A familiar face at Stettler Hospital and Care Centre is set to say goodbye.
Longtime site manager Diane Palmer is ready to call it a career after just short of two decades working in the facility, and nearly five decades working as a nurse.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Palmer, reflecting on her career.
“I’m blessed to have such a wonderful career as a nurse. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye.”
With much thanks to the community which has supported the facility, Palmer has had a guiding hand in many of the numerous renovations which have occurred at the facility in recent years, concluding with the new kitchen and cafeteria set to open this fall.
In the years since she became the site administrator, things have definitely changed in health care.
Labour and delivery, for example, delivered around 60 babies per year when Palmer became site manager. Over the last decade, that number has increased to around 200 per year.
In the surgical theatres, Stettler Hospital formerly only had two surgeons who would make use of the facilities; currently there are 15.
When asked about the high point of her time at the Stettler Hospital, Palmer had no simple answer.
“The high point is how we got here,” said Palmer.
“The foundation donations. The effort for this community who works here … it’s so rewarding.”
Palmer had actually intended to retire sooner; however, for multiple reasons she decided to hold on for three to four extra years.
Just some of the reasons Palmer stuck around include projects such as the facility transitioning to Net-Care, the COVID-19 pandemic and the soon to be completed renovations.
“There is always something more,” said Palmer, before noting that now is the right time to leave.
“I want to leave on a high note. I know the facility will be in good hands. I know when I leave, the vision will continue for the facility.”
As for what retirement has in store for Palmer?
“Golf and travelling,” said Palmer.
Palmer plans to remain in the community but spend a lot more time with her children and grandchildren.
With Palmer leaving, Alberta Health Services has decided to rename the position title and the new administrator will have the title of Rural Acute Manager.
Set to fill Palmer’s shoes is Janet Chaney, who lives near Buffalo Lake.
Chaney has been a nurse for 34 years and has spent the last 15 in management positions in Edmonton, Camrose, Trochu, and most recently, Red Deer Regional Hospital as the Day Surgery and Recovery manager.
According to Chaney, she will spend some time working with Palmer to get to know the facility; she also noted that staffing challenges, operating theatre usage and generally working towards keeping the site viable will be her priorities to start with.
“There’s a lot to work on, and lot to continue,” said Chaney.