Steven Blum to retire after 27 years of treating patients at Floyd County Medical Center
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Blum enjoyed his time spent as a registered nurse in southeastern Alaska in the mid-’80s.
The 1974 Nashua High School graduate was sad to leave the port island that juts out into the Pacific Ocean near British Columbia.
“Great salmon fishing. I liked it there – a lot. I was probably going to stay there. But the climate was kind of always gray and depressing looking,” said Blum, a Charles City native.
So Blum left his job working at Indian Health Service in the harbor town of Sitka, Alaska, traveled 1,800 miles east to Minnesota and went back to school.
That decision would eventually lead him back to Charles City – where he will retire next week after 27 years of treating patients as a physician’s assistant/nurse practitioner at Floyd County Medical Center.
Blum, 63, has spent more than 40 years in the medical field after graduating from Mount Mercy University in 1979 with an RN degree. His final day at FCMC is Friday, Aug. 30.
“That’s long enough,” said Blum.
Blum said he’s got plenty of hunting and fishing to do, not to mention keeping up with how his grandchildren are doing. He might even write a book, with the focus being on the care he was able to provide the thousands of patients he has helped over the decades.
“I’ve had enough of the medicine field for awhile,” said Blum, who said he was born in the old hospital in Charles City in 1956.
Floyd County Medical Center was built in 1965, with a major addition completed in 1990 and a remodel done in 2008. In 2016, FCMC bought out the private clinic that Blum has worked for since 1992.
Blum said his decision to retire wasn’t easy, and he’ll remember his patients the most.
“You treat them just like family members almost,” said Blum. “I’ve been saying bye to them for six months now. I’m getting a lot of hugs and handshakes – some tears. I get a present now and then.”
He also won’t forget some of the most gratifying moments gained from his family practice when sometimes saying the right word or offering up advice could brighten an ailing patient’s day.
“It was taking their pain away – a lot of it was. Whether it’s a gut ache or a heartache. You want to get them feeling better,” said Blum.
If not being able to treat his patients ranks near the top of the list of what Blum will miss the most post-retirement, not being able to work with Rita McCauley has to be a close second or at least a virtual tie. The licensed practical nurse has been by Blum’s side for all 26 years at FCMC.
“She’s been here since day one,” Blum said.
Blum’s days at the office are often filled with addressing chronic conditions or diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart issues and cancer. An acute illness may also warrant a hospital stay if symptoms persist or don’t improve.
That’s the hard part of Blum’s job.
But he tries to remain positive and sympathetic, no matter the diagnosis.
“There’s a lot of science in medicine. But there’s a lot of art to it as well – how to put hands on, how to talk to people,” said Blum. “You try and say, ‘Well, keep your head up. We’ll get you through this.’ It’s hard mentally. It is.”
Blum’s first job working after graduating from Mount Mercy University was at a veteran’s hospital in Roseburg, Oregon. He also worked in Bemidji, Minnesota, as a RN. Blum received his PA-C and FNP education from the University of North Dakota in 1992.
Blum said his high school guidance counselor talked him into getting into the field of nursing. Little did he know at the time, but that decision would set him down a path that has benefitted many, including himself.
“I thought he was nuts,” Blum laughed.