Last updated: May 25, 2011
December 7, 1988
The Florence Nightingale of Lusk will be honored this Sun. at the hospital
Edith Culver, the "Florence Nightingale" of Lusk, will be honored this Sunday at Niobrara County Memorial Hospital for "years of dedicated service to the sick and the community."
Culver, an R.N. at the hospital, has been involved in nursing for more than 45 years, dating back to 1941, when she graduated from Mercy Hospital's School of Nursing in Denver.
And like the real Florence Nightingale - considered the founder of modern-day nursing who became famous for her care of wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War - Culver has had to make personal sacrifices in caring for the sick of Niobrara County.
Her biggest sacrifice was not being able to continue her education in nursing.
"That's something I've always wanted to do," she said of furthering her nursing education. "When I graduated (from nursing school), I originally planned to come back to Lusk for a couple of weeks and go back to school."
But, as fate would have it, the now defunct Spencer Hospital in Lusk needed a special duty nurse and Culver answered "the call for help."
From then on, it seemed she continued to answer "a call for help." Over the years, she cared for her sick mother-in-law, the late Hattie Culver, worked for the late Dr. Walter E. Reckling and the late Dr. O.E. Torkelson at what was then The Lusk Hospital.
In May 1969, she joined Niobrara County Memorial Hospital, where she's been a living landmark since. Just ask Hospital Administrator John Belecky.
"She's a lovely lady and I don't think you'll find anyone more deserving" of an honor or award, Belecky said.
"She's been a very stabilizing factor...someone I can rely on, call upon and one who can answer questions readily, concisely and in a friendly manner."
When Belecky came to the hospital a year and a half ago, he said Culver was a big help "to me during the transfer" of hospital administrators.
She's also been the hospital's "jack of all trades," so to speak, overseeing and coordinating a variety of programs, including childbirth preparation classes for couples, CPR an the training of emergency medical technicians. And, over the years, she's served in just about every medical department imaginable.
But don't expect her to take any credit. She's not that type of person. She prefers to stay in the background and just "do my job."
"I don't want any credit or honors," said the modest lady of 68, who, over the years, also found time to marry the late Buck Culver and raise a family of five children, including twins.
"I just love nursing. It's my life," she said.
The only reward she expects is the "satisfaction of knowing you've helped someone to feel better."
But Niobrara County Memorial Hospital and its Board of Trustees believes she is entitled to much more. After all, every landmark needs to standout from time to time.
As a result, the hospital will honor her this Sunday with a public open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m at the hospital.
The Town of Lusk also is honoring her. City/County Planner Don Whiteaker this week proclaimed Edith Culver Day for this Sunday.
Despite making some sacrifices, Culver said there have been rewards during her career. As a matter of fact, the rewards have far outweighed the sacrifices.
"One of my more gratifying experiences came in helping young couples learn about childbirth," she said, referring to the Prepared Childbirth classes she taught at the hospital for more than 11 years.
And, though she may not go down in history books as the real Florence Nightingale did, Edith Culver will always be a part of Niobrara County's medical history.
And, by the way, don't look for the final chapter in that "book" to close too soon. If Culver has her way, she'll be walking the halls and caring for the sick at Niobrara County Memorial Hospital for some time to come.
"I haven't decided yet." she said, adding: "There's such a shortage of nurses nowadays."
Spoken like a true Florence Nightingale.
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