'I always wanted to be a nurse'

Mallane bids farewell to Rhode Island Hospital

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Dorothy Mallane celebrated her retirement after more than five decades of nursing at Rhode Island Hospital, and a fellow veteran nurse was on hand to offer his congratulations.

“This is truly a special day for me,” Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena said as he greeted Dorothy “Dottie” Mallane – along with her husband, Steve Mallane, and daughter Toni – inside his Town Hall executive chamber. “Congratulations Dottie, for your extraordinary work spanning five decades.”

Polisena then added: “As most people know, I’ve been a nurse for 32 years, but I don’t have the tremendous track record you have compiled, Dottie. Again, I’m honored to have you here and offer sincere congratulations upon your retirement as a registered nurse.”

The mayor, who is also an associate professor at CCRI where he teaches emergency management, then put on his reading glasses to say: “It is with deep appreciation to recognize you for your unwavering dedication, diligence and unselfish commitment in the field of health care. You have distinguished your craft. Therefore, representing all the citizens with the town of Johnston, I hereby offer sincere gratitude and praise, with best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.”

Polisena also marveled about the long route Dottie Mallane traveled before she married her husband Steve – who is one of New England’s best-known volunteers in helping cancer victims – prior to settling in Johnston.

After her dad’s passing in 1966, Dottie moved to Rhode Island from Washington, D.C., with her mother and enrolled at Cranston High School East, from which she graduated in 1967.

Dottie enrolled in the Rhode Island Hospital Nursing School in 1967 and graduated in 1970.

“Dottie worked hard and certainly gave Rhode Island Hospital their money’s worth,” Steve said. “I’m really proud of what she accomplished.”

During her early years in nursing school, students were required to live at the former Lying-In Hospital – and as she mused the other day “we even stayed at the IMH,” although during what she called rotations, “we were allowed to go home on weekends.”

She then recalled her first job of working two weeks of nights and four weeks of days as well as every other weekend and holidays.

Dottie spent the first 31 years of her career working the floors, but the last 19 were in the operating room. Her worst nightmares, as she recanted, were the traumas people sustained. Yet, as Dottie noted, “we worked as a well-oiled machine and everybody had their jobs.”

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” said Dottie. “I loved the adrenaline rush of my career and the hustle and bustle of the operating room. The nurses in the OR were like a family; everybody watched out for each other and there was also someone there to help. I made a lot of great friends during that time.”

There was a time when she even worked at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where she loved helping children.

“I loved all my patients when I worked on the floors,” she said.

There were times, though, that she called “our saddest moments, and that’s when we lost a patient.”

Dottie said after 50 years it was her time to retire, and she added with a wide smile on her face: “Time for you young kids to step up to the plate and take over!”

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