The value of a flour sack: the career of Tena Lyndon

Like Sophie Kettleson, Tena Lyndon grew up knowing the value of a flour sack. Her family arrived from Ireland in 1926 when she was three and her childhood years were spent in an environment with very little money.  The fact that everyone else was poor may have helped, but she still learned to be part of a family team -  working all the hours God gave to keep food on the table and shoes on the feet.

The home nursing care provided by Tena’s mother when any of the children were sick likely influenced the woman when she chose a career in nursing.  However, a bout with appendicitis when she was a teen, introduced her to Alice Keith, the matron of the Vermillion Hospital who helped her to make up her mind.

Finishing her training, Tena worked in a variety of situations--the Vegreville Hospital where she had trained, as the only staff person in the coal-mining town of Mountain Park, private nursing, teaching. In 1964, she joined the staff at the Norwood Auxiliary Hospital. It was a time when the focus for long term care was changing from custodial care to quality of life care, and nurses like Tena Lyndon made it happen.

Under Sophie Kettleson, by that time matron at Norwood, Tena was able to let loose all that compassion she had for the elderly or the injured. Only two years later she was asked to be matron of the newly opened Lynwood unit. Friends and colleagues talk about the eighteen-hour days she worked and the continuous efforts she made to improve the quality of the residents' lives. Raising funds was something she was particularly good at and when the Edmonton Police Association donated a wheelchair accessible bus to take residents to special events and outings, they called the bus, "Tena's Dream."

Many of the things that Sophie Kettleson and Tena Lyndon did for "their" residents have come to be part of what's expected at other long-term care facilities. Even as cutbacks and tight budgets have strained resources in these facilities, there are other Sophies and Tenas who are giving their patients the quality of life they deserve.

From People and Progress by John Patrick Gillese
SpacerAlberta Alberta Alberta