Rivera and Lois Strang both grew up in South Jersey farm towns. And upon reaching adulthood, they took a leap of faith to study healthcare in the big city.
They took their talents back home to Salem Medical Center, formerly known as Memorial Hospital of Salem County. Both registered nurses have been working there since 1973.
"Technology's changed but people haven't," said Rivera. "They still need care and kindness."
Both nurses are admired for their leadership throughout the years. This was especially needed during the last two years when the healthcare industry faced a new kind of challenge.
"COVID really did a number on all of us. It really burned a lot of nurses out," said Rivera. "We lost a lot of nurses, but the need is still there. We still have to take care of each other and we need to be frontline workers to do that."
That's why neither nurse has retired after nearly 50 years.
"When you're raised in the community, you'd like to see the hospital continue to be here for the people in this area," said Lois Strang. " I've worked here since 1973 and I'm glad that I'm still here. Of course, I thank God every day when I get up that I'm still alive."
Strang and Rivera are both charge nurses who have a hand in creating schedules and aiding patients in the preoperative area. And with how many lives they have touched, the job has changed their own lives in return.
"Even at retirement, I would hope to still continue to work in some capacity," said Rivera. "I just can't see ending that part of my life completely. It's what I love."
To learn more about Salem Medical Center, visit their website.
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