everybody has a bouquet of some kind. Where did that come from?

Bordeaux: The doctor that we chose at the end of the year of graduation gave it to us, George Johnson. I believe he gave us at graduation all the red rose bouquet and he also gave us a little gift and mine was a pair of cufflinks with my initial on it.

Mims: This was like a doctor that stayed with your class the whole time?

Bordeaux: No, it was just someone that we chose that we learned to love and thought so much of, thought a lot of... I guess it was because of the way he treated the students and that kind of thing.

Mims: What other doctors do remember while you were a student nurse?

Bordeaux: Dr. Bert Williams, Dr. Horace Moore, Dr. Charles Sale who was an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist and surgeon, Dr. Black, Dr. Dosher, Dr. Dickie, Dr. Walker, Hooper... of course I liked pediatrics, the two Crouch's, Aurley Crouch and…oh I forgot his name, the other Crouch, Kosaruba and Dr. Warshauer, of course.

Mims: Sam Warshauer? What was his specialty?

Bordeaux: He was an internist and I believe he treated most everything internal, cardiology. I don't know if he had a particular specialty or not. There's just so many.

Mims: Cause it sounded like they had a really good program where you rotated through different wards and different specialties so you would have come in contact with a different group of doctors at different times. What do you remember about going through that particular type of training?

Bordeaux: Well, it was interesting and of course fun. We were used like nurses because you know we had our responsibilities. [Break in Tape]

Mims: So you were saying that going through the clinical was interesting and you learned a lot. What do you remember as your favorite rotation?

Bordeaux: Pediatrics.

Mims: Why did you like that?

Bordeaux: I liked working with children and we didn't have as many doctors come in through the ward as they did on the other wings. I liked that. That was the biggest thing. We had lots and lots of medication to give cause they really got a lot of meds.

Mims: And children probably not willing to take their medicine.

Bordeaux: Well, yeah, of course they didn’t, but most you got it down fine, the way…special way you held them, you got it down and just gave it to them the way you would. Most everything was liquid. We gave a lot of it and of course we gave a lot of injections.

Mims: Well, you were in training during the time where there was a lot of preventative type with childhood diseases like shots had come aboard like for polio. Wasn't that already taken care of by that time?

Bordeaux: Yes, I never took care of anyone with polio.

Mims: And I guess the diphtheria shot had already come through. So what primarily were children admitted for during your time there?

Bordeaux: Well they usually came in with high temperatures and colds and congestions and pneumonia and some of them at that time they were admitting and we'd give isolations for mumps and measles, German measles as well as the other and scarlet fever, a few. Some had just appendectomies, kidney problems and then a few had cancer and a few had been burned and some had cardiology, heart problems.

Mims: With your interest in pediatrics, did you ever go down to Babies Hospital?

Bordeaux: No, we never did. The only hospital I ever worked was James Walker. I never worked at the others. I didn't work a whole lot after I graduated. I worked two or three different times so maybe a total of about three years I worked at James Walker as a graduate.

Mims: What department were you in then?

Bordeaux: I was working… I did night duty when I first started back on one of the men's wards. I can't remember if it was upper hall or lower hall but I was on one of those wings. The next time I went to pediatrics, maybe the next two times. Then I didn't work for a while and we moved here and then I started at Cornelia Nixon Davis Nursing Home and that's where I've been ever since.

Mims: And at Davis Nursing Home, what is your function there?

Bordeaux: Staff nurse.

Mims: So you went from pediatrics to kind of a geriatric situation. I'm sure some of the techniques probably helped you in that. Back at James Walker I know that they had an isolated ward for communicable diseases. Did you ever have to go into that to do training?

Bordeaux: I did not go into a specific ward for isolation, but there were rooms on each wing that had occasionally isolation in it. Like pediatrics there were at times, we had several rooms that were isolated.

Mims: Well the reason I was asking that, I didn't know whether you ever thought about whether you were going to get sick because of going in with these patients with these diseases that you might pick up on?

