Ida Vrem (online exclusive)
Ida Vrem, a stalwart of the Rolette County medical community for decades, and a widely loved figure in her home town, Rolette, ND, died May 28 at the age of 93.
After graduating from the Good Samaritan Nursing School in Rugby, Ida was hired by the Rolette Hospital in 1949. The pay was $8 dollars a day. At the time there were only five nurses on the staff.
Ida described those early days in a 1985 profile in The Turtle Mountain Star marking her retirement. “There were no disposables then,” she said, “and the night girls had to wash the rubber gloves one night and powder and sterilize them the next. The sponges were rewashed and redone every night. We also washed our own glass syringes and needles and sharpened and sterilized the needles.”
In 1957, the doctors at the Rolette Hospital asked Ida to get training to become a nurse anesthetist. Though she and her husband, Verl, already had 4 children, Ida traveled to Chicago where she studied anesthetics and was certified by the Cook County School of Anesthesia.
When she returned to Rolette as an accredited nurse anesthetist she began a 27 year career as a fixture in the operating rooms in the Rolette and Belcourt Hospitals.
Ida provided a critical service for many thousands of local residents during challenging and joyful times of their lives. She was involved in the delivery of over 2,000 babies in the Rolette Hospital, providing epidural anesthesia to ease the pain of childbirth. According to Ida, she also delivered 2 babies outside the hospital in automobiles; one of them in 20-below-zero winter weather. In addition, she administered approximately 7,300 general anesthetics and 1,000 intravenous anesthetics in Rolette Hospital operating rooms.
During much of her career Ida was the only anesthetist in the region, so for more than a quarter of a century she was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During 18 of those years, she said, she was unable to take a vacation. Getting enough sleep was a big issue, so, according to her children, after returning from overnight emergency surgeries Ida would shoo them out of the house after breakfast and tell them not to return until the noon whistle blew at the Rolette Fire Station.
Ida was born in Floro, Norway, a small fishing community on the west coast just north of Bergen. She came to North Dakota when she was 3 years-old and grew up on a farm near Overly with her parents, Laura and Carl Lien. She attended elementary school in Overly and was confirmed at the Overly Lutheran Church.
Ida graduated from Rolette High School where she met and fell in love with Verl Vrem. They were married in 1948 and had four children. They were active members of the community. Ida loved attending and hosting coffee parties for friends of all generations who she held dear. She lovingly visited and cared for many of them as they aged and their health failed.
During retirement Ida and Verl traveled extensively, visiting family in California, British Columbia, Alaska, Oklahoma, Washington State, Norway Sweden and the Washington, DC area. Verl died in 2007.
In recent years Ida lived in the Haaland Home apartments in Rugby, ND and in an assisted living facility near family on Smith Mountain Lake in southern Virginia. For the past 2 1/2 years Ida lived in Mendota Heights, MN, in a group home facility run by her daughter, Paulette, a registered nurse.
Ida is survived by a brother, Alvin Arstein of Rolette and sister Solrunn Jorgine Kinn Kvamme of Floro, Norway. She also leaves her children and their spouses; Mark(Bonnie) of Vancouver, BC; Mary Jo(John) of Chevy Chase, Md; Susan(Jay) of Smith Mountain Lake, VA; Paulette(Doug) of St. Paul, MN, and she is survived by her 7 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, at Valle Lutheran Church in Rolette, ND.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of Ida to Metigoshe Ministries, 165 Lake Loop Road, Bottineau, ND 58318-8055.
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