Skip to content

Three nurses among the unsung health-care heroes

Three employees reflect on their experiences.

CARLYLE - National Nursing Week is celebrated from the Monday to Sunday of the same week as Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12.

This year, the Observer honours unsung heroes of the health-care system, continuing care aides and licensed practical nurses. Three of these workers are employed at the Moose Mountain Lodge in Carlyle.

Teresa Valentine is a continuing care aide (CCA) at Moose Mountain Lodge and has been employed there since 1987. She vividly remembers her childhood days.

“When I was 10 years old, I frequently visited my grandmother at the nursing home in Assiniboia,” she said. “I told her, grandma, one day I am going to grow up and help people just like you. And so I did.”

“The residents always come first, and I treat them like family. I want their quality of life to be the best that it can,” she added. “They truly cherish the little things every one of us do for them. From handing them a warm blanket, to brushing their hair, or painting their nails, our residents really appreciate the little things in life.”

Valentine is employed full-time at the lodge and takes on the occasional extra shift to help when needed. She has no thoughts of retiring and absolutely loves her job.

Her hobbies include quilting, grooming dogs and being a member of Bright Eyes Dog Rescue, a non-profit organization with a mission to rescue stray, abandoned and surrendered dogs.

Candace Humphries has been employed at the Moose Mountain Lodge since 1994. In addition to her full-time duties as a CCA, she also worked for 17 years in private care. In fact, during those 17 years, she was able to juggle her schedule and work at both.

“I love my job and I love my residents like they are my own family,” said Humphries. “I come to work every day hoping to make a difference in their lives.”

Over the years, the characteristics of residents living in long-term care has changed. “Twenty years ago, we were known primarily as an old folks’ nursing home,” she said. “People are now living a lot longer and are unable to care for themselves as they enter much later stages of life. And, we have a lot more younger residents who have all sorts of issues. Patients with mental issues such as dementia are far more prevalent.”

Humphries is still employed full time but doesn’t take on extras shifts as much as she used to.

“I love my job, but I also love my family,” she said.

Humphries has two sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren. She loves watching Landon and Rhett play hockey and Gracie play ball and figure skate, and spending time with Sophia. Humphries also regularly flies out to Ottawa to spend time with grandchildren Jack, Scott and Tom. She also enjoys fishing year round.

“I have a great group of co-workers at Moose Mountain Lodge, and it is a fun place to work. I am just doing my part to better the lives of the residents,” she said.  

Bertha Isleifson is a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She graduated from nursing school in 1985 and began work at the lodge as a CCA. She became an LPN in 2002.

Isleifson retired at a rather early age in 2018 and then decided to return in home care. She returned to LPN duties in 2020 due to chronic staffing shortages. She is presently offered far more shifts than she wants to work.

“My hometown was Montmartre and when I was 14, I was a candy striper at the hospital. I knew right then and there that health care would become my career,” she said.

“You truly get emotionally attached to your clients. Often, they are in the final stages of their lives, and I am there to comfortably aid them in their final journey. I truly work with a great team at MML and really enjoy my job and the staff. Health care is my passion.”

Bertha is married to Brian, and they have two children. Hillary lives in Red Lake, Ont. Ben and his wife Kyla have two daughters who recently moved from Alberta to Minnedosa, Man.

Isleifson is very active in Carlyle with community service work. She and a select few formed Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge in 2014 where she served two terms as its president. The motto of group is to help enhance the everyday lives of the residents. She is also the secretary of the Carlyle District Lions Club and is on the Carlyle Golf Club board of directors. Isliefson also belongs to the Cornerstone Theatre Group. Isleifson and her husband are avid golfers and thoroughly enjoy the companionship of their dog River.

Candy Bye is the resident care co-ordinator at Moose Mountain Lodge. She has worked with Valentine, Humphries and Isleifson and provided some insights. 

“Bertha oriented me on my first day of work 30 years ago. We were work wives for about 12 years working the same shift, being able to finish each other’s sentences.

“Bertha has a way about her that all the residents love her. She loves to joke around with the residents and goes the extra mile to make their day special.

“One of Bertha’s biggest accomplishments is her creation of FMML. She had a vision to start this auxiliary group to enrich the lives of MML and has accomplished that. We are certainly lucky to have her at MML.

“I have worked with Teresa for 30 years. She is a hard-working and efficient worker. She gives all she can to the residents. She is very kind and caring towards all the residents and if you need to find something in the building, she can usually find it.

“Candace and I started about the same time at MML. Candace is always willing to work a little extra if needed. She loves to visit with each resident. She is passionate about her work. Her kind and caring nature go a long way in MML.”