Nursing at Littleton Hospital: Through the Ages

Nurse Stories

Ann C. Wiggett, R.N.

Ann C. Wiggett, R.N.

Ann C. Wiggett was born in Plymouth, NH and grew up in West Thornton and Lincoln. She worked as a registered nurse (RN) at Littleton Hospital for 54.5 years. Right after high school, Ann went to UNH for one year. She quickly changed paths, deciding on a nursing career. She moved on to the Elliot Hospital School of Nursing, Manchester, NH, and graduated from this three-year diploma program in 1958. She received the Caritas Christi medal upon graduation which indicated she was second in the class and was "an all-around nurse." Ann's first year of work as an RN was in the Operating Room of the Elliot Hospital.

Ann returned to UNH in 1982, and obtained a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Health Administration. At Littleton Hospital Ann appreciated the influence of Evelyn Fitch who was her 3 to 11 supervisor. Evelyn set a great example to the nurses, as she thought all patients deserved "tender loving care".

One of Ann's fondest memories of working at Littleton Hospital was being in the OR with Dr. McDade. There were times when birds would come close enough to a window in the OR to allow identification. Dr. Harry McDade, the consummate naturalist and teacher, would teach OR staff about these birds and the finer details to distinguish one species from another. Ann also recalled Dr. McDade yelling orders during a disaster (drill) at the time when the Green Berets were training at Cannon Mountain. She was always impressed with the camaraderie and team spirit at Littleton Hospital. There was always such a willingness to help one another.

Ann witnessed many changes over the course of working at Littleton Hospital for over 54 years. When she started working at Littleton Hospital in 1959 she had to sharpen needles, wash, dry and powder gloves before sterilizing the needles, make up surgical packs, wash and sterilize surgical instruments, prep surgical patients and sometimes help with obstetrics. At that time (1959), Littleton Hospital had 49 beds, with OB, med/surg, OR, lab, x-ray, dietary and ER. When working the 3-11 shift, one medication nurse was responsible for administering medications to all patients on the one large med/surg floor - an enormous responsibility.

In 1975 a new ER was added as well as new operating rooms, new med surgery, new OB unit and a new Intensive Care Unit (ICU). At this time Ann was one of three nurses sent to Boston and Burlington to learn cardiac care in preparation for the new cardiac care unit at the hospital. Also at this time, Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, NH began sending oncology physicians for monthly clinics. As the volume of oncology patients increased, the hospital hired an oncology physician, allowing daily oncology clinics and administration of chemotherapy more frequently. The next big change came with the building of a whole new hospital in 2000 the year 2000. Keeping abreast of major changes in the healthcare industry, the new hospital has fewer beds, but far more outpatient services.

Ann would like to leave the next generation of nurses with a few thoughts that guided her through a long, rewarding career at Littleton Hospital. She thinks it is very important for nurses to carefully listen to patients. She wants today's nurses to remember the importance of observing patients; especially in these times when so many processes are automated. She feels that TLC is essential to getting the patient out of the hospital quickly. From Ann - take the time to give back rubs, leave the call bell within reach, and be sure the patient's water is fresh.

Interview, January, 2019

Patricia (Pat) Campbell, R.N.

Patricia (Pat) Campbell, R.N.

Pat Campbell worked as a registered nurse (RN) at Littleton Hospital for 24 years. She worked on both the Med Surg floor and the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU). Having lived in the North Country since 1970, Pat graduated from the Lynn Hospital School of Nursing, located in Lynn, MA in 1954. Although Pat did not originally plan for a career in Nursing, when she completed high school, her father's health was not good. He informed Pat that she could either become a secretary or go to nursing school. Pat chose the latter, at a total cost of $200.00 for three years!

Pat always looked tidy in her nurse's cap and uniform. She was one of the last nurses who wore a white uniform at all times. According to Pat, the physicians liked to have the nurses wear their caps, as it set them apart from other staff wearing similar uniforms. Pat was a great role model for the nursing students from the Berlin Tech School (now White Mountains Community College).

The employees at Littleton Hospital were a family. In Pat's words, "the Hospital was a community working together for the purpose of the patient. It was the people's hospital." She recalls working closely with Drs. Bishop, Gale, and Monroe, and the stimulating experience of rounding on patients with Dr. McDade, a wonderful teacher.

Pat's greatest challenge of her work career was going back to school as an adult for a four-week course to learn cardiac care at the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover, NH. As Littleton opened its cardiac care unit in the early 1970's, Pat cited how technology dramatically changed how nurses cared for patients, with the advent of cardiac monitoring; and improved diagnosis of heart conditions, combining use of the treadmill with the cardiac monitoring (known as a "stress test.") Pat noted that Dr. Robert Gale performed the first stress test at Littleton Hospital - on himself.

Pat still lives in Littleton, NH with her husband, Tom. They are both active volunteers at Littleton Regional, and participate in many events throughout the community. Pat and Tom also enjoy visiting with family both near and far.

Toni Thomas, RN

Toni Thomas, RN

Toni was born in Berlin, NH, and lived in Berlin until she moved to Littleton in 1969. She attended Nursing School at the St. Louis Hospital School of Nursing in Berlin from 1964-1967. Toni Thomas worked in multiple roles as a nurse at Littleton Regional Hospital from 1970-2011. Beginning as a staff nurse on Med/Surg, she also worked in Obstetrics, Emergency Services, and ICU. She worked her way up to a nurse manager on Med/Surg, ending her career with four years in Quality Services. Toni cited that she always cared deeply about what was best for the patients, and that she was able to give them the best care possible, as Littleton Regional gave her the tools she needed to perform high quality work.

In her retirement, she and her husband are enjoying some travel, spending time with grandchildren and having plenty of leisure time. She takes pleasure in social time with old friends and has made many new ones when interacting with her children, grandchildren, and their friends. Toni volunteers at the hospital one day a week. She is glad to be able to give back to the place that gave her so much during throughout her career.