Fairview Retirees: Still Caring For Our Communities & Beyond

A little thing like retirement doesn’t stop Fairview Health Services employees from pursuing their life’s work. Many of our retirees return to volunteer with Fairview and continue their commitment to clinical care at home and around the globe.

Why do they do it? Just ask Donelle Heilman or Molly O’Brien.

‘Because there are things that need to be done’

Donelle, RNC, may have been retired, but she’s still caring for others.

After working 34 years at Fairview, primarily on The Birthplace at Fairview Ridges Hospital, she’s now volunteering for flu shot clinics and leading mission trips.

Recently, she led a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Fairview employees, along with Burnsville’s Prince of Peace Church and Doulos Discovery School.

“Fairview was amazing. We got unused supplies that were going to be discarded. Pharmacy gave us a grant, and they gave us meds at cost. Donations to Fairview Foundation also supported the trip through grants for individuals and funds for the program.”

Working in a makeshift clinic in a church that was missing an outside wall and needed a tarp to cover the top, her volunteer work wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was valuably fulfilling.

“We coached people on nutrition, including some who didn’t have any teeth,” she says, as well as the best ways to breastfeed and how to resuscitate newborns.

“Everyone was so grateful, even in these dire conditions. A very elderly man asked a nurse to marry him.”

Her volunteer work while in retirement “feels like continuing what I love,” she says.

At the end of December, Donelle says she renewed her nursing license “because there are things that need to be done.”

Retired twice, and still rising to meet needs

Molly O'Brien, Fairview Volunteer

Molly O’Brien, Fairview Volunteer

Molly’s retirement volunteer work sent her on a mission closer to home, and brought her back to part-time work.

“I’ve tried to retire twice,” says Molly with a laugh. Molly, an RN, worked for Fairview for 42 years, primarily in the emergency and trauma departments at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

“The first time was in 2010, but I came back as a trauma consultant for a few months, and now I’m working part-time in community health.”

During the past flu season, Molly was trained to be a lead nurse for the Minnesota Immunization Networking Initiative (MINI), sponsored by Fairview to provide flu shots at no cost to individuals in need.

Between October and January, she volunteered in 14 MINI clinics.

“I still want to give to the community, and the need is huge,” she says.

“It’s amazing, the number of families who need shots, but also basic health care, foot washes, toothbrushes—the simplest care.

“Vounteering for MINI clinics was a real first-person experience of the need I had heard about and experienced in a much smaller way in my professional life.”

In addition, Molly has used her emergency nursing skills as a volunteer on first aid teams at Habitat for Humanity building sites and the annual Heart Walk, among other events.

Opportunities to give back

Our clinical volunteers appreciate the opportunity to ‘give back’ to our communities in need,” explains Paula McNabb, RN, whose focus is program development and clinical volunteer coordinator for community health and medical missions.

“They also enjoy meeting other Fairview employees who come from many different sites and work in a variety of different roles. Volunteers often express that community volunteer activities help them stay connected to Fairview.”

Learn more about volunteering opportunities at Fairview: http://bit.ly/YBSP4l

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