Orlando Health, Orlando Regional Medical Center – Orlando, FL.
My name is Faye Stine Whyte, I was born in Sparta, Tennessee... I was an Army brat. I lived all over the United States and in Germany for three years. And even after my father got out of the service, he still had the roaming bug. I went to five different high schools. I started high school in Wickenburg, Arizona then went to Hopkinsville, Kentucky for my sophomore year. My junior year I did one semester in Lewisburg, Kentucky. My second semester of my junior year, I went to northeast in St. Petersburg, Florida and I graduated finally from St. Cloud, Florida my senior year.
So you learned how to make friends.
I moved my whole life. I never met a stranger.
How did you get involved in nursing, were your parents in the medical field?
No, my father was a mechanic and my mother was a homemaker. But, I actually got into nursing school totally by accident. They came and announced it at St. Cloud and said that I could get an education for $1500. with three years room and board.
Betty Crocker Scholarship and Orange Memorial Scholarship
And I won a scholarship, a Betty Crocker scholarship for the state and it helped pay for my schooling. And then, for my last year, I got a scholarship from the hospital and that’s how I got my education.
What was the basis of the scholarship was it grades?
My Betty Crocker Scholarship was based on a test that I took about sewing and cooking from Home Economics which I had to take in my senior year. Because in the state of Florida you had to take certain courses in order to graduate. And I had been a geek. It’s the only way to put it. I loved Math. I loved Science. I took seven years of Math at my school. And when I moved down here I had to take Phys Ed because Band didn’t count as Phys Ed which it had in Arizona. And I had to take Home Economics in my senior year. So I was making my own clothes and everything else. I had to take it and I took a test and I won totally by accident.
Were your parents proud of you?
Actually, I wasn’t living with my parents because I had turned 18 that December. My dad was moving again. I said “I’m not moving.” I was living in a boarding house. I was supporting myself.
What was nursing school like for you?
I loved it! It was the first time in a long time that I was staying in one place for any length of time. And, I met my future husband. He was in the Air Force. And I ended up getting married after two years. And I stayed here and worked here at this hospital until ’71. And then I moved to Sarasota because my husband got accepted, and he was out of the Air Force, he got accepted into Ringling School of Arts so we moved to Sarasota.
What was your work like here?
I loved it! And I probably would still be working here if it hadn’t been for the fact that we moved for him to go back to school.
Double Master’s: Mental Health Counselor and Addictions
I enjoyed nursing. Completely. Totally. I did lots of things. If I got bored with something, I just went I and took more classes. I got my bachelor’s degree in my thirties and I went back and got a double master’s. My master’s is I’m a Mental Health counselor, and in Addictions from the University of South Florida.
And at the time you got your master’s, that was just coming into…
Well, there was a master’s, but I had been a supervisor for a number of years and they said, “If you want to stay a supervisor, you better get a master’s degree.” So I did and they paid for it. As long as I made an “A”, they paid 100%. So I got my master’s degree for nothing.
And your work in Addictions…
I opened up the Alcohol and Drug Unit at Sarasota Municipal Hospital in July of 1983. At that point in time, there was a lot of cocaine. There was big time cocaine. And they had a lot of treatments and stuff so it was a good time for addictions. And then it came where insurance wasn’t covering it again and then they closed a lot of the mental health facilities. And we’re really at that point now, mental health is terrible insurance-wise. It’s coverage is about 50% and we’re in a big crisis now with opioids. Terrible crisis.
For your work, in terms of your education and your experience, you know what works.
I do. I know what works. But, it’s like, what works is the person has to want it. And it’s something that you literally take one day at a time for the rest of your life. And, there’s never I can have one drink or I can have one pill. Because that one drink or that one puff or whatever is going to lead right back to where you started from.
Dual Diagnosis: Mental Illness and Addiction
And it’s a family disease and it runs in families. And it destroys families. It is an illness. That’s the most important thing. People need to accept it is an illness. And you have so many people that have dual diagnosis. They have a mental illness as well as they medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol. And so many of our mentally ill dual diagnosis are in jail. It’s not where they should be, but that’s the only place we have to put them. It’s a bad situation. And a lot of people don’t accept the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction is an illness.
When you think of the patients that you have treated over your lifetime career, are there certain moments that are meaningful to you?
Yes. I remember one, a husband of somebody I worked with, she came and talked to me and said, “My husband is an alcoholic and he doesn’t realize it and won’t accept it.” And I did an intervention on him. And I got him in for treatment in September of ’83 and he’s still clean and sober. Yeah, that means something.
Were there funny moments of levitation at work or practical jokes?
