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Exhibit shares city nursing group’s history

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Jeannie Mulichak, last vice president, left, and Laurie Hornberger, last president, with the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, view a new exhibit showcasing their history at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor in Youngstown. The new exhibit was unveiled at an event Thursday at the center.

YOUNGSTOWN — The history of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association is showcased in a new exhibit unveiled Thursday at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor.

More than 75 people gathered at the center Thursday for the official opening of the exhibit and a program on the history of the association.

Several large panels telling of events in the association’s history, including nurses’ strikes, are displayed in the main entrance area.

The exhibit is called “A Legacy of Dignity, Strength, and Caring, 1966-2018” and chronicles the history of the YGDNA — the first nurses’ union in Ohio and the second in the country — from its inception over a wage dispute in 1966 to the Northside hospital’s closing three years ago.

The nurses’ union served as a voice for the registered nurses at the Youngstown Hospital Association, eventually extending to Northside, Southside and Tod Babies and Children’s Hospital and Beeghly Medical Park.

Laurie Hornberger, last president of the YGDNA, said “We have been a union for over 52 years, and it is so important to have our history here and archived.”

Hornberger said nurses in this union forged friendships and created a community that enabled them to bolster one another as they faced stressful situations on a daily basis.

The association dissolved after the closure of Northside Hospital. Nurses of YGDNA donated local union dues of $50,000 to the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor to archive their nurse labor history.

Hornberger said the YGDNA union wanted its treasury to stay in the Youngstown community, providing funds to the Youngstown State University Foundation for scholarships and sponsoring of future nurses.

“For decades the newspapers, TV stations and radio stations have covered the YGDNA stories while the nurses fought for better patient outcomes and fought for better working conditions. Nurses were able to speak out with a protected voice for their patients without the fear of losing their jobs due to the nurses’ union,” Hornberger said.

Jeannie Mulichak, last vice president of the YGDNA, said “I am so excited to be here and for them having this exhibit. It is so important. This is nurses representing nurses. It has always been about the community we serve.”

Nancy Wagner, director and professor of the YSU James and Coralie Centofanti School of Nursing, said she was happy to be included in the event.

“This is amazing to showcase the nurses and their commitment to the care of the community. We are proud of the history. What a vision they had to create this wonderful exhibit. An exhibit showing the YGDNA legacy of dignity, strength and caring. The nurses assocation’s passion is shown in the exhibit,” she said.

Kimberly Valone, professor of nursing, said the YSU associate degree nursing program began in 1967 and the bachelor’s degree in nursing program in 1983 with thousands of nurses graduating.

“I have been blessed to have this wonderful career in nursing,” she said.

Brian Bonhomme of the YSU history program said the exhibit is the result of a vision started three years ago and made possible by community support and donations.

“This exhibit exemplifies the relationship this museum has with the community and Youngstown State University,” he said.

Brooke Bobovnyik, a graduate intern assistant at the center who created a digital exhibit of the association’s history, said she reviewed archival material on the nurses association on the Internet and library and spoke to those connected with the association.

“The materials showcase the events that not only impacted nurses in Youngstown and Ohio, but the United States. After reviewing the material I have a greater appreciation for nurses and the members of the YGDNA,” she said.

The museum is supported by the Ohio History Connection and managed by the history program at YSU.

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