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June 20, 2010

Champlain Valley Hospital celebrates 100th anniversary

(Continued)

EXPERT CARE

In 1958, the school was renamed the Champlain Valley School of Nursing and was moved to Physicians Hospital. The CVPH School of Nursing opened when Champlain Valley and Physicians hospitals merged in 1972, closing Champlain College permanently.

The CVPH School of Nursing closed in 1979.

Kavanagh keeps in touch with the Grey Nuns, now based in Yardley, Pa. During the alumni group's annual meeting, some of the sisters return to Plattsburgh for the celebration, including Sister Pierette Remillard, formerly of Peru, who graduating from the School of Nursing in 1952.

"I worked the first two years out of school at St. Clair's Hospital in Schenectady and the next two years at Champlain Valley," the sister said from Yardley recently. "It wasn't until 1956 that I entered the convent."

After completing her early years of religious life, she returned to Champlain Valley as a Grey Nun and a registered nurse. She became head nurse for the operating wing.

"It was a small hospital, but we provided expert care for the community," she recalled. "I remember the first floor was the men's ward, and the second floor was the women's ward and maternity ward.

"The student nurses did a good share of the work, but the RNs were there to provide supervision."

With plenty of family still living in the North Country, Remillard returns to the area often. She is not sure if she will be here for this year's alumni banquet but said she was glad that Champlain Valley Hospital is being remembered.

When the two hospitals merged, Kavanagh stepped down from her nursing requirements and began teaching at BOCES. She did note that the switch from Champlain Valley and Physicians hospitals to CVPH Medical Center did go smoothly, and she did work in the new intensive care unit for a short period.

"Many of the nurses transferred over and are still there today," she said.

She still works in the obstetrics unit two days a week — she loves her work and can't imagine stopping anytime soon.

The building that housed Champlain Valley Hospital was demolished in 2009. It had been used by Plattsburgh State as a faculty office building, and the space is now being used for college parking.

"I watched them tear down Champlain Valley Hospital with great sadness," Kavanagh said. "They really had a hard time tearing it down, it was so well built. But now it's gone."

The School of Nursing still stands next door, however, now the home of the college's English and history departments, a seemingly appropriate continuation for a building that held such promise and provided the region with such stellar professionals.

E-mail Jeff Meyers at: jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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