Written by Jaimee Green
After 43 years of service to Northeast Montana Health Services and the community, Bob Fladeland is retiring from Poplar Hospital where he has worked in the lab department since January 1969.
He has chosen to retire citing the number of years he has worked and at the urging of his daughters, Kim of Garrison, N.D., and Mary of Sheridan, Wyo.
Early in his career, he worked the hospital floor wearing three hats, laboratory clerk, X-Ray technician and orderly. That was a time when a busy day in the lab consisted of five lab tests, which took all day to complete because technology hadn’t yet advanced with the use of computers.
Today, the lab can complete between 90 to 100 lab tests.
“The first thing I am going to do is get a fishing license. I don’t care what kind of fish I catch, as long as it’s the kind with a lot of fight in them. My wife and I worked our entire lives and this is finally our time to do some things that we have put off for a long time,” he said.
He also plans to scratch a few things off that “honey-
do” list that has grown lengthy over the years. He also plans to take up bird watching and travel to Texas to visit his older brother, Ralph, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years.
“I think it finally hit me that I am retiring when that first snow storm came and, for once, I didn’t have to clean the snow off the car and come in to work. Instead, I stayed in where it was nice and warm,” he said. “But I am going to miss all of the wonderful people that I have worked with over the years. They have taken such great care of me.”
Fladeland served in the United States Army from 1963-1966 serving in Texas, Alaska and Maryland. During that time, he worked in military hospitals in nearly every department, including surgery, pathology and autopsy, and served as the head of the ambulance service while stationed in Maryland. “I delivered a baby in an elevator once in Alaska. I had never been so scared in all of my life. But, I couldn’t let that young girl know I was scared because she was terrified. I think I must have been about 21 or 22 years old when that happened,” he recalled.
The one area of the medical field he didn’t get an opportunity to work in was lab, so he made a quiet promise to himself to do that. After his time in the service, he attended the University Center in Williston, N.D., and then transferred to the Professional Business Institute in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1968. Graduating with a degree in medical technology, he went to work for Mercy Hospital in Williston until joining Poplar Hospital.
Within three months of starting his new job, he met his soon-to-be wife, Kathy McDonald, who was a nurse at the hospital. Three months after meeting, the two were married, on May 12, 1969. Kathy retired from NEMHS last April, after 46 years making their combined years at NEMHS an astonishing 89 years of service.
Early in his career there was a time when he worked eight hours a day, seven days a week and was on call for the remaining time. He gave countless hours of his time both professionally and personally to NEMHS over the years.
In 1992 he was recognized as the Employee of the Year.
Elvira Padron, Lab Supervisor/Manager is taking over his position and will oversee the lab at Poplar Hospital.
Along with their two grown daughters, Fladeland and his wife have three grandchildren and two great grandsons.