Bordeaux: Didn't ever really worry about it. I think more about it now I guess than I did then (laughter).

Mims: Throw caution to the wind when you're young.

Bordeaux: But you know we wore a mask and we wore gowns and so we were pretty well protected. You went in… then we had two basins, one with water that you washed your hands in and one with something else that had some kind of sterilizing solution in it to wash your hands with as we came out. Of course you removed your gloves and gown.

Mims: You never got sick?

Bordeaux: Uh-uh, no.

Mims: I know that Walker also had a separate colored ward. Do you remember anything about that section of the hospital?

Bordeaux: I worked there a few days. I didn't work, you know, as a routine thing, but I was over there for a few days at various times.

Mims: What was that like? Did they have like full facilities there?

Bordeaux: Well, it was like any other wing. You know it was for all the blacks, babies on up through adults.

Mims: I understand they had their own emergency room entrance there too.

Bordeaux: You know, I don’t know.

Mims: I can't remember who was saying it, but it seemed like the emergency room doors were kind of side-by-side and had screen doors on it and you could hear the screen doors open and close. It's interesting because I know that once New Hanover was built, then it was integrated. Health services were integrated so James Walker is our example of segregation of the races.

Bordeaux: Well, they were more, I don't know if James Walker ever was fully desegregated or not before they closed.

Mims: No, because I know there was also Community Hospital specifically for the blacks of the community, but James Walker provided an additional area for them in a separate type area. It's just kind of curious in today's society that that was the way they were functioning here in town for a while. What can you recall about the women's ward where all the labor and delivery was? What was that area like?

Bordeaux: Labor and Delivery…well, there were several beds in labor that the ladies could be. I know one night one of the other students in my class and I went and were the only ones back there. We weren't too right as far as when the baby was going to be born. We just happened to luck up and see one that was getting ready to be born and got her in there and got everybody there okay and in time. We were really amazed at it for a while.

I don’t recall just working with a student anymore after that one time, but usually there was one back there who worked there all the time, a graduate. There was a head nurse back there usually. Then out on the floor they had a separate floor for maternity.

Mims: Were the babies kept in a nursery too?

Bordeaux: Yeah, there was a good size nursery and then we also had a premature nursery where babies under 4 pounds, I guess, or had problems were in. They also got babies out of Wilmington that had not been born thee that needed to be in premature. I didn't particularly like premature. They were so little and you really couldn't do much talking and that type thing.

Mims: Sure, the technology wasn't what it is today, that you were probably limited in what you could do for especially really extreme prematuraty babies. That's kind of sad. I know I talked to somebody who had an experience at Babies Hospital with premature babies coming there from out of the area. I didn't realize Walker did the same thing.

Bordeaux: Yes, they did. I don't know how many babies they could take care of, but it was a good number, maybe 10, I really don't know, but it was not a huge number. We also had a milk lab. The students were in there. We prepared the formula and sterilized it and also washed and sterilized the bottles and nipples and got the formula ready for all the babies for all day.

Mims: This was in the days before pre-made up formula. Do you remember what kind of formula you made, what went into it?

Bordeaux: Not really, there were various things depending on what the baby needed. Most of them were the same thing, but then there were some where we used powder, I don't know particularly what kind of powder it was for the milk, added water. You know you had to mix, stir it really good and then put it in through the autoclave.

Mims: I remember my mother giving my sister Carnation evaporated milk. That's why I was asking (laughter). I can't imagine giving that to a baby today, but that's what her doctor recommended at the time.

Bordeaux: Well, they used canned milk. I probably gave that to my baby, I don't remember (laughter).

Mims: Things have certainly changed. So breast-feeding was not a real big push to encourage the moms to do that at the time?

Bordeaux: No, I don't believe so. I didn't breast feed my one child. I guess I thought about it, but I didn't really want to and no one really encouraged me to.

Mims: In our nursing training, did they ever approach that, that breast milk was preferred or the prepared formula was better?

Bordeaux: I don't think so; at least I don't remember it. Like I said, we prepared a lot of bottles (laughter).

