Bernice Field supplements start-of-the-art procedures with her heart and soul to touch the sick and injured as an emergency room nurse at Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
“It’s a privilege to take care of people,” Field said. “All I can do is to do the best we can do for them. We’re not here to impress – just to make sure the people get the care that they need.”
Field was one of six Tenet Health System employees from 51 hospitals across the country representing 57,000 health care workers to be named to the “Tenet Heroes” recognition at a
The selection process for the Hero Award came from a compilation of letters that were written by Field’s peers at the Manteca hospital.
One of her supporters wrote: “She is always the calm, quiet presence in the midst of an often tumultuous day, going about her work unflappable with a steady confidence and competence. Her composure and ability to focus on the priorities of the moment are a skill to be admired.”
The letters pointed out that she truly excels at the bedside of the patient whether she is tempting children to take their medicine, counseling teens who are distraught and who have overdosed, or holding the hand of a scared elderly patient afraid of dying.
When confronted with agitated, fearful or demanding patients and their families, her greatest strength was said to be her ability to comfort and to support them.
A native of Newfoundland, Canada, Field has worked at 13 different hospitals throughout her career. The emergency room nurse said she learned the art of dealing with different personalities by virtue of being raised with six sisters and four brothers.
Field said she sees so many people coming through her department who have a lot going on and there are the older patients who have so many interesting stories to share.
“Look how many World War II veterans are left – not many,” said Field who has been at Doctors for 20 years. “But they come in here and are able to talk to us. The elderly patients tell us so much history about their interesting lives. Even the ones who can’t talk, because they have had strokes, the families fill us in on their past.”
She remembers having to cut the wood for the wood burning stove that heated their frame farm house.
“I remember getting up in the winter with snow on the ground, but the sun was out and the porch door was open to let some fresh air in,” she recalled. “That’s why even now when I clean patients, I never go in and say I’m cleaning you – but rather we are going to freshen you up.”
In high school her passion was to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but they didn’t take women.
When she graduated from nursing school in 1975, she tried to become a Mounty once again, but was then told she was too short.
“Oh, I would have looked so good in that red uniform,” she chuckled.
Her boyfriend who would later become her husband worked as a forestry officer in British Columbia. He later relocated to California and went into law enforcement, today working as a sheriff’s homicide detective.
“I did my initial foundation of nursing in Newfoundland and then on to Australia and worked my way around Australia for two years, then traveled through New Zealand, Fiji and then back home to Newfoundland.”
She worked as a nurse in her native country and then went on to Scotland for a summer vacation and returned home only to drive across Canada. She served as a nurse on Vancouver Island, then moving inland to British Columbia. Field went on to Saudi Arabia and worked in the mountains just shy of two years – leaving there before she turned 30.
With her boyfriend having moved to California in the meantime, she went back to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia working there again as a nurse. It was in 1988 that she joined her love in Bakersfield, later moving north to Modesto “and all the rest is history,” she chimed.
Before coming to Manteca she was in the emergency room of the old City Hospital in Modesto before it closed its doors. “I was the last nurse on duty who cleaned out the emergency room,” she remembered.
Field has told her nurses they have to “blend with people” especially with the emergency room doctors.
“It’s like having a new husband. They have different quirks,” she said. “But we are his eyes, his hands, everything. We’re an extension. He relies on us just the same as we rely on him, and he’s in charge – he’s the boss.”
One doctor overheard her talking to her nurses and she quoted his teasing response: “Oh yeah, try being me, coming in and having five new wives every day.”