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NURSES MARK 102 YEARS OF WORK IN UTAH

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Although public health nursing is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Utah actually has had public health nurses since 1891 - the Salt Lake City Health Department's inaugural year.

Beatrice Daniels worked in the field for more than 40 years.She graduated in 1933 from Holy Cross and went into public health nursing in the county.

"The very first case I went on - and you have to understand that I was city-born and bred - was to a very poor house," said Daniels, 80. "I went to the sink to wash my hands and had to climb up a pile of coal to get to the cold water. I thought that was rather a baptism by fire."

Daniels, who went on to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1961 and a master's in nursing administration two years later, spent the early years of her career as a visiting nurse. She would deliver babies and then return to the home for the next 10 days to make sure mother and child were thriving.

"I'd stay with a patient until she was ready to deliver and then call the doctor," she said. "Sometimes he'd come, and sometimes he didn't."

Daniels went on to become the county's director of public health nursing, and when the Salt Lake City and County health departments merged, she became its director. She held the position until retirement in 1977.

The efforts of public health nurses still center around well-child care, including immunizations, environmental sanitation and communicable disease control, said Sandee Oliver, head of the Utah Department of Health's public health nurses.

The diseases of a century ago, however, were different. Instead of diseases like typhoid fever, today's public health battles are fought against cancers, sexually transmitted diseases and cardiovascular diseases, Oliver said.