Oh, there were funny moments! I was thinking I had shared one of the funniest moments for nurse’s training. Would you like to hear that one? At two o’clock in the morning the fire alarm went off. Now we all had to put on our trench coats and go outside because there was smoke everywhere. Now we’re all standing out on Kuhl, because it was the McCormick dorm, 1414 Kuhl, We’re all standing out there in trench coats and the fireman comes out with this bra that’s on fire from foam. We all knew whose bra it was. Nobody would tell whose bra it was and everybody got put on restriction. That was one of the funniest moments.
Were there any historical events that impacted your work? Although somewhat you touched on that because of the events in our country related to addiction.
Well, and the other thing, mental illness. When they closed long term facilities, half way houses, it didn‘t work. And that’s the reason we have so many people in jail. And we were so afraid that we were going to trample on people’s toes that we let the mentally ill decide what they could or could not be forced to do. And they don’t have the capability. And a lot of people that voted and made the laws, they haven’t worked with them and they don’t understand.
Baker Act and Marshman Act
And we have all the laws that say we can’t tell the parents what the kid is doi ng. And a lot of them have the mental capability of a 12 or 14 year old. Or they become schizophrenic and stuff and we still can’t. It’s a screwed up system. Excuse my language. It’s not okay. We can Baker Act. Keep them in for three days and then throw them out on the street again. We can Marshman Act them, with drugs, and throw them out on the street. People don’t realize the sensitivity of the dual diagnosis.
What makes a good nurse?
To me, you have to like people. You have to care. And you have to put other people before you in lots of ways. But at the same time, you have to remember one thing, just like on an airplane, the mother has to put the oxygen mask on herself first. If you don’t take care of you first, you can’t help anybody else. And nursing is a hard thing.
Looking at the Patient
I find a real problem with a lot of the new graduates. Because they don’t take care of the patient. The machine tells them if the patient is okay, instead of looking at the patient.
Reasons for being a Nurse
Some people have gone into nursing for the totally wrong reason. They’ve gone in it because it’s a secure job and a money making job and that’s the only reason. They’re horrible nurses. Excuse my language. They should not be a nurse.
Is there anyone in particular in your work either in teaching, when you were in school, a mentor or colleague, or someone that you remember, that you’re grateful for?
Mrs. Ebert. She taught us Anatomy and Physiology. She taught us Microbiology, Pharmacology, and all the dissecting with cats. But that lady could talk nonstop for two hours without a note. She knew her – everything – she just knew it. And, she just had a way of getting something across to you. And she was willing to give 110% if you were willing to help. So she was one of the best teachers.
And the other teacher that I really love, Miss Willis. Miss Willis, she was our Surgery and she was fantastic! Both of them were great. Both of them were nurses. But they were our instructors. But Mrs. Ebert was just fantastic.
When you look to the future like on a day like today, I think they talked about some of the training that is going on here, what do you think is important for people to know?
Well, I was happy to hear that we’re going back to an old fashioned back rub. To looking at the patient instead of the machine. The machine is not what we’re taking care of. And I wish they would do more of a selection and find out why people are going into it. They’re going into it for the wrong reasons. You make a lousy nurse if you’re going into it for money.
When you think of the ladies in this room that we’re looking at and you think of the reasons they went into it…
A lot of us went into it because it was a cheap education. It included room, board, books, uniform, the whole nine yards for $1500. Where else are you going to get an education for $1500. I mean, and a lot of us didn’t have funds otherwise. But they used us as staff. We were The Staff. We took care of the patient from very early. We staffed the hospital. We did 3-11. We worked holidays. We worked weekends. We worked 11-7. We were The Staff.
And from what I understand from some of the people I talked to today, that was an excellent learning experience.
You could go anywhere and all you had to do was tell them you were an Orange Memorial Hospital graduate and you had a job. Because they knew you didn’t graduate from there unless you were good. It had a very good reputation. Excellent. I had one of the best educations in the world.
Well, thank you so much for speaking with us today and for your legacy to the medical community. Thank you.
You’re very welcome.
Interview: Faye Stine Whyte, RN
Interviewer: Jane Tracy
Date: May 19, 2018
Place: Orlando Health – Orlando Regional Medical Center
Oral History Interview with Faye Stine Whyte, RN at Orlando Health - Orlando Regional Medical Center on May 19, 2018. The interview was conducted at the 1968 Class Reunion of Orange Memorial Nursing School Graduates held at Orlando Health's Orlando Regional Medical Center in the centennial year of Orlando Health's service to the Central Florida community.
Interview: Faye Stine Whyte, RN
Interviewer: Jane Tracy
Date: May 9, 2018
Place: Orlando Health - Orlando Regional Medical Center