When Ann Lee, a long-time nurse at Good Samaritan Society – Howard in Howard, South Dakota, was deciding on a career, she followed in her mother’s steps and chose nursing. Decades later, she’s still caring for residents.
“My mom was a nurse and I thought you either had to be a nurse, a teacher or a secretary, and typing was not my thing,” says Ann.
Ann has had connections with Sanford Health throughout her life. The Society partnered with the health system in 2019.
Ann’s mother graduated from Sioux Valley Hospital’s school of nursing in 1952 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sioux Valley Hospital later became Sanford Health.
Ann and her brother were born at Sioux Valley Hospital and all four of Ann’s children and grandchildren were, too. Ann’s son was even born in the same delivery room as his mother.
For Ann, nursing allowed her to care for family members, all in the Society nursing home that was built in her small hometown because local businesspeople made sure it happened.
“In the 1960’s, a group of people saw a need and met with the Good Sam folks, developed a relationship, and broke ground for a facility in Howard,” says Ann. “My grandmother was one of the people in this group.”
Ann’s grandmother was a cook at the center. Later, she became a rehab therapy resident and eventually came back to live at the center until her passing – all while Ann was working as a charge nurse.
Ann's mother also lived at the center and died there.
“Ann has held many residents’ hands during their last hours and has comforted many families, including her own,” says Jody Becker, administrator at the center.
Ann’s great-grandparents, a grandfather, and a great-aunt all lived and died at the center. A few other relatives – a grandfather and great-aunt received rehab therapy there before going home. And her mother-in-law came to live at the center from California.
Besides caring for family, Ann has worked alongside some of them, too.
“I worked with all my daughters. Sometimes it was my older girls and me in charge at night,” Ann states. “The youngest one worked nights with me, too. One night, I had a gallbladder attack and I told her to tell her dad I had to go to the hospital. So that was kind of a hair-raising thing.”
Local care and employment
Ann is grateful to work in her hometown and provide care for family and friends.
“I think just the fact that this Good Sam was built for Miner County residents and knowing they can have their families come and visit anytime and they know most of the people makes it easier for them,” Ann says.
The Good Samaritan Society makes a positive impact on the community in other ways, too. The center participates in the backpack program, provides community church meals, helps volunteer at sports concession stands and has a float in the annual homecoming parade.
As for Ann, the Society has a special place in her heart. Even though she retired from full-time nursing, she continues to pick up some shifts.
“Residents look forward to seeing her and enjoy visiting with her,” says Jody. “Ann is a strong leader and is compassionate with her co-workers. She treats every resident like they are her own family member and goes above and beyond in her job. She has been a beacon here.”