Interview submitted by Allison
Lindaís Interview with Pat Shively
LINDA: Pat Shively, I am about to interview Pat Shively to record her history so that we can always remember all her contributions and all the things she did through her life.
As we start I want to do a brief introduction, and Pat I would like you to tell me if I have the basic information about you right. You were born and raised in Ralston, Nebraska. You are 55 years old, born on December 5, 1944. You have 3 children, twins Allison and Cindy Wolfe, who are now 30 years old and Molly Wolfe who is 24 years old. You have been with your partner, Carolyn Skye for 10 years?
PAT: It will be 10 in September!
L: And you were both born on December 5th.
P: Thatís also Carolynís birthday. This past birthday Carolyn was 44 and I was 55 in í99, and they added up to 99. I was born in 44 and she was born in 55, so we have a lot of duplication in numbers, so bizarre.
L: So I would like to talk to you a little bit about your professional history. The first question is how did you decide on nursing as a profession?
P: Oh, I donít know, I kind of fell in to it. I was taking classes at the university, or Memphis State University, to become a teacher Ďcause I thought I was going to become an English lit. teacher. I was working at the hospital to supplement my income, and I got interested in medicine. And then I got a scholarship, a full scholarship to nursing school and thought, well this would be a hell of a lot cheaper than trying to put myself through school Ďcause it was really difficult, you know, work and going to school at the same time. So I took that scholarship and kind of changed to medicine, which was for the best Ďcause I found out I liked English lit., but I didnít want to teach it. I just liked it. I knew medicine was quite a challenge; it was interesting, and it was a detective game. I was trying to figure out what caused what. So thatís how I got into medicine, it was kind of an accident. I was already working at the hospital as a phlebotomist and an EKG technician to put myself through college in Memphis. I moved down there because I had a friend there who said school was a lot cheaper than the university of Nebraska, which it was. So I moved down there with Rema Brown, or Rema Payne. She had a little girl; she was from Nebraska, from Ralston. I practically lived with her family. Youíve heard me talk about Jen and Walt? Yep, they were kind of like parents to me.
L: So then you took off, tell the story about you taking off with them.
P: Oh, it was in the winter and I bought this old car from my brother, an old beater, rusted-out Plymouth with the door wired closed, and I was going to see a friend just before leaving town. This guy came around the corner and skidded on the ice and slammed into my car and caused about $250 worth of damage. Iíd bought the car for only $50. He was drunk so he didnít want to have any involvement with insurance, so he just gave me money, so that was my little nest egg to take me to Memphis! And then I ended up using that car for years until it finally used more oil than gas, so I sold it to the junk yard for 50 dollars, hows that?! Itís the best car I ever had. I had that door wired shut for a long time, but it was a 4-door, so I could spare an extra door. So thatís the story of the car.
L: Just for the record, what years did you attended the nursing school in Memphis?
P: Oh, I attended for a while, then they gave me the All-State. I was there on a full scholarship, then they gave me this All-State Foundation. It was like a $400 dollar cash award for being the most outstanding student, and then they kicked me out of school for some weird kangaroo court thing with the student body. I donít know what it was about, but they just held some court and decided I was way too snotty or something. I donít know, I just knew too much. I was too old for that school; I could make decisions on my own. But somehow I got kicked out, and I had to come back a year later. I had to go have some psychiatric evaluation, and the doctor that saw me for the psychiatric evaluation called over and said, "Sheís on a full scholarship, and you just gave her another one, and then you say sheís crazy, and then you kick her out. Whoís crazy here?" So anyway, I got back in, and then I was a student counsel president. I became president of the student counsel so they couldnít do that to me again!
L: When did you graduate from nursing school?
P: Oh I finished I think in 1973. I think we moved out here in December, so I graduated in that summer or fall.
L: And you took two years off and had your children, and then you went back to school? P: Well Joe got back from Vietnam, we got married and had the kids and took about 18 months off with the twins before I went back to school. Then I went back and graduated. The twins were born in November 1969.
L: So jumping up a few years, tell us about how you decided to become a Nurse Practitioner.
