A moving salute to our nurses

Last week was full of firsts. It was the first time our annual Distinguished Nursing Lectureship was delivered by a non-nursing professional. It was the first time the event was not held at our system office in Renton, Wash. And it was the first time Doug Ogden – the husband of one of our patients – publicly shared his personal story of tragedy and hope.

The lectureship is held each year in conjunction with National Nurses Day and is typically focused on professional development. But this year, our nursing leaders turned the tables. They wanted to give our nurses a chance to hear directly from those we serve and asked Doug if he would do the honor. He graciously agreed and insisted on delivering his message in person to those who cared for his wife at Providence Saint Vincent in Oregon.

A loving wife and hero
Doug lost his wife, Vanessa, shortly after the delivery of their second daughter. Vanessa was a retail manager at Clackamas Town Center who bravely kept a store full of employees and customers safe during a tragic mall shooting in 2012 just weeks before giving birth.

Amid heartbreak and loss, Doug said our nurses gave him the support and compassion he needed to get through it. On Nurses Day, he wanted everyone at Providence to know how much that meant to him and his family.

Doug’s message to our nurses
Here is a powerful excerpt from Doug’s talk.


Doug Ogden addresses the nurses of Providence.

“Things happen for a reason. People wonder all the time why bad things happen to good people. I believe the answer is quite simple. It gives the ordinary the opportunity to do the extraordinary. On your darkest most frustrating days, never forget that you have the ability to affect the lives of those you are in contact with. Don’t believe me? Just ask any nurse on 9 East who served my wife. I’ll bet they’ll tell you they didn’t do enough. But in reality, they did more than I could have ever asked of them. They chose to serve my wife and myself at a time when all hope was lost. They didn’t give up, and neither should you because you’ll never know how your efforts will affect those who need it the most.

To any nurse hearing this today, never stop fighting to give the best care possible. Never stop believing that what you have to offer can mean the world to someone. And always remember: If you ever feel like this profession is not worth it or that what you do doesn’t matter, as long as I’m alive, I will never let that be true.”

Doug, a new member of the Providence team
Doug was so inspired by our nurses that he left a flourishing career in restaurant management to join the team at Providence a few months ago. He now serves in our new patient call center in Oregon.  I want to personally thank Doug for having the courage to share his story and for serving as a beacon of light for us all. I also want to extend a warm welcome to him as a new member of the Providence family. 

Remarkable nursing care from Valdez to East LA
Doug’s insights about our nurses are spot on. No matter where you go in our system, our nurses embody the Providence promise to “know me, care for me and ease my way.” I love how Chief Nursing Officer Deb Burton put it:

“We are changing the world minute to minute. So whether you care for Native Americans in Southern California; native Alaskans in Cordova, Seward, Valdez or Anchorage; farm workers in Mission Hills; movie stars in Burbank; surfers in Redondo Beach and Torrance; windsurfers in Hood River (Oregon); fishermen on Kodiak Island, former gang members getting their tattoos removed because we manage a free tattoo removal clinic in East LA to offer a new lease on life … vacationers in Flat Head Lake in Montana; or college kids in Spokane, Wash., … it doesn’t matter. We are all the same.”

Providence serves all walks of life across the West Coast, and our nurses are always there for them, delivering the same level of exceptional care to each and every person who comes to us in need.

Here’s to our nurses and a memorable Distinguished Nursing Lectureship. We couldn’t have asked for a better, more fitting tribute to the 24,000 women and men who represent the heart and soul of Providence.

  1. Yes please…..Doug’s entire message woould be nice to listen to..not only to Oregon but system wide – it sends a good message.

    Doug, thank you for sharing. You are thought of warmly.

  2. Yes – the full video will be available in the next week or so! Watch for it in InTouch or on the systemwide nursing site: http://in.providence.org/sss/departments/cps/Pages/default.aspx

    • Hannah – Thanks for the update on the full recording. I encourage everyone to watch it when it becomes available. -Rod

  3. Even in the midst of tragedy, this is a true promise story. Is it possible to see/hear Doug’s entire message?

  4. Doug Ogden is truly an inspiration! What a stoic and courageous man. We’re so fortunate to have him as a Providence caregiver.

    Thank you for sharing his story with everyone who wasn’t able to hear his remarkable speech at the Distinguished Nursing Lectureship.