Joann Boatman, RN of Longview received her diploma in nursing from Emanual Hospital School of Nursing and has been an active and committed member of WSNA since graduation. During her more than 48 years in WSNA, Joanna has served as both President and a member of the Boards of Directors for Lower Columbia and King County Nurses Associations and for WSNA. As a two term WSNA President from 1989 to 1993, Joanna led the Association in its fight back after the devastating raids by the UFCW and 1199 unions. In her first term, she put many miles on her car as she visited nearly every district in Washington at least twice to let nurses know she was listening to their concerns. This was a scary time for WSNA members as they watched their association in a very difficult time so her presence and willingness to listen had a reassuring effect on the membership.
To demonstrate the high regard and trust in which the members held Joanna, the bylaws were changed so that she could run for a second term as President even though she had served on the Board of Directors for six years.
The enduring value of Joanna’s achievements lies in her efforts and successes in having the worth and dignity of the staff nurse recognized. She continually emphasizes the point of view and concerns of the staff nurse at the front lines whether it’s as a delegate to the ANA convention or as a delegate to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. She was the first staff nurse to become WSNA President and the first staff nurse to be appointed to the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and the first staff nurse to be elected as Chair of the Commission.
Joanna’s nursing career has been spent in the operating room where for over 44 years patients, doctors, and fellow staff nurses all expressed confidence in her abilities. One of the physicians at Virginia Mason Medical Center, where Joanna worked for over 30 years, related that patients scheduled for surgery would ask to have her be their nurse.
As picket captain during the long sixty-nine day strike at Virginia Mason in 1976, Joanna headlined the role of the nurses as patient advocates and devoted the last two weeks of the strike convincing administration that nurses’ input into patient care issues was essential.
Joanna also elevated the image of nurses in the operating room from that of the “doctor’s hand maiden” to a true and equal partner of the surgical team as President of the Seattle chapter of Operating Room Nurses.
Joanna has made a lasting contribution to the health of her community. She was born in Kalama, Washington in the same house that her mother was born in and in the same house that she lives in today. Joanna began her first job as an operating room nurse at Cowlitz General Hospital in Longview. After moving to Aberdeen for a year where she commuted back to Longview to fill in for vacations as Dr. Pulliam’s scrub nurse and office nurse, she moved to Seattle to take an operating room position with Virginia Mason Hospital. During World War II, she served as a member of the County Civil Defense team scanning the horizon for enemy planes. Years later she was honored by the Washington State Patrol for her role in assisting citizens during the aftermath of the Columbus Day storm.
In the 1950’s, Kalama, like other small towns, had no available health care. And so it was not thought unusual when Joanna became the “nurse” in her home town. In addition to her regular job, Joanna spent 25 – 30 hours a week sitting with dying patients, giving immunizations or other prescribed medications, doing wound care, and / or providing respite to parents while comforting ill children. The people in that community had their own nurse and were as proud of their nurses as she was in caring for and about them.
Being politically active has always been a priority for Joanna. She was the first woman mayor of Kalama and served four years on the Kalama City Council as well as being chair for the Cowlitz County Planning Council.
She served two terms as President of Washington Women United, has been a member of the Cowlitz County Historical Society Board, a member of the Grange for thirty years, and provided endless hours of community volunteer work beautifying the roadsides along the freeway and other community areas.
Joanna has lived in only three areas of the state, but has made an impact on the entire state of Washington through her work with WSNA and on behalf of staff nurses. The community in which she was born and where she has returned for retirement, completing the full cycle, will continue to feel her presence. She has improved the nursing care in and out of the operating room by being a patient advocate. She continued this advocacy in her role as Chair of the Nursing Commission.
Joanna will be remembered not only for her endeavors for staff nursing and nursing in general, but for her humor and ability to “say it like it really is.” The nurses of the state of Washington are experiencing better benefits and recognition because of her many past efforts and from her capable stewardship of the Association.