P: Well, I was working in a small hospital in Sedro-Woolley. It was a good time there Ďcause it was a transition and we were starting innovative things like family center childbirth. We did rooming-in; we were the first in the state to do rooming-in, and the university came to study our program, because it was so successful at the Sedro-Woolley hospital. Sue Powers was there, and myself, Dr. Maroone, Dr. Bishop, and all the young folks were there who wanted to do innovative things. We kind of pushed the old guard out. So we had a good time, we had a good unit. I was doing labor and delivery and some ER nursing. I just wanted to expand, and I was fairly unhappy in my marriage, so I was thinking of getting a divorce and going back to school. Iíd been wanting to go to a Nurse Practitioner program that I heard about in Seattle, at Gynacore.
L: What year was that, that you went to Nurse Practitioner training?
P: I think it was in 1978.
L: And then you graduated that year?
P: I graduated that year; it was a one-year program. I believe it is now a two-year program. It was a one-year didactic with a six-month preceptorship. Then I went back to Mt. Vernon and worked with my preceptor and continued to work there for a while. Then I met you, and you decided to get a job down here, so we moved down here to Olympia. I wanted to set up my own practice anyway and thought it would be better to do it in another town. I was trying to figure out a way to start a practice down here when you started to work here as a state-nursing consultant.
L: You were really a pioneer for womenís health care, I mean you were the first person in the state I think to start a private womenís health care Nurse Practitioner clinic.
P: Well, myself, and there was another woman up in the Mt. Vernon area, Peggy, what was Peggyís last name? But she and I were about the same time; hers was more of a hippy operation, mine was more of a traditional model of medicine, because Olympia was not quite as hippy as Stanwood. I canít remember Peggyís last name, but she and I were the first two in the state.
L: Thatís because then the laws were such that Nurse Practitioners could prescribe drugs within the field right?
P: Yes, and get insurance reimbursement.
L: So, you started your clinic in 1981, but there were some obstacles you had to overcome in order to start this clinic. Do you want to talk about those a bit?
P: Financing was difficult. I had a house I was waiting to sell, and the real estate market had gone soft in Mt. Vernon. I had put together a financial proposal and went to the banks, and all I wanted was 10 or 20 thousand dollars, and you wouldíve thought it was like impossible. So finally I went into a bank that had management, had women as managers, and they pulled it through for me and got me a loan. But I had to look quite a bit; I had a lot of men who just didnít get the role model. I said, "If it was my husband-- my ex-husband is a doctor-- youíd give him money in a minute. Itís the same plan, only I am a woman and a Nurse Practitioner, and Iím asking you for a lot less." So they gave it to me, and I told them they would never be disappointed in lending me that money, and they werenít. I paid them back with full interest and borrowed more and more and paid them back every time. It was harder for a woman then.
L: And you had one particular woman at the bank that was quite helpful didnít you?
P: At Key Bank-- no it wasnít Key Bank, no it was something else; the banks have changed like 10 times. So it wasnít Key Bank, it was another bank.
L: I know that when you first started your clinic you had to kind of supplement your income and work at the prisons and work with women there?
P: No, that was later. I started working at Planned Parenthood and the Health Department. I worked at that prison just for a short while because they had women inmates and they needed a woman practitioner. It was short-term and it was a half-way house; it was not a big thing, but I worked down there in Rochester for a while.
L: Also you contributed a lot to improve the care for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Do you want to talk about what it was like before you came and what changes you contributed to Thurston County?
P: Well, they didnít have a place, they didnít have the sexual assault center they have now, so I did most of the sexual assault exams in my office 24 hours a day. I also did early trainings for advocates in training on the medical/legal aspects of abortion and the rape exam, and I got one of the first awards for outstanding people helping Safeplace. It was a very early first award, they are much fancier now; my little plaque is pretty cute though! And valued very much by me, so yes I did that. Now Iím glad to say they have a Sexual Assault Center at St. Peters where people can go to 24 hours a day and get care. Thatís a great contribution that everybody who put that together made.
L: I remember that in the early days you were one who helped mothers-- you have to clarify this for me-- you helped mothers who came suspecting that their children were being sexually abused, and you used some dolls in order to identify that abuse, and you referred them on to the proper professionals. Can you tell me more about that?
