Marlene Schneider is a flu RN and has been with the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) since 2003. She is a graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, where she graduated in 1959.
Her first nursing job out of school was at SSM Health, where she worked for six years in labor and delivery. By the end of her time there, she had four children under five-years-old and wanted to seek out a job that allowed her to spend more time with her family. She got a position at Boonslick Medical Group in OBGYN where she worked for 36 years, starting out one day a week then moving up to full-time as her children got older. She was the head nurse.
After retiring from Boonslick Medical Group at age 64, Marlene followed the recommendation of a friend she went to nursing school with who told her that she should start giving flu shots for VNA. Marlene took her advice and has run with it for 17 years.
A typical day when there’s a clinic looks like Marlene calling her point of contact 24 to 48 hours in advance. Then, she arrives half-an-hour early to set up her table with all of her supplies, gives the injections, cleans up and compares numbers with the contact person. Most days she works, Marlene will do three to four clinics.
Marlene was originally attracted to the role of flu RN because of its flexibility. The part-time nature of the role allows her to work the days and times she wants depending on what clinics are needed. This allows her to take time to travel and spend more time with her ten grandchildren.
Marlene likes providing a service, and it motivates her every day. “My favorite part is knowing that I’m doing a service that will help people avoid serious illness.” She also appreciates the camaraderie that forms among the nurses who operate these clinics. “It’s a key part of my life every fall, and I get to work with a lot of good people. There are a lot of nice nurses, and you get to be quite good friends. Many of us have worked together for years.”
Positive effects of flu vaccinations are often discussed publicly by health experts, especially as COVID-19 persists, and Marlene believes they are critical in preventing people with chronic illnesses from contracting influenza. “The more people that get the vaccine, the more the spread is prevented, which is especially important for people that have chronic illnesses. Just like with COVID, a lot of the people that are passing away, it’s not really COVID they die from. They die from their chronic health problems.”
2020 marks Marlene’s last year as a flu RN. When asked why she thought it was time, she said “I can’t put it into words. I just feel like it’s time that I should retire. It was the same thing when I left Boonslick medical group. Sometimes you just know.” After retiring, she plans to continue traveling and spending time with her family.
We are grateful for Marlene’s service to thousands of St. Louisians over the last 17 years and wish her a happy and healthy retirement.