Residents share memories of Naeve Hospital

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 25, 2024

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A big piece of me at Naeve Hospital

“So many memories in that old building that started in 1947 when I was born there, and continuing in 1965. My first real job was secretary to the assistant administrator, Mr. John Kayfus. I’m not sure about the spelling of his last name. I was 17 years old, just graduated from Lake Mills High School in 1965. My duties were taking dictation in shorthand, typing, filing, the usual. The most fun part of the job was running the switchboard, which was right at the top of the front steps. I loved answering the phone calls coming in and directing them to patients, nurses or a specific department.

Since I was often the first person callers talked to, or visitors saw arriving at the hospital, I got to know many people and fellow employees. My favorite boss ever was Mrs. June Wells, supervisor of the business office. She would eventually be a member of the board, or in some higher office. She was easygoing, patient and taught me so much.  Believe me, I was so young, I tested her patience often.

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Here’s just one example — I called in sick one day, and not being too sick, I went to a local car dealership and tried out a bright red convertible. Fun!
The next day. Mrs Wells called me into her office. She asked if I was feeling better, with me assuring her I was. Then she said, “Well,  Laurel, when you call in sick, it’s not a very good idea to take the boss’ daughter with you driving around in a convertible.” She could have fired me, but didn’t.

My three sons were all born at Naeve Hospital. When the youngest was about 2, I returned to the Naeve Hospital workforce as a unit secretary. I worked in all the nurses stations, medical, surgical and maternity. I did that through the new hospital being built, assisting with the big move over there, through the tunnel. What an exciting day!

I loved my jobs at Naeve Hospital, the atmosphere and feeling like I was helping people. In fact, I went to nurse’s training to get my LPN license. Returning to the workforce once again as an LPN in postpartum and nursery. Most of the time, I was in the nursery, sometimes caring for eight or nine babies. I did that a number if years, sometimes floating to med surg. I did that for a number of years, leaving when my kids got into sports at school. I took a nonmedical job for many years, but my heart was definitely in nursing.

Returning to now named Albert Lea Medical Center in the mid 1990s as an LPN, I worked med surg, then the staffing office for a few years after I injured my back and eventually working in the Mayo Outpatient Oncology Treatment Center. All positions I worked at Naeve, and later ALMC, were very  rewarding, but the most inspiring and meaningful was working with patients and caregivers at the Cancer Center. They were so strong.

In all, from 1965 to 2003, I worked 17 to 18 years total at Naeve, It will always feel like Naeve Hospital. I loved my jobs there. There’s a big piece of me there.

— Submitted by Laurel Yost, Lake Mills


Berg family memories of Naeve Hospital

In 1930s it was common to have home deliveries, but Eleanor Johnson Berg had a big baby coming, who was too large for this petite woman. She was taken from her home in New Richland to Naeve Hospital in Albert Lea. After three days in labor, she had her son. Eleanor became my mother-in-law and her son, Odean, became my husband in 1961. Odean taught ninth grade English in Comfrey for five years. It was there in Comfrey where he met and married me, then Geraldine Sellner, in 1961. After marriage, we moved to Albert Lea, where I worked at Queen’s for two years, and Odean taught ninth-grade English.

Our first daughter, Terri, was born in 1963. Our second daughter, Mindy, was born in 1966, and when she was 4 months old, she got pneumonia and spent 16 days in an oxygen tent at Naeve Hospital. Dr. Leonard Ellertson was her doctor, and his son Loren, was in Odean’s English class. From there, Wendy was taken to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where we were told she had a congenital heart condition. She had open heart surgery when she was 4 years old. It was successful, and she is now healthy. Before Wendy’s surgery in 1970, I had our third child, a big boy, Jonathan, again a child too big for me. So I had problems and needed eight quarts of IV fluid and four pints of blood, again with Dr. Ellertson attending at Naeve Hospital. These were the days of going home the next day after delivery, but Jonathan and I spent five days at Naeve. Dr. Ellertson told Odean on the day Jonathan was born, “We almost lost a young mother today!”

All my children are now healthy, and I have four wonderful grandchildren. We had lots of worries in those early years, but I am so grateful for the doctors and nurses at Naeve and Mayo for their comfort and care.

— Submitted by Gerri Berg


Going four doors down to have a child

I was born on June 19, 1962, at 7.18 a.m. at Naeve Hospital. I was going to be going home with my parents to a home that was four homes east of the hospital. On the evening my mom went into labor my dad held out bringing her to the hospital until after midnight to save a day’s cost of being admitted as a patient. The next morning he walked the back yard and got to welcome his only son. My dad always smiled when he told this story.

— Submitted by Tom Jones, Albert Lea


Adventures of Barb and Tina

I worked at Naeve Hospital as a nurses aid 50 years ago in the early ’70s. I met a new friend, Tina DeBoer, also a nurses aid.

Naeve tried to schedule us apart as we had too much fun working together.

Once we were instructed to take a meal to a locked up patient, which required two aids. The patient kicked the bottom of his meal tray and the food went flying. He darted past us.

The nurse told Tina and I to chase him, and she would call the police. We chased him from Naeve all the way to the park at the end of Broadway.

His hospital gown was only tied at the neck. I can still remember chasing after his bare bottom, his gown flapping in the wind. At the park he laid in the grass — he surrendered to the police.

As the mother of four children, my endurance must have been built up to run that far!

— Submitted by Barb Springborg