Mims: What was our surgical rotation like? Do you remember that?

Bordeaux: Well, back in surgery you scrubbed up, put your gown, mask and gloves on. Generally the students did that and if they were graduate nurses back there, they did the circulating. They didn't have to scrub, but they did errands in case they needed to get things or get something if it was forgotten.

You sort of had to try to anticipate what the surgeon needed. When you scrubbed up and got your gown and your gloves and your mask and all that on, you opened up your set and got everything in place. They had these long tables to put the instruments on so you got everything organized while you were waiting for the surgery to start and you better get it all organized before the surgeon came in and got started.

Mims: Had you had class training to identify what these tools were and what their function was or did they just kind of throw you in there and you learned as you go?

Bordeaux: I'm sure they must have had some kind of orientation as to what and you probably maybe scrubbed up with someone to begin with and just sort of watched what they were doing. She told you what to do and that kind of thing. They used a specific knife and scalpel or blade to go into the skin initially and then that knife was gotten rid of. Then they used another one after that or after getting into the skin because of infection.

Mims: I would imagine that was kind of a stressful rotation just because the intensity of the situation. Can you remember?

Bordeaux: I never particularly liked surgery.

Mims: What were those doctors like?

Bordeaux: Some of them were very nice and some of them could lose their temper, but generally the ones I worked with were pretty nice to work with. I do not remember now how long the rotation was. It was several weeks I guess, but I did not cry when I left (laughter).

Mims: Was there another rotation that you liked even less than that?

Bordeaux: Probably not, except I wasn't really that interested in the emergency room I guess nor the premature nursery. But you know the other wings were fine.

Mims: The emergency room is another high moment type of situation where you have to assess things very quickly. As a student nurse how did you function in that capacity?

Bordeaux: Well, luckily there was always a graduate there and we just sort of helped out best I remember, or did things that came up that we needed to do. I don't recall myself having to assess someone by myself.

Mims: Can you remember any particular traumatic experience when you were down there?

Bordeaux: No, not really, not while I was working in the emergency room.

Mims: What do you remember about blood donation during this time? As a student nurse, were you involved with that at all?

Bordeaux: No, blood was given, but other than that, I didn't have anything to do with it. The baby’s got blood and the pediatrician gave that and you'd have to hold the baby down in order for them to get the blood or IV fluids. They were little tiny babies and the bigger children…it would drip in.

Mims: When you were a student nurse were you trained to give IV fluids or were the doctors still doing that.

Bordeaux: No, no we had interns. The interns did, if you had to have an IV started, most of the interns started the IV or if you had a problem, you'd call the intern. Nurses didn't do a whole lot of diagnosing back then like they do now. What nurses do now, interns did that when I was in training. So that was a different experience for me to have to get out to make decisions or try to diagnose and decide what was wrong with a person, well… identify it because like I said you had them to call. They were always in the building.

Mims: So as a student nurse you were involved in a wide variety of clinical training, but you also picked up on a number of things through observation cause obviously you're able to transpose that into what you're doing now. So your basic education provided you enough education to get you to do what you're doing now. How was it once you graduated? You had to go and take the test to become certified or registered?

Bordeaux: Yes.

Mims: What was that situation like?

Bordeaux: Well it was long. You know I think the best I remember it was like two days and you had to take a test that was on each subject and luckily I passed the first time. It was really long and tiring and frustrating.

Mims: And it wasn't taken here in town, right?

Bordeaux: No, you had to go to Raleigh.

Mims: Did the school set you up for a time to go up there or was that on your own that you did that?

Bordeaux: It was set-up. They only offered it, I don't know, if it was once a year or not because there were nurses, well students from all over coming to take the exam. So it was set up, the time and everything was set up and you knew when to and you got yourself there. Like I said, I don't remember for sure, but it seems to me that I was there for two days, well overnight.

Mims: Let's back up for a minute. What do you remember about your graduation? What was that ceremony like?

