Janesville39.2°

Longtime Mercy employee has no regrets

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
August 13, 2011
— Richard Dowd saw it all in his 55 years at Mercy Hospital & Trauma Center.

He comforted parents while their children were treated in the emergency room.


He consoled a patient whose head was scalped during a car crash.


He helped pass a patient through an ER window from an ambulance outside after the keys to the department doors were lost.


There were lighter moments, too, such as the raw egg he slipped in with his supervisor’s hard-boiled lunch eggs, the funeral director found sleeping in the morgue, and the nun who could crush a beer can with one hand.


Dowd, 73, of Janesville began working at Mercy on Aug. 3, 1956, a couple months after graduating with the first Craig High School class. He applied one day and was called to come to work the next with orders to buy white pants and a white shirt.


He was hired to be an orderly for the orthopedic floor and was assigned to a nun and eight patients.


“I was like today’s nursing assistants and gave complete baths. There were no showers, no air conditioning, and the doctors smoked in the hallways,’’ he said.


By the fourth day, he was on his own.


“I knew how to take blood pressure readings, pulses and temperatures, plus had to put linens away just right,” he said.


He worked every other weekend and took turns working holidays.


Although Dowd was ready to quit after only a couple days on the job, he changed his mind once he realized a particular nurse wasn’t being mean, she was just doing her job and making patients do what they needed to do to improve.


“I enjoyed taking care of people,” Dowd said.


Dowd was drafted in 1961 and served two years in the military. He returned to Mercy and continued to work as orderly.


By 1963, Dowd was a night emergency room security guard before becoming an emergency room clerk and later a medical records clerk.


“I liked every job,” Dowd said.


He said he would have worked another five years, but he fell and broke his ankle in February and wasn’t able to work. His last official day was Aug. 3.


“I enjoyed the people I worked with and became friends with many, a lot who have passed away,’’ he said.


The adjustment to retirement has been easy.


“I enjoy not having to be somewhere. The only place I have to be on time is at church,’’ he said.


Dowd’s three grandsons, who live with him in the South Pine Street house where he was born, keep him busy along with his five other grandchildren. His wife retired two days before he did.


Dowd enjoys his daily walks, already has taken a trip to Colorado with his family and is making plans for future trips.


Despite his retirement, his family still is well represented at Mercy. His son Jason works in customer relations, his son-in-law Tom Schneider works in IT and his niece Patti Roherty works in the kitchen.


Dowd said he has no regrets about working for one employer for so long.


“I was treated very well, here, and met a lot of nice, kind people,” he said.


“Luckily I came here. I guess that’s what I was meant to do.’’



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