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Longest-Serving Employees Spotlight | Mary Ellen Snyder, RN

April 23, 2019

{DKH Longest-Serving Employees Spotlight}

In celebration of 125 years of service, DKH is showcasing many of our longest-serving employees who have dedicated 40 or more years to our organization. Here’s a chance to get a more personal look at the people woven into the history of your community hospital.   

This month we recognize Mary Ellen Snyder, RN with Day Kimball Medical Group OB/GYN, who began working at DKH in February 1973. Mary Ellen was born into a Navy family in Washington, DC, is one of 11 children, and was a twin! She has lived in Boston, Hawaii, and Virginia, before finally settling down in Eastern CT.

“It is interesting to see all the changes that have taken place at DKH, particularly in nursing, throughout the years. When I started working at DKH we only had incubators, no monitors in the Nursery, and had just started using fetal monitors in the labor rooms. Mothers labored in a 4 bed unit and we did not perform epidurals yet. Nonetheless, we were always on the cutting edge of nursing and medicine. We were among the first to have fathers present for deliveries – most hospitals had not done that yet.”

Read on to learn more about Mary Ellen, including what inspired her career choice and more in this spotlight.

#DKHTurns125 #DKHEmployeeSpotlight

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What sparked your interest in healthcare? I wanted to be a baby nurse since I was a little girl after reading something about the New York Foundling Hospital.

Where did you receive your education? I received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Annhurst College in Woodstock, CT. I went on to receive a license as a registered nurse from St. Vincent’s College School of Nursing in Bridgeport, CT.

Do you remember your first day of work at DKH? I remember that I shadowed the Assistant Director of Nurses, Lennie Gudmundson, for the day and almost passed out at a meeting we attended. My starting pay was $4. I was a nun when I started working at DKH. I had entered the convent after high school with the Daughters of the Holy Spirit in Putnam and remained with them for 14 years.

What roles have you had at DKH? My first job was as a Staff Nurse in the Nursery. About 2 years later I became Head Nurse in the Nursery. My role in the Birthing Center had many different job titles – Head Nurse, Assistant Nurse Manager, Nurse Manager – but I was mostly in charge of day to day operations on the Maternal Child Health unit and for a time for one of the medical-surgical floors while Pediatrics was being incorporated into that floor. 

Around 2011, I went to the newly opened Plainfield location to perform fetal monitoring testing for Dr. MacKenzie, who was the new DKH Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor at the time, and to assist with surgical office procedures that had been started there. In 2012, I retired from full time work and have been per-diem in the Day Kimball Medical Group OB/GYN offices assisting with phone triage and filling in for absent nurses to provide patient care.

What do you like most about your job? I love working per-diem and choosing my hours but mostly I enjoy the opportunity to interact with patients and to continue learning.

What do you like most about working at DKH? I think Day Kimball is a special hospital. I feel that patients are treated as though they are friends and neighbors even when they are not. The fact that sometimes they are makes it even more special. I have had several hospitalizations at DKH and the care was always top notch.

What is your proudest moment at DKH? I have many but I think my best moments were when people recognized me outside of DKH and thanked me for being present at their birth or in difficult times, such as caring for them when they lost a baby. One time I was in Human Resources and a woman asked me if I was Mary Ellen. When I told her I was, she said she recognized my voice and said she would never have made it through her difficult labor without my coaching and reassurance. Another woman told me that she was so grateful that I had cried with her after her baby was born with a serious birth defect. I don’t remember that but it is special to me that I helped her. Another proud moment was when one of the doctors who came on a transport team to pick up a sick baby told me that Day Kimball was the best level one hospital in the state and that our sick babies were cared for so well.

What is your fondest memory of your time at DKH so far? Having the privilege of assisting with thousands of births and caring for thousands of newborns. I would not have wanted any other career at any other hospital.

With this being DKH’s 125th anniversary, what do you think makes DKH so special? The fact that it has remained such a personal community hospital treating all patients like friends and family.

What might people not know about you? In 1984, I adopted a five-month old baby girl from El Salvador where I went alone to get her during a raging civil war. She turned out to have special needs and I still consider adopting her to be the best, most rewarding and hardest thing I have ever done.

What do you like to do outside of work? I travel, paint, cook, am involved with Special Olympics fundraising, and I am generally on the go all of the time. I have served on the Board of Directors of the Arc of Quinebaug Valley for many years and I am on the Board of the newly formed Arc of Eastern CT along with my daughter, Abby, who serves as the client representative to the Board.

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