STEUBENVILLE - It produced its first class of nurses - all three of them - in 1915.
Since then, more than 2,000 nurses have graduated from the former Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing, now the Trinity Health System School of Nursing.
Its founding 100 years ago in 1912 is cause for a reunion that organizers hope will unite as many graduates as possible to reminisce and mark the school's centennial tradition of training and educating nurses.
Helping with the planning of the Aug. 18 reunion to celebrate 100 years of the Ohio Valley Hospital/Trinity School of Nursing are alumni, from left, Melissa Hassan, director of the Trinity School of Nursing, Class of 1982; Blanche Williams, president of the OVH/Trinity School of Nursing Alumni Association, Class of 1958; Patty Dennis, Class of 1966; and Patty Milosevich, Class of 1962. Judy Owings also has been assisting. The planners are in front of a memorial cabinet in the main lobby of Trinity Medical Center East that showcases nostalgic items from the school of nursing. Part of the reunion will include a tea and tour of the former nurses’ residence that will begin in the lobby Aug. 18 and be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The evening celebration Aug. 18 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville begins with registration at 5:30 p.m., welcome and introductions at 7 p.m., dinner at 7:15 p.m. and the program beginning at 8:15 p.m. Music, dancing and visiting will follow.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
The reunion has been in the planning stages for more than a year, a project launched by the OVH/Trinity School of Nursing Alumni Association led by its president, Blanche Williams, a 1958 graduate.
It will be held Aug. 18 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville with registration, pictures, social time and hors d'oeuvres from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; welcome and introductions at 7 p.m.; dinner at 7:15 p.m.; the program at 8:15 p.m.; and 9 p.m. marking the start of more visiting along with music and dancing.
The cost is $35 per person with the reservation deadline being Aug. 10. Spouses and friends are invited.
A reservation form should include name (maiden name, too), address, phone number and e-mail along with the number attending. Checks can be made payable to OVH/Trinity Alumni Association and mailed to Judy Owings, Alumni Association, 1 Ross Park, Steubenville OH 43952.
Pictures will be taken of all the attendees, and a directory will be made and mailed. The optional cost for one is $10 which should be added to the $35 fee for those desiring one.
The event is BYOB with mixes supplied.
"We have girls coming from California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina," said Williams, who discussed the reunion's status during a gathering with Melissa Hassan, director of the school of nursing and a 1982 graduate of it; Patty Milosevich, Class of 1962; and Patty Dennis, Class of 1962 and a now retired instructor from the school.
Judy Owings, the director of the Prime Time Office on Aging, also has been instrumental in helping.
Part of the festivities will include a tea and tour of the former nurses' residence, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning in the main lobby at Trinity Medical Center East.
"We anticipate out-of-towners will come and see the school that they lived in anywhere from 36 to 33 months," said Hassan, who assumed the duties of the school's director this year. "It's an honor and a privilege to be director of my alma mater," she said.
The tour will start in the lobby but allow the former students to tour at their leisure. "I'm sure they'll all have sentimental places they'll want to see," Hassan said. That would include their dorm rooms. Students used to be required to live on the premises. As of 2007, the dormitory facilities are no more. "We've becme pretty much a commuter school," Hassan said.
Student nurses will volunteer time to assist with the tea and tour, which will include refreshments.
While dinner reservations have approached 200, there were more than 800 letters sent out all over the country, organizers said, explaining there was a challenge in obtaining addresses with no real database to rely on and marriages bringing name changes that complicated the process.
The move for the reunion came not long after two other school of nursing-related events. One was the establishment of the alumni association in 2008 that meets twice a year at 5 p.m. on the third Wednesday in April and October at Starkdale Presbyterian Church. It's a covered-dish dinner that fosters fellowship and reminiscing with a goal to support the school and offer scholarships.
The other was the completion of the association's first project - a showcase cabinet in the main lobby at Trinity Medical Center East that displays nursing memorabilia. It's where the tour and tea will originate.
"After we got that cabinet made, I said we really need to recognize the school of nursing, and I think someone said it's going to be the 100th anniversary," Williams said in explaining how the reunion idea came to be.
The program will include a retrospective on nurses, according to Williams, with a presenter addressing a specific time frame complemented by a model wearing a uniform of that period.
"We're going to focus on nurses from the past and the present with our speakers being nurses and then we're going to have a video we had made, a DVD of pictures from the past, and I have a nice program made up," Williams said. The program will parallel national and world news events to school of nursing news.
The presenters will be Martha Jane Allen Brondos, speaking about nurses from the 1950 era; Norma Ryan will talk about the traditional nurse of the past; and Hassan will focus on the present-day student nurse.
Williams also will offer snippets from the school's rules and regulations manual, which included dorm lights out at 10:30 p.m. sharp.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for me, and I'm excited to see old friends," Williams said.
Milosevich is looking forward to the reunion, too.
"I am so excited to see all the friends, and this will be our 50th celebration - a celebration within a celebration," Milosevich said of what the event will be for her and her Class of 1962 peers.
Dennis, a nurse for 45 years, shares in the reunion enthusiasm.
"It's 100 years, and who can say their school is 100 years old and successful throughout all of those years?" Dennis said. "I think it's a real special event, and I'm excited to see all these friends we made all through the years and hopefully we'll recognize them and they'll recognize us," she said with a chuckle.
The Aug. 18 celebration is as much for the more recent graduates as it is the older ones, according to Williams, who said the association hopes to recruit the younger generations, too.
New graduates are offered the first year of alumni association membership free, and in a move to appeal to them through social networking, a Facebook page has been created.
Trinity Health System School of Nursing originally was founded in 1912 as the Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing. Previously known as the Training School for Women Nurses, the school graduated its first class of three nurses in 1915.
In 1943, the school was approved for participating in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Program. A student nurse who joined the Cadet Nurse Corps was eligible for a government subsidy that paid her tuition, books and uniform as well as a small living stipend. The school produced its final cadet class in 1951.
Trinity Health System School of Nursing was established as the result of an affiliation between Ohio Valley Hospital and St. John Medical Center. The school was renamed the Trinity Health System School of Nursing in 1996 with the affiliation between Ohio Valley Hospital and St. John Medical Center. Throughout the school's history, there have been more than 2,000 graduates.
While there have been changes through the years in the school of nursing, it offers the same educational foundation with a strong clinical hands-on approach, according to Hassan, who noted repeated 100 percent pass rates in state boards is an example of the school's commitment to excellence.
"The heart and art of nursing is still alive and kicking at Trinity School of Nursing," Hassan said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)