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Recovery room upgrade at Medina hospital will honor beloved nurse

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 21 February 2020 at 9:20 am

The late Nancy Albanese was dedicated nurse for more than 40 years at Medina Memorial

Provided photo: The late Nancy Albanese of Medina will be honored by family and friends with a renovation in of recovery room at Medina Memorial Hospital.

MEDINA – Nancy Albanese loved every minute of her job in the post-anesthesia care unit at Medina Memorial Hospital, where she was recovery room nurse for more than 40 years.

After her death August 21, 2019 at the age of 89, her family approached hospital personnel and announced they would like to create a memorial in Albanese’s name.

“She lived and breathed this hospital her entire life,” said operating room nurse Kim Gray.

Soon after the word got out, people in the community started asking if they could also contribute.

“Although the family had planned on funding most of the project, when they were made aware of the interest in the community, they realized more could be done for the unit and they didn’t want to turn down this opportunity,” said Heather Smith, director of the Orleans Community Health Foundation.

The hospital plans to renovate the recovery room unit where Albanese worked, and create a more aesthetically appealing atmosphere for patients, Smith said. Medina Memorial plans to paint and install lockers so patients have a place to lock up their belongings. They are also going to purchase a new nurse’s desk and chair, new privacy curtains and storage cabinets. Additionally, they would like to install new lighting and flooring.

To date, more than $12,000 has been raised of the $30,000 goal.

Smith said the family is really touched by the community’s response to news of the memorial.

The idea for the project was suggested to the hospital by Albanese’s brother, David Shanely of Orchard Park. The hospital has met with him and Albanese’s daughter, Mary Thomas, who lives with her husband Michael in New Hampshire.

Gray was 10 years old when she first met Albanese.

“My mom was a secretary and worked at the hospital,” Gray said. “When I was in nursing school and had to have my test for TB read, the college said if I knew a nurse who would read it, I wouldn’t have to drive all the way in to Buffalo, and Nancy did it.”

Albanese became a mentor to Gray, who was feeling overwhelming in nursing school.

“Nancy asked me how nursing school was, and I started bawling,” Gray said. “I told her I didn’t know if I could do this. She encouraged me and told me I could do it. She would touch base with me on a regular basis. She said if I ever needed anything, she was there for me, or I could come over any time and just vent. After my grandparents died, Nancy became like a grandmother to me. We remained close, even after she retired and moved into the Willows. Because her only daughter lived out of state, the hospital became her second family. After she retired at the age of 84, there wasn’t a day when patients didn’t ask about her. She wanted to care for the community, and I want to be like her.”

“My mother’s siblings and I knew how much she loved the hospital,” said her daughter Mary Thomas. “She lived for the hospital. In a sense, it was part of her. All those years growing up, I knew what a good nurse she was and how much she loved it. When people came out of anesthesia, she created a sense of calmness. She was the nurse you wanted there after you’d had surgery.”

Thomas said the hospital filled a large void in her mother’s life after her father died in 1986.

“She had a lot of friends and belonged to a lot of organizations, but the hospital was the biggest part of her life,” Thomas said.

Albanese was a member of the Association of Twigs, Tuesday Club, Beta Sigma Phi and Catholic Daughters at St. Mary’s. She served on the board of Hospice of Orleans County and the Medina Memorial Hospital Foundation. She was a 1948 graduate of DeSales High School in Lockport and Johns Hopkins University with a degree in nursing. She worked for many years for Dr. Angelo Leone until his retirement, then earned a registered nurse degree at Genesee Community College. She enjoyed playing bridge, knitting and baking.

The memorial to Albanese will feature a plaque outside the recovery room on the third floor of the hospital. All donors will be recognized for their contribution on the plaque. Special donor naming opportunities include four lockers at $1,000 each (donor’s name will be engraved on a plate on the door); and two storage cabinets at $3,500 each (donor’s name will be engraved on a plate secured to the outer frame of the cabinet).

Anyone interested in donating to the Nancy Albanese Memorial Renovation Project may go to www.supportOCh.org/programs and make their pledge. They may also mail a check to Orleans Community Health Foundation or drop them off at 200 Ohio St.

Work will begin as soon as the fund drive ends.

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