Long-time Blessing Hospital surgical nurse retires after 45 years of service

Altgilbers Don

Don Altgilbers | Photo courtesy of Blessing Hospital

QUINCY — Donald Altgilbers, associate nurse manager in Surgical Services/Operating Room at Blessing Hospital, retired April 28 after 45 years of service.

His advanced certifications included being a registered nurse first assistant, certified nurse in the operating room and certified surgical technologist.

Altgilbers spent his entire career in Blessing Surgical Services, starting in 1976 as a surgical transporter. Two years later he was promoted to surgical technologist after earning a certificate from the Blessing Hospital School of Surgical Technology. Altgilbers became a surgical registered nurse in 1987 upon receiving his diploma from the Blessing Hospital School of Nursing. He earned his bachelor of science in nursing degree from Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing/Culver-Stockton College in 1990. He earned his certificate as a surgical first assistant from Lakeland Community College in 1992.

First assistants anticipate the needs of the surgical team. During an operation, they assist the surgeon with selecting equipment, holding incisions open, stopping bleeding and closing the incision among other technical tasks.

Altgilbers worked for the same leaders in Blessing’s surgery department for the first 25 years of his career, crediting them with guiding him along his career path and encouraging his growth in the field.

In a press release, Altgilbers said, “The operating room is an ever-changing landscape. Procedures we did 45 years ago have become obsolete and can be treated with medications. New technology has led to minimally invasive procedures in most specialties. Being on the same playing field as the surgeons when learning the new procedures led to a collegial relationship. There was a tremendous amount of trust and respect.

“Blessing has always been on the forefront of providing the most current technology and instrumentation for surgeons to use in their practice. I enjoyed learning the new procedures and assisting in bringing those procedures and related programs to fruition at Blessing.”

In addition to providing patient care, Altgilbers helped educate other caregivers. He was an adjunct faculty member of the John Wood Community College surgical technology program from 2003 to 2020. Altgilbers was a member of the college’s surgical technology board and Health Science board.

“I learned something new almost every day it seemed. I only hope that some have learned from me,” he concluded.

Altgilbers’ professional memberships were the Association of Operating Room Nursing and Association of Surgical Technologists.

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