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Retiring radiology manager instrumental in bringing new technology to JRMC

Diane Nelson found her calling in a book of occupations. Fortyfive years after "falling into radiology," she's seen the department at Jamestown Regional Medical Center grow from two X-ray rooms and a darkroom to an eight-room area with state-of-t...

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Diane Nelson, radiology manager at Jamestown Regional Medical Center, will be retiring after 45 years of service. Nelson has been instumental over her tenure in bringing new equipment and technology to the hospital. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Diane Nelson found her calling in a book of occupations. Fortyfive years after “falling into radiology,” she’s seen the department at Jamestown Regional Medical Center grow from two X-ray rooms and a darkroom to an eight-room area with state-of-the-art technology.

Nelson, the radiology manager at JRMC, is retiring at the end of April after 45 years at the hospital.

Nelson started at Jamestown Hospital in 1972 as a radiology technologist and became the radiology manager in 1990.

“It’s been wonderful,” Nelson said. “I couldn’t have chosen a better career, it’s been a perfect fit for me.”

K.C. DeBoer, CEO of JRMC, said Nelson has been a strong leader for a long time and will be greatly missed at the hospital.

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“She has built the radiology department into what it is today with state-of-theart technology and a highly skilled staff,” DeBoer said. “The department is her legacy and we will continue to build on the foundation of high standards she leaves behind as she enters this next phase of her life.”

The field of radiology has evolved immensely, especially with digitalization of medical imaging, Nelson said.

“That’s the most amazing part, to be a part of that growth and history,” Nelson said. “The opportunity to learn has been huge.”

Nelson said the department has always had a lot of support from the administration and board. When asking for new equipment, the big thing is to show the need, what it can offer to patients, and how it will help with diagnosis, she said.

“What that adds up to is to be able to offer to our patients what they wouldn’t normally be able to find in a facility this size,” Nelson said. “I’m very proud of that.”

Advanced technology gives JRMC the ability to not only compete with Bismarck and Fargo, but also placed the bar in some cases, Nelson said. JRMC was the first hospital in North Dakota to offer 3-D mammography, she said.

Ricki Ramlo, chief operating officer and human resource manager at JRMC, said as the radiology manager, Nelson is one of the main engines that drove the advancements to ensure patients at JRMC were provided the same level of care at any major institution.

“On a number of occasions, Diane recognized new technology would save lives,” Ramlo said. “Diane lobbied and educated on the merits of the technology advancements to ensure that patients in our community would always have the very best.”

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She has built the radiology department into what it is today with state-of-the-art technology and a highly skilled staff.”
– K.C. DEBOER, CEO, Jamestown Regional Medical Center

Growing

The radiology department has grown from three people when Nelson first started to 10 technologists and two clerks. Nelson used to split time between manager duties and patient care, but the department has changed to need a full-time manager, she said.

Greg Nordstrom, radiology technologist, first came to JRMC in 1994. Since Nelson has not only been the manager, but also a technologist, she understands the work the department is doing, Nordstrom said. Nelson taught him there’s always more than one way to do things, he said.

Nelson also takes the on-call shifts, when she will come into work when a technologist is not regularly scheduled, which is nice for the people in the department who have kids, he said.

“We’re going to miss her,” Nordstrom said.

When Nelson’s kids were growing up, she would always be studying at their wrestling meets, Nordstrom said.

Nelson said it has often been a struggle to balance work and life, especially when her kids were young. Nelson had four sons within five years and still worked full time, which was challenging, she said.

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“I have been blessed by being married to a saint, who’s always made sure I can do what I needed to do, taken care of things and taken care of me,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she typically works 10- or 12-hour shifts during the day, as well as coming in on weekends and call shifts. It can be a struggle to work a call shift at night and come in for the regular shift the next day, she said.

“I’m a little bit strange because I really like taking call,” Nelson said.

Radiology works with all the other departments in the hospital and not only has its own appointments, but those that come in through the clinic and emergency room, Nelson said.

“There are so many ways radiology can help patients,” Nelson said. “I think it’s a huge component in care.”

Some of the major traumas stand out to Nelson, which can be particularly heartbreaking, especially if there’s a death. Celebrating with a patient who has gotten better or when an early diagnosis contributes to a positive outcome also leaves an impression, she said.

“It has been an amazing experience, and I don’t think I’ve had one day like any other,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy the people I work with, the technology and the interaction with patients.”

Nelson said she will initially feel her way into retirement, and is planning to work in her yard and spend more time with her family, she said.

“It’s going to be hard to leave but it’s always going to be a part of my life,” Nelson said. “I’ll miss it, but my family is excited to have me.”

kfairbanks@jamestownsun.com

(701) 952-8453

Related Topics: HEALTH
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