Tribute to Yvonne Laws


Yvonne Laws, RN, CPAN

October 23, 1943 – December 18, 2007


I wonder if any one of us ever realizes what a great legacy we leave to our community and our fellow man, simply by performing our profession.

I have a particular bias towards those who work in the healthcare professions, and I hope it is no secret that I believe in, respect, and value the very real contributions that the perianesthesia and perioperative team members make to the care of their patients during the course of their work day – and off hours as well.

It was my privilege to know and work with Yvonne in a variety of capacities as one of those very special team members who chose to make nursing her life’s work.

For those of you who may not know, Yvonne came to Kent General Hospital in 1981 – and I first met and worked with her on the 3-11 shift in ICU. This was back when the ICU was located where the current blood bank is on the third floor.

It did not take many of us very long to realize just how caring and dedicated Yvonne was towards her patients – and toward us – her peers. She had a most infectious laugh – and I smile now whenever I think of it and the joy she took in caring for her patients and their families. She was a staunch and fierce patient advocate for privacy and rest – and was most vigilant to her patient needs. She loved taking care of the most complicated neurosurgery patients especially – and was a wonderful resource to all of us with her gentle patience and clinical expertise.

Yvonne did this as a matter of course – as it was her work ethic and principles that supported her clinical skills and practice.

She and I took positions in the new PACU together in 1983 – when the new unit opened and two additional nurses were needed to expand the hours of the unit.

Yvonne took great pride in her work – and it showed.  She took this one step further, in that she made the commitment to expand her clinical expertise by choosing to become a certified PACU nurse – a proud CPAN. She was a study buddy and a staunch supporter to this very green PACU staff member and her encouragement helped to raise the bar for all of us. She was extremely well read – and chances are if you had a clinical query – she had just finished reading an article or a book on the topic – and could speak eloquently to it – or else steer you in the right direction.

When I decided to go back to school for my undergraduate degree – and would joke that I would not let myself read anything “fun” during the course of that two years – it was Yvonne who gave me a romantic novel to read in celebration of my graduation.

When the time came for us to expand our hours further and take ‘on call’ responsibilities  – Yvonne was among the first to help work out a schedule. Dedicated to the specialty she so loved, she was the first editor of the Chesapeake Bay Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (CBSPAN) Newsletter – and also served as the Historian up until her retirement a few short years ago. As the Eastern Shore District President for CBSPAN, she represented us at the ASPAN National Conference in Phoenix and Albuquerque. During that same time, she also served as the editor of the ESSPAN Newsletter, the Eastern Shore Trumpet. She was a mentor and gave support to many new members – embracing them as much as she embraced her specialty practice.

I will miss her laughter – her warm hugs – and her smile and nod of fierce approval. She always knew when to say just the right thing – at any given moment.

We had an occasion to have some construction done in our PACU some years back – and the contractor and his son’s company crossed our paths many times in the planning for the PACU changes. On one such occasion, someone in the group mentioned hoe proud the construction manager’s wife must be of the son working so diligently alongside his father. The father relayed that his wife had passed away – he losing his wife – and the soon losing his mother. We were all silent at this quiet solemn moment of sharing – and it was Yvonne who warmly and simply said – “well then I am sure she knows.”

It is said that nurses touch hundreds of lives – how true this statement is for Yvonne who cared for such a wide variety of patients during her tenure at Kent General Hospital.

When she retired – after 25 years as a nurse – caring for approximately 5 patients at a time in any given day – it is amazing to think that she would have touched the lives of roughly 32,500 patients over the course of her career in nursing.

She touched many of our lives, her peers, as well – and we shall not forget the difference she made to so many.

Her work and dedication to her profession speaks for itself, and I am grateful to have been her friend and her colleague. I can’t help but think our Lord also is every bit as thankful for her wonderful legacy and life’s work.

Chris Price, MSN, RN, CPAN, CAPA
Director of PeriOp Services
Bayhealth Medical Center