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Your Health
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Band of Sisters Honored at The Samarkand During National Nurses Week

Retired nurses, front row from left, Bess DeWitt, Alice Tooker and Joan Hotop; back row from left, Dorothy Burke, Marilyn Birchfield, Joyce Frederickson, Marilyn Sanchez and Lydia Alcantara at a Nurses Appreciation Luncheon at The Samarkand.
Retired nurses, front row from left, Bess DeWitt, Alice Tooker and Joan Hotop; back row from left, Dorothy Burke, Marilyn Birchfield, Joyce Frederickson, Marilyn Sanchez and Lydia Alcantara at a Nurses Appreciation Luncheon at The Samarkand. (The Samarkand photo)

National Nurses Week wrapped up on May 12, and The Samarkand did more than honor its dedicated staff of nurses with a Nurses Appreciation Luncheon. The community honored the 17 retired nurses who now call the faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community their home.

“Compassionate, dedicated and talented people tend to flock together,” Executive Director Ruth Grande said. “Our nurses at The Samarkand are gifts to their profession and to our residents. The retired nurses living at our community had extraordinary careers and they continue to inspire and share their talents long after their retirement. We are proud to honor them all.”

Jackie Castaneda, RN, director of the community’s Wellness Clinic, said she feels a kindred spirit with her band of sisters. Retired, yes, but these smart women, she said, are her biggest cheerleaders.

“Once a nurse, always a nurse,” she said.

Castaneda directs the community’s Wellness Clinic. Her focus is on helping Samarkand residents age in place.

“People want to remain vital members of the community and live independently in their homes for as long as possible," she said. "It’s my job to help them do that.”

Castaneda recently took over the Vial of Life Program, which for the past eight years had been managed by 85-year-old resident Bess DeWitt, a retired OR nurse. DeWitt, along with several other retired nurses, made sure residents had this box filled with pertinent health/medication information in case of medical emergencies.

“I guess you never really take off your nurse’s hat,” she explained.

Fellow resident and retired nurse Dorothy Burke, 91, assisted DeWitt with the Vial of Life program. She was part of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II.

“It was a unique time to be in San Francisco for a young girl. It was quite an experience, with all of those soldiers from the Army, Navy and Marines stationed there,” Burke said, adding that being a nurse was a “blessing” and taught her to remain calm under pressure and how to be a mother.

Along with a delicious meal prepared by Executive Chef Marc Seutin, guests shared nursing stories with one another and listened to praise for a job well done from the community’s executive director, Ruth Grande.

“We all agreed we are blessed to be part of such a noble profession,” Castaneda said.

National Nurses Week is a weeklong celebration of the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of quality care to their patients. This year’s theme, “Ethical Practice. Quality Care,” recognizes the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledges the strong commitment, compassion and care nurses display in their practice and profession.

— Wendy D’Alessandro represents The Samarkand.

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