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Nurse honoured for 37 years of service in Labrador West

Nurse Tammy Turpin was honoured for 37 years of dedicated service in health care in Labrador West.
Nurse Tammy Turpin was honoured for 37 years of dedicated service in health care in Labrador West.

In a recent edition of the Aurora, we told you about Dr. Willie Arsenault, who retired after forty years of service.

In this edition another story of dedication in the medical field. This time the story of Nurse Tammy Turpin.

She arrived as a casual Nurse at the Captain William Jackman Memorial hospital in Labrador City. As she was honoured at the same ceremony as Dr. Willie the departure of them both meant 77 years of medical experience went out the door on the same day.

"I considered going to Texas,” she says because back then, there wasn't a big demand for nurses. But the Labrador City native decided to put her nursing skills to use in her hometown. 

It didn't take long for her to move from the causal position she started in September 1980. After a stint in pediatrics, early in 1981 she became full-time and moved to obstetrics. 

"There are actually only two departments I haven't worked in over the years," she says. "Those are public health and mental health."

"I've also been in emergency, the operating room, home care and everything else except the two I mentioned, you name it and I've done it," she says with a sense of satisfaction and dedication. 

While some nurses settle into one department, for Turpin moving around was a way to grow.

"When you keep learning new aspects of nursing and exploring new technology and techniques I think it enhances your ability,” she told the Aurora.

In fact, when Chemotherapy and Dialysis were introduced to the services provided, Tammy was among the first to reach out and acquire the skills for them. 
“My nursing career provided lots of learning opportunities, that over the years I've tried to give back," said Turpin.

She describes one of the joys of her career has been the ability to mentor young nurses and to pass along what she's learned. 

"Physicians and nurses in a setting like Labrador West were generous with their knowledge, and they taught me so much so the least I could do was to do the same to our younger nurses, after all they are the future of health care in this area."

With so many years in so many departments, it was hard for Turpin to recall special moments.

One of her fondest memories include delivering her first baby on her own, and then the last baby of her career only a few weeks ago.

Turpin says she still has contact with some of the babies she has delivered, and is delighted to see some of them have babies of their own.  

Nevertheless, she says there are very emotional moments as well she recalls performing CPR on a child, a stillbirth, and having someone she knew arrive in an emergency.

"But it's all part of being a nurse," she said.

One of the biggest changes she's seen in Labrador West is a big change in demographics. 

"Years ago you might see one or two heart attacks a year, now with an aging population they have become far more common. We have a population with lots of babies, and more and more seniors,” she said.

Speaking of babies, at the retirement ceremony the MC was quick to point out, that Tammy not only has an outstanding career as a nurse, but managed to raise four sons during that time as well.

When asked how that worked so well she simply said:

"In a nutshell, a break between the first two and the last two, a great husband, good babysitters, good friends, and good children."

"It's been an emotional time as I leave," she said. "The calls, the mounds of cards, wishes and gifts from staff, friends, and even patients who actually become friends."

"Not a single regret, it's a most rewarding career," she says of the 37 years of nursing.

Her final thought "It's not what you are it's who you are, that takes it from being a job to being a career you love."

A career that has touched not only her life but also the countless number of patients that have been in the care of Nurse Tammy Turpin in the past 37 years. 

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