ED Nurse Celebrated for a Half-Century of Caring

Storm Treanor, RN is known to be as dependable as the next sunrise, with a passion for learning and teaching that burns just as bright. She is also as committed to the nursing profession as they come, and that is particularly evident with the incredible accomplishment Treanor has reached: 50 years of service at The University of Vermont Health Network-Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH).

In all that time, she has learned to be prepared for anything, except when it’s a surprise celebration put on by her colleagues in the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) to recognize her dedication and longevity.

“I was definitely surprised. I did not expect that,” Treanor said with a laugh and a big smile afterward.

There were smiles galore and plenty of applause from fellow ED staff on hand to congratulate her, and even a few tears shed by ED Director Gail Bjelko, RN as she recalled the many reasons she is grateful to work with Storm.

“The soft side of Storm is what I know best. The side of her that’s not afraid to educate a new nurse, hold the hand of someone dying, or sit and talk with a family member of a patient tragically injured,” Bjelko recounted.

Treanor was hired as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in January 1972, just months before CVPH opened at 75 Beekman Street in Plattsburgh. From there, she spent time in the ED and various leadership roles before returning to the Emergency Department in 2003, where she continues to care for her patients and co-workers.

“I’ve done so many things with my career that I probably never would have done normally if I hadn’t come here,” Treanor offered.

To this day, the veteran nurse remembers the first patients she took care of, several years before she arrived at CVPH, and how that experience sparked a career dedicated to caring for generations in her community.

“There were two young men who were involved in a motor vehicle accident in my hometown, and I was a nurse’s aide. They sent me in to take care of these two young men.”

“Now, here I am, a 17-year-old female, who’s going to take care of two 20-year-olds,” she continued. “From that point on, I never had a doubt this is what I wanted to do. The whole experience was so fascinating to me, I just loved every minute of it.”

From time to time, colleagues like to joke with Treanor about the fact that when she was starting her career in health care, nurses were sterilizing their own needles.

“That’s true. When I was a nurse’s aide, we were still sterilizing all needles. Two years later, when I started nursing school, we started going to disposable needles,” Treanor recalled. “I think there’s a lot that’s changed (in the nursing profession), and there’s a lot that stayed the same in caring for the patient. But I think that change is all part of growth. It’s all part of what we do to make things better.”

She has been committed to making things better by following her passions of learning and teaching. During Treanor’s celebration, a staff member commented on the impact Treanor had teaching a critical care class for folks who were just beginning to work in the ED. And that teaching role is just as important when she is with a patient.

“I’ve always enjoyed the education piece of it. The more I can teach you, the more I can help you understand what’s going on,” she explained. “I just think it makes your life better. And that’s really what brings me back every single time I come to work.”

Treanor is also a big believer in the idea that she must always continue to learn as a nurse to ensure that those in her care are always getting the best from herself and the hospital.

“I look at it as the more knowledge I have, the better it is for the patient. So for me, it’s learning from the physicians, learning from other nurses and from anybody I work with. I learn from my patients and from my husband’s hospital experiences. (That’s how I figure out) what works, what doesn’t work,” she added.

Treanor admits she’s planning for retirement, though that may still be a few years away. Even then, she is thinking about ways to continue teaching and helping her community, including potentially creating a class to help families navigate their way through the health care system. She also knows that whenever she decides to hang up that stethoscope and step away, it’s the interactions with her patients and co-workers that she will miss the most. For now, she’s just trying to enjoy every moment she can.

“Coming to work every day is like my mental therapy. I get to laugh and joke with people. I get to laugh at myself. And that’s what makes this fun.”

Surprise Ceremony Video