By Alan Sorensen
ROCKY BOY A Rocky Boy nurse has been selected as Public Health Nurse of the Year for the Billings Area.
Alberta St. Pierre, a licensed practical nurse for 30 years, has been a nurse to the people of the Chippewa Cree Tribe at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation for 20 years.
St. Pierre was nominated by her supervisor of the last 10 years, Janet N. Runnion, R.N.
"(St. Pierre's) cooperation, expertise, and professionalism are always genuine," Runnion wrote in her nomination letter. "She is always mindful of the need to consider the cultural beliefs and feelings of her patients when performing her job.
"She has developed the ability to mesh the ways and beliefs of the Native American culture with modern' medicine, at times encouraging the use of both simultaneously."
Runnion said St. Pierre readily shares her knowledge with coworkers and nursing students.
"Her interaction and leadership have added greatly to the making of a remarkable public health program at Rocky Boy," Runnion wrote.
Runnion noted that, at times, over the last 20 years, St. Pierre was the only public health nurse on the reservation because of staff vacancies. As a result, she said, St. Pierre developed the capability to be innovative in her approach to "getting things done."
Runnion said that St. Pierre is "passionate" about immunizations and communicable disease control and prevention.
"Several of the community members have told me she is better than the FBI when it comes to finding someone," Runnion wrote. "Alberta never ceases to amaze me with the inventive ways she has of contacting a patient in the community without jeopardizing their right to confidentiality."
Runnion said St. Pierre uses the same talents to deal with health care providers at every level and that she is respected locally and at the state and national levels.
"She is never hesitant to go right to the top' when she needs information about a disease or a new procedure she is not familiar with," Runnion wrote. "Alberta willingly attends continuing education sessions, eager to return to Rocky Boy and put to use what she has learned."
St. Pierre is credited with playing an important role in several projects at the tribal clinic, including the implementation of a chlamydia screening protocol for firefighters and all physicals, blood lead level screening of children, and immunizing high risk adults with hepatitis B vaccine.
Runnion concluded by arguing that St. Pierre was deserving of the award because of all her "efforts and contributions to the cause of public health."