P: With children and sexual abuse, you have to have dolls, sexually explicit dolls, and nobody had any. So I bought some and used them for quite a while, and then I donated them to Safeplace to use. I donít know where they are now, but yes, there were some little anatomically explicit dolls. But nobody could afford them then, and they were a mere 300 dollars; itís so funny now.
L: You worked with a therapist on this, right? You just got it started, so the children could play with the dolls and show you what happened.
P: They didnít play with them, they just showed me-- who did what, who touched them where. It allowed them to show me who did what to them.
L: That was really a great contribution. You were one of the few clinics, well you are one of the few clinics to offer abortion services, however this has not been easy; you have had a lot of picketers ever since you started providing services. What measures did you take to protect yourself and the clinic and what support did you get from the county officials?
P: We didnít get a lot of support from the officials. We had to educate them about this whole subject. We got bullet-proof vests; we learned how to respond to bomb threats; sometimes the police had to check for bomb placement. We educated them federally, locally and on a county level about breaking the law and obstructing clinic progress or clinic business. People could enter safely only with their protection, but it took quite a bit of work. The community came around too; they were very helpful and very vocal. We now have clinic defenders to watch outside, to help advocate for patients when they come in. We believe strongly in abortion, not as a procedure but as a philosophy, a choice; thatís why we do it. Itís been a long, hard, but worthwhile struggle.
L: What about seeing your picture in the paper? Were you at a police meeting or something like that?
P: Iíve been to a lot of police meetings, a lot of legislature, legislative hearings. Iíve been to a lot of those, so Iím sure youíve seen my picture somewhere.
L: But wasnít there a time when the cops were pissed off at you?
P: Well yes, they were mad at me frequently because I was rocking the boat. I was making them learn something that they didnít necessarily want to learn. But now they respect me, some of them. Some you will never get their respect.
ALLISON: I remember one time, on Christmas day, Molly, Cindy and I were driving in your car and got pulled over. After checking the registration, they gave us every possible ticket in the book. When we got home and told you about it, you asked if they checked the registration and said the cops were kind of mad at you then, because youíd just gone public against the police, saying that they werenít protecting the clinic or something like that.
L: You have really helped a lot of women to understand and to deal with menopause. I think you were one of the first womenís health clinics to really counsel women. Would you talk a little bit about your menopausal services?
P: Well I think it is one of the most important phases of a womanís life, her adult years. I can prevent so many things and add so much quality by hormone replacement, and there has been no evidence that hormone replacement causes breast cancer or increases risk of endometrial or breast cancer. All the studies were positive that you should do hormone replacement therapy even if you have breast cancer. You should continue with hormone replacement therapy, but go ahead and do your treatment. So I think Iíve added a lot of quality. I was one of the early people that did a lot of speaking out and advocating for patients to do hormone replacement, and you can see most of my patients are on it or have thought seriously about it. Most of them are on it, so I think thatís been a real plus.
L: Are there areas in womenís health care that you feel we still need to work toward improving?
P: Yes, the big area is hormone replacement. We need to continue to educate. There are so many women who still are not on it. We also can never ever relax on the choice issue; the abortion issue will always have to be alive for us; it will never be put to bed. It always needs vigilance, and we just need to advocate and educate constantly!
L: I understand that the clinic has now been purchased by your colleagues who will continue to provide state-of-the-art womenís health care, and that it will remain a woman-owned and operated clinic. You must feel proud to have started this clinic and see that it will be continued.
P: I am very honored and proud that Nancy Armstrong and Shelley Pacheco are going to carry on my philosophy and my clinic. Nancy and I have worked very closely together; she is a wonderful clinician with excellent skills and shares my philosophy and work ethic. I couldnít have asked anyone nicer to step into my shoes, or one more qualified.
L: I just want to say that Julie Dybbro would like to start a Pat Shively Womenís Health Care Fund and have people contribute to that, so that in the future, if people canít afford health care, they can apply to your Pat Shively Womenís Health Care Fund. How do you feel about that?
P: I feel honored. I have never heard of it, but itís an honorable thing, and maybe people could contribute, instead of flowers, they could contribute money to that fund. That would be very nice.
I LOVE YOU PAT SHIVELY, THANK YOU FOR THIS INTERVIEW!
The above interview was conducted by Linda Andrews!
Pat Shively article and obituary in Feb. 17 2000 Olympian (big file)