Tobey Hospital employees remember beloved coworker

Feb 7, 2023

Caring, humorous and hardworking were only a few of the words used to describe Tobey Hospital Health Unit Coordinator Jeanne Marie West during a vigil held in her honor on Monday, Feb. 6.

West died of natural causes on Jan. 7 at the age of 72.

Despite the cold weather and high winds, Tobey Hospital staff and members of the community gathered at Besse Park to share memories and celebrate West’s life.

According to her friend Denise Kashner, West touched many lives during her 26-year career.

“She was the troubleshooter,” Kashner said. “She was there for all the staff.”

Whether she was sneaking a piece of candy from the candy jar, telling a joke or helping her fellow nurses deal with a troublesome patient, West always brightened her coworkers’ days. 

“She knew everything about all of us, but we didn’t know much about her,” said Michelle Efthimiades, who trained under West. She was a very private person... She sat me down and taught me all the ropes.” 

In addition to working as a health unit coordinator, West worked as a personal care attendant for Kashner’s son Brian Michael. Through her bond with Brian Michael, West became part of the family. 

“The connection between Brian and Jeanne was heartwarming to say the least,” said Denise’s husband, Brian Kashner. 

The couple explained that despite being legally blind, Brian Michael always recognized “Jeannie.”

“When we went to Jeanne’s apartment the day that she passed,” Brian said, “on her refrigerator was a picture of Brian Michael. He was her boy.”

Denise and Brian Kashner are in the process of ordering a headstone for West, which will be placed in Centre Cemetery later this year.