SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Nancy Page, Upstate Medical University’s chief nursing officer, retired Wednesday after nearly 40 years of caring for patients in Central New York.
The self-proclaimed “New York City girl” earned her nursing degree at SUNY Downstate, where she met her now-husband. The couple moved to Syracuse and she found a job at SUNY Upstate.
Page’s first assignment was intensive care for kids, where she’ll never forget treating a boy who’s heart was failing from physical abuse at home.
She recalls: “He started talking about the nurses at the bedside during some of these cardiac arrest events. We really felt like he was starting to go up to heaven, (where) could see everybody resuscitating him. But then he came back. It wasn’t his time. So, to hear that story, from, he was seven (years old). Seven. I still remember that.”
After almost 40 years, Page thought she had seen it all and considered retiring. Then, the pandemic hit. She knew her team of nurses needed her. So did Upstate’s 186 infected patients at the height of the second wave.
“I just remember that mark,” says Page. “If we get over 200… you just stopped yourself there. It was — but we got to think about the now. We’ve got to think about the now. We’ve got to think about today. Let’s get to tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow” came and so did the vaccine. Page was the first person to give a shot in the region. A moment that was broadcast live on NewsChannel 9 in December and is now memorialized in poster form in the halls of the hospital.
It won’t be her last shot, even in retirement. Page is offering to volunteer for Onondaga County’s Department of Health to keep vaccinating people.
Although, nursing on her own schedule will allow her to spend time with her adult children and grandchildren. All of the grown daughters she shares with her husband, a primary care doctor in Camillus, have also gone into the medical field.
Upstate staff members have celebrated Page for the last few weeks, including lining up in the hallway to applaud Nancy as she walked through.
“Having the pleasure leading this huge nursing work force, truly, was a gift I never saw coming my way,” Page says as she teared up.