Bio: Behrens, Alice (Retires - 1973)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Behrens, Lauscher, Holum, Hohl, Turville, Lewis, Bell, Kissling, Ellingson

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 7/05/1973

Behrens, Alice (Retires -1973)

When Mrs. Louis (Alice) Behrens cleaned out her desk Friday afternoon and drove home to Greenwood, she brought to a close a 19-year career as director of nursing services at Memorial Hospital and Memorial Home in Neillsville.

Mrs. Behrens began her work at the hospital July 1, 1954, several months before the new facility opened its doors to patients on October 13. Her retirement follows the earlier retirement of two others connected with the new hospital from its beginning. Mrs. Mae Lauscher, who retired as manager of the business office a year ago and Mrs. Connie Holum, who retired approximately six months ago from her post as head of the medical records services department.

Still on duty are five nursing assistants whose careers date back to the time of the hospital’s opening. They are Luella Hohl, Helena Turville, Fern Lewis, Mabel Bell and Mildred Kissling. A sixth member of the group, Louise Ellingson, has just recently retired.

A native of Grant County, Mrs. Behrens moved to Greenwood as a youngster and was educated in local schools. She entered nurse’s training at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Chicago and graduated from its three-year diploma program in 1933. After working as a private duty nurse and for a year as supervisor of the medical-surgical department there, she left to be married to Louis Behrens on Valentine’s Day in 1977. Subsequently, she retired from the nursing profession to raise two children.

The Behrens’s daughter, Cheryl, is now head nurse of the obstetrical department at Menomonie Memorial Hospital. Their son Jerome has just completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin and was to begin his practice as an orthopedic surgeon July 1 in Casper, Wyo.

Prompted by a shortage of nurses, Alice Behrens returned to work as a staff nurse in the surgical department of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield in 1953. She remained there until she accepted the past as director of nursing services at Neillsville. Her early duties included setting up policies and procedures and organizing the nursing services department with various committees in order to establish quality nursing care.

“In the beginning, I wore many hats,” Mrs. Behrens recalled.

In addition to the pre-service and in-service training of nursing assistants, she worked as charge nurse and made rounds with doctors as needed, and handled staffing for the hospital and the home until the appointment of a staffing clerk in 1966. She also attended many conferences on the subject of inservice training as a nurse trainee and took part in workshops covering all areas of nursing administration. During the past six years, she had the full responsibility of organizing the nursing services department at both Memorial Hospital and Memorial Home.

During Mrs. Behrens 19 years as director of nursing services, many changes have occurred. The physical growth of the combined hospital and home facility has necessitated the expansion of the nursing staff.

When the hospital opened in October 1954, approximately six full-time nurses and 16 nursing assistants were employed. Now, there are about 26 RN’s and 47 assistants. The two-stage construction of Memorial Home to replace the old nursing home located in the former hospital building on State Street has resulted in the current employment of approximately 17 RN’s and LPN’s and 69 nursing assistants there.

Along with expansion of the facilities has been the tremendous change brought about by advancements in medicine itself.

“The nurse does so many things today,” (which were not in her realm of authority in the past) Mrs. Behrens stated. “I’m happy we’ve been able to make the change.” “Our nurses have adapted to the new needs,” she added.

Her retirement, Mrs. Behrens said, is due in part to the recent arrival of two new granddaughters to join an older grandson and granddaughter-a five-day work week leaves precious little time to spend with grandchildren. Also influencing her decision was the fact that her husband has already spent three years of his retirement by himself.

Plans for a long vacation include some travel time. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of part-time teaching in the area vocational school system in the field of preservice and inservice training of nursing assistants.

As is many times the case, retirement presents a bittersweet experience for Alice Behrens. “I’ve enjoyed the cooperation of the nursing and medical staff here, which makes retirement difficult - I feel I’m leaving many friends,” she explained.

Mrs. Behrens was honored June 21 with a tea at the home of Mrs. John Roberts. Attending were nurses and practical nurses from the hospital and the home.

Those present for a retirement dinner last Wednesday evening at Bali Hai Supper club included administrators, medical staff members and friends. Mrs. Behrens was presented with a set of luggage as well as other gifts. Thursday morning, she was the guest of honor at a coffee given by nursing assistants at the hospital and the home, and received a monetary gift.

Mrs. Marion (Joyce) Spencer has been named to succeed Mrs. Behrens as director of nursing services. A resident of Rt. 1 Neillsville, Mrs. Spencer previously held the post of superintendent of the medical-surgical department of the hospital.



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