Bordeaux: Oh it was really nice. We got on our white uniforms and it was in the church. I believe it was in the church beside New Hanover High School. And of course your families were there and friends and we had a big beautiful bouquet of red roses. We really felt important. It was like any other kind of graduation.

Mims: You had gotten your pin earlier or you get your pin at graduation?

Bordeaux: You get your pin earlier.

Mims: So you have a capping ceremony and you have a pinning ceremony and then you have graduation. I guess your parents finally came around to the idea of you being in health care.

Bordeaux: Oh yeah, they didn't object, in fact they were really happy. But you were asking about the uniforms. We also wore capes and they were really pretty. I still have my cape I lost one of my buttons, but I still have my cape.

Mims: And these were Navy blue?

Bordeaux: Navy blue on the outside and red on the inside We felt like we were dressed up with that, well at least I did.

Mims: And when you went to work, that sufficed as a jacket for you right?

Bordeaux: Uh-huh, yes.

Mims: So you were identified on your way to work and work as a nurse even though your uniform was underneath.

Bordeaux: Yes, of course it just came down to probably your upper knees I guess.

Mims: Did you have to purchase your uniforms?

Bordeaux: No, that's part of it.

Mims: That seems like a pretty good deal because you guys were paid while you went to school, right?

Bordeaux: No, we did not get any money. We got our food and we had a place to life of course. Don't ask me how much it was to go there, I have no idea. Of course it wasn't a tremendous amount, but you know you had to pay to go, but no, we didn't get money to go.

Mims: I thought that I hard heard that whenever you did your rotations or worked on some floor, you got some kind of money or something. It must have been after you graduated, you worked there and then you got on the payroll. How did you feel when you got out of school and took your first job there at the hospital? What was that like making that transition?

Bordeaux: Well I'm sure I was quite nervous because I had, like you said, I did not work to begin with. I was going to get married and we probably had to work the summer before we got out and I was going to get married in November so I went home. It was after I went home and then after we got married in November that I started to work the next year and work night shift.

I did that for a few months and that really got to be too much ‘cause I was not living in Wilmington, I was having to drive to town and going to sleep driving home (laughter).

Mims: There wasn't a hospital up in Pender County was there?

Bordeaux: Yes there was, but I at that time after I got married I lived in Columbus County.

Mims: Was there a hospital in Columbus County?

Bordeaux: No. Well, not where I lived but I think there was probably one near Whiteville. But yes, Pender Memorial had been built whenever I was in school.

Mims: So it was fairly new then. Well then you started your career later on at the nursing home. Did you have to get recertified or anything?

Bordeaux: No, you pay your nurse's dues to keep your license up each year. Well, now its every two years, at that particular time it was every year. So no, I just went to work. At that time you could do things different than you can now of course. So I just called and talked to these people I knew, other nurses I knew and they said come to work you know. The afternoon I was scheduled to go to work was the first time I ever saw the nursing home. It was several years later I filled out an application. (laughter).

Mims: You must enjoy doing what you're doing now.

Bordeaux: I do, for the most part I do.

Mims: How about your connection with former graduates, people you had gone to school with? Do you stay in touch with some of these people?

Bordeaux: Not as much as I say I am going to, but I do stay in touch with Mary Roberts and occasionally Mary Harris. I don't know if you've met her yet or not. And then…

Mims: Do you attend the alumni meetings?

Bordeaux: Yea, no…I do some, but they have it now for the last several years, they have it on Saturdays around mid-day. At one time I was working like every other weekend and I just didn't feel like you know spending my day off going to that in the middle of the day on Saturday and it seems like now I'm working every other weekend and it's working 3 to 11 and I don't really have time to go way across town and get back in time to get ready to go to work, so I haven't really been a whole lot. Occasionally I would go. I do go to the five-year get-togethers.

Mims: It's nice that they have that for you to fall back on like just a networking thing, a similar experience. I think that's nice.

Bordeaux: Yea, I see some of the nurses I work with are James Walker graduates so there are several at Davis so I do see those. Actually my sister-in-law is, my husband's sister, and we were in the same class together.

