outfit amazed me. Startled me. I hadn't seen anything like that
She stood out in the crowd at the hospital because she was wearing
a white starched uniform, white starched cap, white stockings and
white shoes. The whole works.
She was quite a contrast to co-workers wearing colorful scrubs and
Nurses in white uniforms are about as rare today as nuns wearing
traditional black and white habits.
To tell the truth, I prefer the old uniforms and the old habits.
I like nurses to look like nurses, and nuns to look like nuns.
On the subject of nurses' apparel, I'm downright sentimental. My
mother's sister -- my beloved Aunt Rachel -- was one of those women
With her flaming red hair, my aunt looked stunning in her stark
white uniform. In cooler weather, she added a billowing blue cape
to her ensemble.
In her training as a nurse, she had learned well the lesson of how
to dress like a professional as well as how to be one.
I remember mother taking me to see her in the nurses' dorm next
to Memorial Baptist Hospital in Houston
and attending impressive ceremonies for capping and pinning. Years
later, the nursing school would be named after its director Lillie
Jolly, wife of the hospital superintendent Robert Jolly.
We heard so much about Lillie Jolly that she became a household
name in our family.
LJ expected nothing less than the excellence from the students,
emphasizing both academic achievement and high moral standards.
An old-fashioned school marm, she ran a semi-boot camp that produced
some of the best and brightest nurses in the medical community.
From Lillie Jolly, Aunt Rachel went on to Lillie-Duke. Longtime
Baytonians remember that name, Lillie-Duke Hospital, a privately
owned facility in Baytown.
In years to come she also would work - mostly as a surgical nurse
--at two other local hospitals, Gulf Coast and San Jacinto.
Before she married Delmon Wieser and while she was working at Lillie-Duke,
she lived with us. I was in junior high then and she was more like
a big sister than an aunt.
Remembering the care and pride she attached to her white dress uniform,
I can't imagine her ever going to work wearing polo shirts and scrubs.
I've heard theories about the demise of the traditional uniform.
One is that the feminists opposed the uniforms because they made
women look dependent and demure.
Not buying. That's just plain stupid.
OK, what's another excuse?
Similar clothing should be worn by all hospital employees because
there is a shortage of nurses. Make everyone look the same so it
is not obvious that most of the people are not nurses.
Are there any good reasons or occasions for not wearing the traditional
Yes, I think there are. For reasons strictly practical, emergency
room and Life Flight nurses have my permission to wear scrubs and
For other assignments, however, nurses should return to the old-fashioned
uniforms. The traditional attire commands respect and, in my opinion,
instills a sense of confidence in the patients.
And there's never any doubt about who they are.
Nowadays, with nurses dressed like bookkeepers and housekeepers,
one has to ask.
Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
3, 2017 column
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