Joan Bildstein has seen many changes in her 20 years as a nurse at Carroll County General Hospital, but one thing has been constant.
"I must say that from the moment I walked in the door at Carroll County General Hospital, it felt like home, and after all these years, it still does," she said.
Bildstein, 54, works in the Ambulatory Surgery Center. She becameinterested in CCGH when her family was preparing to move to Glyndon,Baltimore County.
"When we were getting ready to move into the house, I was debating about where I should work. I lived an equal distance from St. Joe's (Baltimore County) and Carroll County General," recalled Bildstein.
"I remember the real estate agent who sold us the house told me that Carroll County General was a nice community hospital, and I should look into it, and that's what I did."
She beganworking at the hospital July 28, 1971, and has watched in amazement at the changes that have taken place since.
Throughout the 1970s, Bildstein said, "It wasn't unusual to see on a Saturday night a helicopter transporting patients who were involved in car accidents to Shock Trauma at the University of Maryland Hospital. At that time we were not equipped to handle patients suffering from severe injuries.
"The instances of that happening now are minimal because we are better equipped and staffed to handle these types of injuries."
Not only has Bildstein noticed a decline in transfers, but an increase in patients, especially those who once left the hospital for treatment of heart-related problems.
"When I first came here there were only four beds in the coronary unit. Now there are eight beds and an ICU (intensive care unit) which is equipped with the best," she said.
Bildstein said the ambulatory surgery center, where she works, has seen the most change.
Before 1976, patients who were having surgery, would have to come into the hospital the day before and spend the night.
The ambulatory surgery center allows patients who need anesthesia to come in early in the morning and go home later the same day.
"The new ambulatory surgery area is beautiful. It has been in place since 1976," said Bildstein. "It has provided us with state-of-the-artequipment that allows a variety of surgeries which require anesthesia to be performed in one day. The changes in procedures and medications have been a benefit to the patients. This way the patients can go home to their own setting," she said.
The increase in hospital services and staff have benefited the community by offering patients theopportunity to stay in the county instead of transferring to anotherhospital for treatment.
Other changes have been less noticeable to patients than to staff.
At Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, where Bildstein received her nurse's training from 1954 to 1957, uniforms could be worn to and from work.
"When I came here in 1971, we could not wear our uniforms to and from work.
"We had to change in the locker room, which was down on the ground floor. I think the reasoning was that we could be carrying germs in and out of the hospital.
"It only lasted a couple of years, and then we were allowed to come back and forth in our uniforms."
After coming to CCGH, Bildstein noted that the working relationship between doctors and nurses was much more relaxed than it was at other hospitals.
"When I was at Mercy, we had a more formal relationship with the doctors," Bildstein said.
"I can remember when we would be sitting in a room and the doctor would enter we would stand up right away and always address them as doctor.
"Here at CCGH, the relationship between nurses and doctors is more informal. It's a comfortable relationship."
In the last 20years, Bildstein said, another constant has been the quality of caregiven by the Westminster hospital nursing staff.
"The care that has been provided by the nursing staff has never waivered," she said.
"The nurses here are truly professionals who are concerned about giving the best care possible."
Bildstein and her husband, Evans, have three children: Joseph, 32; John, 31; and Joanne, 23.