Mims: Really? Is that how you met your husband?

Bordeaux: Yeah, through her. So of course we see each other.

Mims: What's her name?

Bordeaux: Carolyn Cavanaugh.

Mims: I should put her name on the list too.

Bordeaux: She works in surgery. She's always worked surgery. She loves that.

Mims: Really? There were no guys in your class, were there?

Bordeaux: Oh no. (Laughter)

Mims: I don't even think that the school could have handled them if they had been there because of the living situation. When was your first contact with a male nurse?

Bordeaux: You mean to work with?

Mims: Or just if you met one at work or you happened to be a patient of one or something. Just trying to get your idea of men in the nursing field.

Bordeaux: Well, I do work with some occasionally over there at the nursing home. One time I was in the hospital for a day or two and I did have a male student nurse. He was okay. You have to get used to them to begin with, but now you see them so I've gotten adjusted to it. They usually…well to begin with, back when we were wearing caps; we wore caps at Davis for a long, long time. After they stopped wearing them in the hospital, we were still wearing caps. When the male nurses came, of course they didn't wear a cap.

Mims: (Laughter) It would look silly unless it was a ball cap. So a lot of the ceremonial aspects of nursing and nursing school would have to be altered to adjust to men coming into the field because I couldn't see a guy wearing that little organdy scarf with the pin and that kind of thing. It's interesting how things have changed and you’ve obviously seen a lot of changes. What do you think has been the most dramatic change that you've experienced?

Bordeaux: Well, as far as the dress is concerned, their uniforms and of course having so many decisions to make on your own. You know you need to be right on, mostly right. I guess just having to make so many decisions because like I said when we were in training, we always had somebody to fall back on. You had interns to do what we're doing now. So I guess that would be the biggest change.

Mims: Have you had to do some kind of retraining to stay up in the field?

Bordeaux: Well, we do have in-services quite often up at Davis. There was a time when they were talking about having to have so many points in order to keep your license up, but that was never made official. I really haven't heard about it for a good long time now. But you do need in-services for various things that you need to learn how to do to do your work, also medications and things like that.

Mims: Because those change all the time?

Bordeaux: Yea, so we have… at Davis there are two nursing practitioners there about all the time during the week, during the day and one of them especially has an in-service periodically. That's a big help. Also they get outsiders to come in for special things.

Mims: To keep you up to speed on things. Well you've had an opportunity to work with some of the older doctors and older nurses in the area. What did you learn from them about you know trends of medicine at the time? Like in the pediatric situation, you worked with probably you saw Dr. Sidbury maybe and Dr. Kosaruba who'd been around for a long time. What did you learn from them about how to handle yourself as a nurse in that situation?

Bordeaux: I don't remember anything special except just taking care of following their orders and you needed to really follow their orders and …

Mims: Did they share with you or relate any old stories like, “When I was a young guy, we used to do it like this?”

Bordeaux: I don't recall… I don't remember hearing that.

Mims: Do you know whether you knew of any old time like medical stories that they had maybe shared?

Bordeaux: No, I don't.

Mims: What do you think about being a nurse? If you could have it all to do over again, would you still become a nurse?

Bordeaux: I don't know. I probably would because I don't what else I'd want to be… so I guess I would. I say often though if I knew back then what I know today, I would never do it. I see the nurses or girls whose mother is a nurse, “What in the world did you let them go to nursing school because everything has changed so much?”

Back…I remember back when I did go into nursing to begin with one of the instructors always said, “Don't ever tell anybody you're a nurse. Don't let anybody know you're a nurse because if you do, they'll ask you all these questions so don't ever tell.” So that's been my philosophy all my life, don’t tell anybody that I’m a nurse. It's so varied. There's so much you can do in nursing.

Mims: With all the specialization that nurses can go into now, administration especially. Do you think you would have chosen a different path than what you have now?

