Lorraine (Lori) Brown

OBITUARY: Lori Brown CMH staff plans celebration of life

Lorraine (Lori) Brown, former Cariboo Memorial Hospital X-ray department manager from 1970 to 2004 passed away suddenly on April 23, 2006 in Williams Lake, B.C.

Lori, an only child, was born Lorraine Mary Bishop in Campbellton, New Brunswick on September 9, 1943. She grew up in the town of Chipman, where she met her future husband, Len (Leonard) Brown in 1959. She trained as a radiographer in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Lori and Len married in 1967 then moved to Williams Lake in June 1970, after she answered an ad for a post as chief technologist in the X-ray department at CMH.

The department was staffed by four techs at that time.

CMH in the early 1970s had many more beds than now, and the staff consisted of many young people from elsewhere, who loved to party and play together in their free time.

Lori had many hilarious stories about the hospital “family,” from those times.

Two sons arrived to complete the Browns’ family, Ryan, born in 1975, and Tyler in 1977.

“Gran,” Anita Bishop, cared lovingly for the boys so that Lori could continue work. Tales of the two busy little fellows’ antics often lightened the day at work.

During Lori’s tenure, the X-ray department moved twice — in 1973, and again in 1994, both times to bigger and better quarters to accommodate more patients and more services such as mammography and ultrasound.

The hospital received regular radiologist visits from the late Dr. Peter DeVito of Quesnel, then Dr. Mary Trott was hired as full-time radiologist in 1975.

The current X-ray department was largely the result of Lori’s input, and, to her credit, in terms of layout and design it is one of the best in its peer group in B.C.

Lori’s last technological adventure at CMH was the changeover from film to digital imaging for X-rays. This required a lot of work from everyone, to ensure that the transition to computerized radiography happened smoothly.

Once all the old files were no longer needed, a space opened up to accommodate the new CT scanner, which was installed this year.

Lori’s expertise and her prodigious memory for techniques won respect from every tech who worked with her, as well as from the radiologists who relied on her films.

The film processors were another challenge she met head-on.

Each time a new one was installed she shadowed the service representative until she could practically take the machine apart, and put it together herself.

This proved handy at night and on weekends for the tech on call, as Lori would often be asked to come in, sometimes even from holidays, to sort out a problem, so that films could continue to be developed in emergencies.

Lori was a person of strong principles and high standards. She was always ready to learn something new, and to sharpen her already considerable skills, and she encouraged the other technologists to take a similar attitude to their work. She did not shrink from telling them if they did not live up to her expectations.

The cutbacks at CMH which started in the early 1990s prompted Lori to join the now defunct Community Health Council as a hospital staff representative, to find out how changes in health care delivery would impact the X-ray department.

With what she learned, she did her best to encourage staff to try to be part of the solution.

But as cutbacks continued and budgets shrank, it became increasingly difficult to keep control of costs as well as provide adequate staffing and services.

The struggle placed great strain on all the staff, including Lori, and she stopped work for health reasons in 2004.

Lori’s standards and principles extended to her private life as well, and her little world of family and home was jealously guarded and kept separate from work.

She was a gracious hostess, however, and guests were always welcome in the Brown home on White Road.

Though not given to displays of public affection, she was often surprisingly generous and compassionate, and enjoyed socializing with her friends.

Under her tough, strong, dignified public persona and delightful sense of humour, she was a private, sensitive person.

She was an expert seamstress, and when her career ended she took up gardening with a passion, treasuring plants that she had been given by friends.

She took a lively interest in local happenings, and was an enthusiastic, shrewd yard-sale and antique-store shopper.

She and Len were devoted to each other and raised two fine sons, of whom she was justifiably proud.

Her family and many friends mourn their sudden and tragic loss; she will long be remembered by her fellow workers and all those who knew her.

By Lori’s own request there will be no funeral. However, on Thursday, May 11, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the CMH cafeteria her co-workers and friends will host a farewell to celebrate Lori’s life.