“Faith and Healing – Celebrating Covenant Health’s Century
Covenant Health would not be celebrating a century of distinction and achievement
if it were not for an equally important centennial taking place as well.
The first training school for nurses in Lubbock was established on January
25, 1918, in conjunction with Lubbock Sanitarium. Over the ensuing 100
years, the school has become the oldest hospital-based nursing school
in Texas. Its roots can be traced to Dr. A.R. Ponton’s decision
to move a nursing school from Post.
“The community of Lubbock is so blessed to have had Covenant School
of Nursing for 100 years,” said Karen Baggerly, vice president and
chief nursing officer for Covenant Health. “I don’t think
there’s even an awareness of how lucky we are to have such a high-quality,
high-caliber school in this area.”
In its early years, Lubbock’s newfound medical community would need
its own nursing school because of its distance from other schools and
demand for a growing number of well-trained nurses. Nursing was a perfect
way for women to move into the workforce at a time when there were not
a lot of other employment opportunities.
“Early pioneer nurses would be very impressed and very proud of where
our school is today,” said Alicia Anger, who serves as dean of the
Covenant School of Nursing. “We continue to have a strong presence
in our community. We continue to emphasize the healing hands of Christ.
We meet the needs of our community, not just when they enter our doors,
but out where our community exists.”
Nursing has changed substantially over the decades but providing compassionate
care for patients has never varied. In the early days, the Lubbock Sanitarium
nursing school required students to be 18 years of age, in good health
and not be married. There were no male nurses at this time, and all nurses
wore white from head to toe and were meticulous about their appearance.
“Nursing started years ago with white uniforms and white hats,”
said Susan Sayari, who has been a nurse for more than 30 years. “The
RNs (registered nurses) had the black stripe on their hat, and everyone
had their nursing pin that they wore. You did not see a nurse in the early
days who wasn’t in white with the white starched uniform. White
hose, white shoes, everything polished, shoestrings washed.”
Educational standards for nurses became increasingly more standardized
and stringent in the 1920s when a statewide report indicated training
and expectations were uneven depending on the number of instructors and
class size. A year later, new standards emerged, setting minimum requirements
for nursing schools depending on number of beds and average daily patient
census. Another guideline required graduate nurses to be in charge of
each floor, department and annex of a hospital. The changes provided momentum,
control and credibility for nursing schools.
“A great nurse requires a variety of attributes,” Baggerly
said. “I think a great nurse obviously has to have clinical skills.
A great nurse has to have critical thinking skills, be able to utilize
good judgment. Most of all, a great nurse has to have a big heart. There
has to be a desire to really meet patient needs and to be willing to connect
with patients on a different level.”
In the early days of the school, most women entered straight after high
school graduation. There was the appeal of free room and board, a modest
salary ($15 per month at some places) and training in a profession that
would be beneficial throughout one’s life.
"Faith and Healing - Celebrating Covenant Health's Century of
Caring" will be available for purchase early 2018.