Schladweiler retires from Prairie View Healthcare Center

By Vicki Berg Linke

JoAnn Schladweiler retired  from Prairie View Healthcare Center in Woonsocket after a nearly 35 year nursing career at the facility. She has worked in healthcare for a total of 54 years.  

JoAnn grew up on the family farm near Farmer with eight siblings and parents, Irene and Steve Schladweiler. JoAnn’s mother also worked for many years in healthcare.

The family moved to Mitchell in 1968 where JoAnn finished her last two years of high school, graduating from MHS in 1970.  She started working in healthcare just before  her senior year of high school in July of 1969. JoAnn had  joined the Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) through school.  In DECA, you have to complete the rest of the required classes for credit along with being employed at a job you were graded on and received a salary. JoAnn saved enough money to pay for her tuition at Mitchell Vo-Tech and earned a degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse.    

JoAnn’s first healthcare job was through DECA. She worked the 2-7 p.m. shift as a nurse’s aide at St. Joseph’s Hospital (now Queen of Peace). After having  completed the required courses at Vo-Tech, JoAnn graduated as an LPN in 1971. There were 40 students in her graduating class and not many LPN positions available at that time. JoAnn did work for a few months as an LPN at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and after that started working in long term healthcare facilities.  

JoAnn’s first long term care facility LPN position was at Hocking Home on West 3rd Street  in Mitchell. The home was sold to David and Pat Miles with the name being changed in honor of David’s grandparents to become Wilge Memorial Home. With the Miles’ as managers, JoAnn was the only nurse there.  She served as Director of Nursing with a Registered Nurse consultant. The Wilge Home relocated to a new building on East 6th Street by Firesteel (Golden Age Home). Where JoAnn worked retained the name, Wilge Memorial Home. The Wilge Home was eventually sold to Avera.

A life changing opportunity arose for JoAnn when her friend and former employer, Pat Miles, and her new husband, Skip Thorson, the newly appointed administrator of Prairie View, offered JoAnn a nursing position. They invited JoAnn to the long term care center in Woonsocket to see the new place where they were employed. She visited and liked what she saw. Two weeks later, an LPN position became available and JoAnn accepted the job working evenings and nights beginning Nov. 28, 1988. This was the start of JoAnn’s long career at Prairie View.   

In 2004, JoAnn was the recipient of the South Dakota Long Term Health Care Association’s Millie Award for excellent service. JoAnn commented that working in long term health care takes hard work and dedication but has its rewards. The rewards are the smiles, laughter, and appreciation from the residents you have helped at critical times in their lives.  

When asked her retirement plans, JoAnn said she is enjoying the free time she never had before.  Future plans  include participating in church activities, socializing with friends and family,  and doing some traveling.

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