One way to get to know people is to learn what they love. Some love nature and the wild, others love books and warm mugs of tea. Nurses are a special lot — they love helping people feel better. That’s true of Wanda Schummer, RN, but she also has a special place in her heart for the City of Sturgis and the people that call the place home.
For almost 50 years, Wanda has worked at Sturgis Hospital. She’s called the City of Sturgis her home even longer. “I grew up in Sturgis, and I went to school here. We raised our kids here,” Wanda explained. “We did move into the country, but I consider Sturgis my hometown. I’ve got so many links to the people here, including the patients I’ve worked with over the years.”
"The Sturgis Hospital is just part of my home."
Wanda is a clinical resource nurse, which is a subspecialty of registered nursing with a responsibility for coordinating nursing staff and overseeing the care of specific patient groups. For Wanda, those groups are endoscopy and pain management patients.
“Once a week two surgeons from Spearfish come over and we assist them with endoscopy, and we do pain management with West River Anesthesiology,” Wanda explained. “We’ve done pain management for about 10 or 15 years now, and I really enjoy doing that. The patients see me over and over again, so they know me. You develop a relationship.”
“You’re helping them feel better and they appreciate it.”
“I’ve had the privilege of being a member of the committee that’s developing the history wall in Sturgis Hospital. As I reviewed old photos and newspaper articles, I remembered so much of what has happened with our small hospital and how it has grown over the years,” Wanda said. “There were changes, but the goal was always to provide services to our community. I have worked with so many physicians, staff and patients over the years and each one has impacted my life.”
Wanda has spent her entire adult life serving the health care needs of Sturgis. She graduated from nursing school in December 1973, and started her nursing career in her hometown immediately in 1974.
In every small community across the country, you’ll hear kids talking about getting out of town — but not Wanda. She’s always felt that Sturgis is where she’s supposed to be. Growing up, her family owned and operated a western store downtown, Bob’s Saddlery. She got to know her hometown and the people who lived there by working and playing in that store. “There were more businesses downtown then, and it seems like there are more coming back now,” she said. “I may not live in town anymore, but this is where I do my shopping. I’m not running to Walmart — I go to the stores here in Sturgis. I think that’s one way folks can really support their community.”
In many ways, Wanda is ahead of the curve. Downtown revitalization is a growing trend across the country, and more and more people are becoming interested in a local economy, whether that’s by opening their own business or by spending their dollars downtown instead of at big box stores or online. Wanda has seen a lot of changes over the years, but she’s happy to see some of that enthusiasm for local business returning to Sturgis. “I think a lot of people want to see businesses flourish in their community, and if you don’t support them they’re not going to be here. To me, that’s a major problem.”
The times they are a changin’
It’s not just the community of Sturgis that has changed during Wanda’s tenure — the profession of nursing has evolved during her career as well. “If you go back to when I started, all of our records were on paper. We had a couple of nurses taking care of 20 to 25 patients, and we relied so heavily on our CNAs.” Wanda explained. “We did emergency surgery, we did deliveries. We did everything.”
In the span of her career, Wanda has had the opportunity to get to know her patients, and even to treat some
individuals who she helped deliver years ago, an experience that she has found both awe-inspiring and humbling.
“Sometimes you get to see the impact you’ve had, and that feels amazing. It’s always been for the community — offering services for the people here,” she said.
Sturgis Hospital itself has changed before Wanda’s eyes. She’s seen the hospital change hands from Lutheran Homes and Banner, to private ownership and finally Monument Health. “A lot has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t is how much our nurses and other caregivers care about the people here,” said Wanda.
What’s next for Wanda
Wanda still finds satisfaction in her work, and she still feels fulfillment in providing patient care. Likewise, Sturgis still feels very much like home, and she’s happy that she can continue to enjoy it with her family. “I have nine grandkids, and my second great granddaughter is due this year,” she said. “They’re the most important thing, and I’m grateful that they all live in the area.”
And although she’s reached the point in her career and her life where many people might consider retiring, and maybe even heading south for the winter, Wanda has no plans or desire to make those changes any time soon.
“I love my job. I love where I work. I have a really great community that I get to work for, and hopefully I can do my part to keep everyone here as healthy as possible.”
Written by Wade Ellett
Photos by Bob Slocum