1927 - 2020 Ruth Dorothea "Dolly" Joern, ARNP, a retired women's health care nurse practitioner in Mount Vernon and, earlier, Bellingham, died on Saturday, March 7, at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue of complications from a heart valve procedure. She was 92. Dolly was a motivator, mentor and advocate for patients and a champion of her profession at critical times for legislative and community action. Physicians called her inspirational, citing her breadth of knowledge and creativity in medicine, her trademark collaborative approach and her effectiveness as an educator. Nursing colleagues described her as a pathfinder, change agent and professional and personal mentor. She was an advocate for women's healthcare and the then-new advanced-practice training for nurses in women's healthnurse practitioners. Following her own training as a nurse practitioner in 1976, she was among the very first pioneers of the designation in Washington, license No. (3)0000006, with prescriptive authority. Initially certified by the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (NAACOG) and the American Nurses Association, she was certified in 1980 as a Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHCNP), when that specialty designation became available. Dolly helped drive to passage legislation protecting the confidentiality of nurse-patient communications in 1985. In 1993, she was the nominee from Planned Parenthood to sit on the Washington nursing commission. Dolly Joern was born in 1927 in Sioux City, Iowa, to parents who had immigrated to the U.S. earlier in that century from Eastern Europe. She was the eldest in a family of five children. The family later relocated to Pasadena, California. She began her nursing career as an RN in 1945 after training with the Knapp College of Nursing and as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Cadet Nurse Corps. She later trained in Gynecorps, Washington State's first training programs for nurse practitioners in women's health. Dolly worked at hospitals and women's healthcare clinics in California, Louisiana and Bellingham before settling in 1980 in Mount Vernon. As head nurse in obstetrics at St. Joseph's Hospital in Bellingham in 1960, she launched the first classes for prospective parents and made headlines for the groundbreaking policy of permitting fathers in the delivery room. In 1980, she joined physician John Knudsen in founding the Mount Vernon Women's Clinic. Over the years, thousands of women were her patients, frequently including multiple generations of the same family. She retired from clinical practice at age 85, after 37 years as a nurse practitioner and 65 years as a nurse and caregiver. Dolly had a lifelong love of animals and was a fierce advocate for the fair and humane treatment of all animals. During her lifetime, she adopted cats and dogs, and was always alert for strays who needed care and homes. She is survived by her sister Roberta Weil and brother Norman Shapiro, both of Hawaii; her son and only child, Steven Weiner and loving daughter-in-law Teresa Barker Weiner, of Beaverton, Oregon; three grandchildren, Aaron Weiner (Lauren) of Long Grove, IL, Rachel Rau (Kristen) of Hamburg, Germany, and Rebecca Barker of San Francisco; and three great-grandchildren, Leyna and Aden Weiner, and Juna Ruth Rau. Dolly's larger extended family included two half-sisters, Betty Henigman of Israel, and Robin Walker of Harmon, Utah; her niece Martha Decherd of Portland, and nephews Michael Weil of Berkeley, California, and Raymond Weil of Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts. At Dolly's request, no formal services are planned. A community gathering to celebrate Dolly is being planned for a later date. To share remembrances now, please visit www.weremember.com/dolly-joern-joern/0z7t/memories? utm_campaign=facebook &utm_source=facebook. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name are encouraged to Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Mount Vernon; the Skagit Audubon Society; the Northwest Center for Animal Help (NOAH) of Stanwood, and the Mount Vernon Public Library.
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