Sharlet Rasmussen, a rehab therapy technician in Bend, is the kind of person who focuses on the present – the patient in front of her, the caregivers around her, the care they’re providing as a team.

Generally speaking, she’s not the type to spend a lot of time reflecting on the past. With her 50th anniversary at St. Charles arriving this week, however, the enormity of her tenure recently hit her out of the blue.

“I think back on 50 years and I just think, ‘Wow,’” she said. “It really didn’t feel like 50 years, because the time just flew by.”

Rasumussen’s hire date was March 14, 1973, when she started delivering food to patients at St. Charles’ former location “on the hill” in downtown Bend, near the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Lava Road. The hospital opened its current location in 1975, and soon after, Rasmussen took a job as a cashier in the cafeteria.

“Everyone said, ‘What are you moving out in the farmers’ fields for?’” she said. “There was really nothing out here but cow pasture.”

After 10 years with St. Charles, Rasmussen – whose family moved to Bend when she was 5 – started her career in patient care after she was hired as a therapy tech. Even 40 years later, it’s seeing her patients make progress in their rehab that is the most rewarding thing about her work.

She prides herself on being a strong advocate for her patients.

“I feel very protective of them because they’re why we’re here,” she said. “Patient care is the number one thing.”

Patients aren’t the only people she works with, of course. For Rasmussen, her time at St. Charles has been filled with wonderful fellow caregivers, both past and present. While many things have changed over the years, one thing that remains the same, she said, is “the tightness of the employees.”

On the Ortho/Neuro floor where she works, for example, she feels like everyone – Environmental Services, nurses and so on – is on the same team.

“That’s a good feeling,” she said. “I have absolutely fantastic co-workers.”

Rasmussen is also one of the few remaining St. Charles caregivers who worked with the organization’s famous founder, Sister Catherine, who she describes as “a phenomenal person” who was “dearly loved” by the employees.

“We would have parties at Sunriver and she would ride the bus and she was just a hoot. She was so darn funny,” she said. “She was so loving and kind, and she knew everyone by name. It meant a lot to work here.”