Dee Stoehr, RN

Emergency Department
Start Date: 1963

FROM THE IRON LUNG TO CARDIAC TRANSPLANT: HOW THINGS CHANGE!

I first entered the doors of MedStar Washington Hospital Center as a member of its old School of Nursing, class of 1963. Upon graduation, I was hired as a staff RN in the Emergency Department. For a short time, I served as Head Nurse. After having my kids, I returned to part-time duties.

How times have changed! In the beginning, there was no CPR - that made its debut in 1964-65 and was soon followed by ICUs. Imagine care without cardiac monitors, defibrillators, angioplasty/bypass surgery, laparoscopy, hemodialysis or trauma units!

In fact, the original trauma unit was developed in the old ER, before evolving into MedSTAR. At that time - when notified of a chopper's arrival - the D.C. Fire Department ambulance would pick up an RN from the ER and drive to the helipad by the East Building, where we'd transfer the patient from the helicopter into the ambulance and return to the ER. At night, we'd hold battery-powered lanterns to light the pad!

I still have the shovel I used for the ground-breaking ceremony for the North Addition, which would house a new Emergency Department.

My personal memories of the Hospital Center are vast. A mutual friend introduced me to my husband, Henry, while he was on 3F, recovering from knee surgery. In 1966, our son Mike was born at the Hospital Center, and Henry had the thrill of being the first Dad to attend his baby's birth in Labor and Delivery. Our daughter, Tracy, was also born here, in 1971.

My career has taken me from the iron lung to cardiac transplant. The advent of the special code teams and advancement of pre-hospital intervention by EMS has truly improved patient care. Over the years, I have enjoyed being a mentor to hundreds of nurses, new to the ED experience. It's been a pleasure to watch them gain their skills. Most of all, I cherish the life-long friends I have met along the way.

My 47 years at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have been a great ride; I cannot begin to know how to retire, leaving it all behind me.