Like so many others who make this community their home, Deanna Johansen came to Golden planning to stay for a year or so to work. Fifty years later, she is still here.
She was living in Alberta in 1965 when her sister, who was working at the hospital in Golden, told her that nurses were needed in town.
“I thought I’d be here for a year, well you see how that worked out,” she laughed.
Working at the hospital back in those days was quite different than it is today. Nurses were expected to work wherever they were needed in a small facility.
“In a small hospital you do everything. Geriatrics, pediatrics, maternity, cardiac care, surgery, whatever. I scrubbed in on operations when I first got here,” said Johansen. “It was pretty good. We did a lot of stuff that nurses in big city hospitals never get to do.”
Johansen was put in the position to deliver babies without a doctor present on multiple occasions, as only nurses were working at night with a doctor on call.
“One of the older doctors was a very picky dresser, so it took him a long time to get there. You had to be careful trying to judge when the baby would come, and often it would come without him there,” she said.
The hospital has changed a lot since those days, but not necessarily the way you may think. At one point there were 35 beds in the hospital, which Johansen says is partly because patients were kept there for much longer, especially new mothers.
Her career was exciting in Golden, but it was her personal life that motivated her to stay. After being introduced to one of the LPN’s sons, Ray, Johansen got married and started a family here.
“The first two years we were married, we moved seven times. Then we finally at the end of those two years we bought the house that we’re still living in now.”
The couple had two boys shortly after, and raised them in Golden. Johansen cut back to part time while the boys were young, but still had the occasional long shift or stretch of on-call time. Her record was 90 days straight of being on call at the hospital.
Although caring for patients remained her passion, Johansen moved into a different role as her career went on. She became very involved with the nurse’s union, and even rose to the rank of Regional District Chair.
“I was in charge during the strikes of ‘89 and ‘93. That was a fascinating position to be in,” she said.
Johansen retired in 2001, but by no means has she slowed down. A life-long learner, she has soaked up every bit of education she could, taking classes like painting, raku, silversmithing, and is currently learning how to write memoirs.
“I just love learning new things,” she said.