Barbara Dobson, a registered nurse at Takoma Regional Hospital for more than 50 years who died Wednesday, was remembered this week as a “nurse’s nurse.”
“When you think of Barbara Dobson, many things come to mind – the quiet dignity, the shy smile and the ever-present white uniform,” Lori Dunn, a licensed practical nurse who serves as executive assistant to the chief nursing officer at Takoma, said Thursday. “And underneath those things, Barbara was so much more. She was a very strong woman and one of the bravest I’ve ever known.”
Dobson, 75, entered the nursing profession during the days of caps, crisply pressed white uniforms, white hose and polished shoes. Despite the changing times, Dobson held fast to her vision of a nurse, never exchanging the old-style uniform for today’s more relaxed scrubs and Crocs.
“I’ve never known anyone who was so selfless or so patient,” Dunn continued. “Barbara was a willing teacher and mentor to all. She freely shared her wealth of knowledge, her faith, and she always led by example. She is and will remain sorely missed.”
Dobson worked primarily in the hospital’s busy medical-surgical unit, a visible indicator of her dedication and stamina. Even in the last stages of her career, Dobson cheerfully switched from five 8-hour shifts to three 12-hour shifts, another sign of the changing times.
“Barbara wasn’t worried about the longer days or how it might affect her, just that she wouldn’t be at the hospital every day to keep up with how her patients were doing,” Marnie Knight, director of Med-Surg, said.
Dobson began her nursing career in 1957 at Greeneville Hospital, which is now Takoma Regional Hospital.
“I started at Greeneville Hospital straight out of nursing school,” Dobson had said. “I graduated on the tenth and started work on the seventeenth. I’ve been here ever since.”
Dobson was honored in 2008 with a “Health Care Heroes Award” given by the Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA in the category of support service. She was nominated by her peers and patients for her efforts to improve the quality of healthcare in our area.
At her retirement party at Takoma last fall, a special portrait of Dobson was unveiled, much to her surprise. The portrait remains hung near the nurse’s station on the hospital’s third floor, where Dobson spent much of her working hours.
“Barbara’s legacy is that she was what every nurse should be – from her dress to her demeanor,” Ruth Mathews, Takoma’s director of emergency care, said. “She was kind, loving and respectful, and she ministered to the whole body of her patients. She was also a teacher. She trained me when I came here 20 years ago. She was my mentor. She forgot more about nursing than most of us will ever know.”
Dr. Fred Myers, Takoma’s chief medical officer, first met Dobson in 1986. “She was a model of consistency and professionalism,” Dr. Myers said. “She was competent and compassionate, always ready to help. As the complexity of medicine changed through the years, Barbara always embraced the change.”
A viewing for Barbara Dobson will be held Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at Doughty-Stevens Funeral Home. The funeral will be held Saturday.