Bordeaux: Well, I hope I would have gone along and gotten my BS. Even though I had the year of college, I never gave it a thought to go on with it and do a BS. Of course now you really need to. Most nurses do have that, especially if they're going to do any kind of leadership role.

Mims: And nurses do provide a lot of leadership especially for hospitals in today's world. A young girl coming in or a young guy coming in today and wanting to know what direction to take, what advice would you give them on that?

Bordeaux: Well, the ones I see up at the nursing home I usually tell them, “You know even though you may like it,” and we up there do a lot now that we never did to begin with. It's sort of like the hospital used to be, you take care of really sick people and you do a lot for them the way we used to. But I say, “If you’re going to make this your career,” in my opinion, “you need to work in a hospital to begin with to see what it's all about and to really get into it.” You need to work there.

Mims: Because then they'd learn whether they'd actually be able to do the work or not cause like you were saying some people dropped out after their first year or so. Maybe it was just not what the thought it was going to be.

Bordeaux: Yeah, then like I said we do a fair amount, we do IV's and that. We don't do blood up there. They have to go to the hospital if they need blood because so much could happen during. But their equipment and everything is so different.

Mims: Do you think there will always be a nursing occupation?

Bordeaux: Yeah, I don't see how they could get by without that.

Mims: Well we've gone from very hands on nurses to more of a director type nurse because when you were in nursing school, you guys did bedpans and total patient care, right?

Bordeaux: Right, yes.

Mims: Are you in that situation today?

Bordeaux: Occasionally I will do something like that, but no, we have CNA's who do that. Mostly we give a lot of medication and you know while we're there if a patients isn't feeling good or something like that, we have to assess them, chart that and then you've got to take care of them and follow through with everything. There's so much paperwork now that didn't used to be that is really a headache.

Mims: Well, I have it on a good authority that you have had a personal experience outside of the country as far as medicine is concerned. Compared to U.S. and a foreign country, what is health service like?

Bordeaux: Well, for my particular case, I had no problems whatsoever. I was with my brother and his wife over in Honduras seeing their daughter who was in the Peace Corps. I had fallen and broken my ankle and when we got to a hospital, which was the next day, she took me to the hospital where she had been several times because of problems and it was the hospital the Peace Corps uses.

She went in and explained what was needed or what was wrong and someone came out immediately with a wheelchair to the car and got me and got me across the street into the emergency room and there was a physician there, a lady who spoke a little English and so she talked to me a minute and asked me what happened. I told her and she told me what would take place, that I would be taken back to x-ray and then the orthopedist would see me and make decision what do to.

So as soon as she told me those things someone, the same fellow who brought me into the hospital took me over to x-ray, which was in the next room from the emergency room and I had the x-ray done and had just gotten back over to a table to get on. When the orthopedist came in and told me what I needed, that I did have a break, had two breaks and that I would need surgery.

My niece and my brother had already seen the x-rays and so she said she knew she wasn't going to let me have surgery over there so they obviously had already talked to him or asked him and he told me I could either two ways, I could have surgery there or he could put a cast on and I would be all right until I got home even if it was a week. Of course I chose that and he put the cast on and I was out in no time. So I don't know whether that would have worked with everybody or not and I don't remember seeing anybody else in the emergency room either.

Mims: Did you have contact with any of the nurses?

Bordeaux: No, uh-uh.

Mims: No, I didn't know whether you shared you were a nurse at that time or not (laughter).

Bordeaux: No.

Mims: Was it different? I mean did you feel at ease with everything there knowing what you know?

Bordeaux: Yes I did. Had I gone in there without my niece, not having been able to speak Spanish, of course I would have been terrified I'm sure, but she was very fluent.

Mims: I think it's a very interesting story to share with everybody and I certainly appreciate it. I appreciate your talking to us today. Is there anything else you can think of that we maybe didn't talk about?

Bordeaux: I can't remember anything right now.

Mims: Well again, I appreciate your talking to us today.

Bordeaux: Well you're welcome and I hope I helped you.

Mims: I think so.

UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign