Longtime friends retiring from nursing careers at Winchester District Memorial Hospital

Dawn Erickson and Karen Froats as figure skaters at the Winchester Arena in the 1970s — before they both became nurses at Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

WINCHESTER — Dawn Erickson and Karen Froats first met on the skating rink at the Winchester Arena in 1975. They were 10- and 12-years-old respectively. They were the Maid of Honour at each other’s wedding. Their kids grew up together. They’ve both worked at WDMH their entire careers. And they are both retiring this month.

“We have so much fun together. We bring out the best of each other,” says Dawn.

Karen agrees: “Dawn has been my inspiration from day one because she’s such as good person. She has been an amazing role model.”

When it came time to choose a career, this dynamic duo decided that they would be nurses. And WDMH was their hospital of choice. Dawn led the way, heading off to St. Lawrence College in Cornwall one year ahead of Karen.

Dawn has worked throughout the hospital, including 25 years on the Enhanced Care Unit. “We had so much fun and I always looked forward to coming to work and to seeing who I was ‘on’ with,” she remembers. “People came to work at Winchester, and they stayed. They never left!”  Dawn has served as Team Leader on the Medical/Surgical Unit since 2009.

Karen Froats and Dawn Erickson on vacation last year.

Karen also cared for patients in many areas of the hospital, including working on the Complex Continuing Care Unit for 25 years. In 2010, she was asked to help support the development of WDMH’s electronic patient record project and never left the role. “For my whole life, I’ve been an analytical planner and it has been exciting to develop the plan — looking at documentation from a nursing perspective.”

Both Karen and Dawn say they are looking forward to retirement, and of course, spending time together. “As teenagers, we taught each other to drive,” laughs Dawn. “Karen’s mother used to say – ‘As long as you are going with Dawn, it will be OK.’  If she only knew what we were up to!”

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