CU Nursing - Spring/Summer 2022 - 23

23
A L UMNI
GET
TO
KNOW
Dr. Noelle
Dilgarde
Dr. Noelle Dilgarde, a native of Cameroon in Central Africa, comes from a long line of healers and is fluent in French
and English. She came to the US by way of France, England, and Canada. She met her husband, an American, at
a friend's daughter's wedding in Chicago. Unable to communicate well in English, they " talked " mostly by drawing
on a napkin. His artistic skills brought her out of her shell. He convinced her to move to Colorado where he lived.
She took English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to become proficient in English and then went on to nursing
school at CU College of Nursing. They were married for 17 years until he passed away in 2020. She has two
daughters who bring her joy every day. Her oldest daughter will graduate from Harvard College in May, 2022.
in addition to the physical. We determine
if the person can be trusted to
do what they are hired to do. "
Dilgarde reviews the new hire's
pre-employment paperwork, conducts
tests, draws blood, orders
blood work, and assesses their
mental health.
The position is a big shift from primary
care, but one that has allowed
her to work and earn her Doctor
of Nursing Practice and Master in
Public Health degrees while discovering
another side of herself.
" I don't prescribe as I'm not that
person's primary care provider. It's
more on the occupational health
and safety side. I'm really trying to
figure out if they are suitable for this
high-stress position. "
BIOWEAPONS - HOW
THEY ARE DESTROYED
AND WHY THEY EXIST
Because the employees are responsible
for the destruction of deadly
compounds, they must be able to
do the job and be beyond reproach.
After they are screened and hired,
they start the work of destroying the
country's stockpile. Donning personal
protective equipment, they place the
highly toxic chemicals in a detonation
chamber. High heat leaves the munitions
inert. A neutralization process,
followed by a second high-pressure
cleaning is used on mustard gas.
Unfortunately, the US is not alone in
its love affair with chemical weapons
or its need to dispose of them. Like
many countries, our history with
biowarfare began in 1917 during
World War I with the creation of the US
Army's Gas Service Section. Seventyplus
years later, we renounced the
use of chemical weapons by signing
the Chemical Weapons Convention
of 1993. Since then, the US has destroyed
more than 90% of its chemical
weapons stockpile and is anticipated
to complete the process by 2023.
TEMPORARY GIG MIXED WITH
PANDEMIC LEADS TO A NEW PATH
Dilgarde's position in Pueblo was
always a temporary assignment as
the Pueblo plant will process its last
munition in December 2023 and tear
down the site in 2024/2025. But what
she's learned on the job has set her
on a path she didn't know she would
follow. " I fully intended to be a nurse
practitioner working in a clinic or
doctor's office. Seeing patients and
taking care of them. But the pandemic
changed how we provide good care. As
a profession, we've adapted and had
to be more creative. "
According to Dilgarde, " Right now,
it's hard to be proactive in primary
care. We like to touch and hug and
provide care and compassion. The
shift to telehealth because of COVID
was huge. How do you make someone
feel face to face with you in a phone
call? " While primary care has been
challenged by the pandemic, psychiatric
and mental health services seem
to be thriving and perfectly matched
for the telehealth environment.
The pandemic helped her rethink her
goals and future. Dilgarde, a lifelong
learner, is reinventing herself and
preparing for her next position. " I
needed to examine my prospects
and because of the whole person
emphasis in this job, and the focus
on telehealth during COVID, I decided
to pursue psych mental health. " Once
again, she is back at school earning
an advanced degree. This time, a
Master's specializing in psychiatric
mental health from Northern
Kentucky University. She begins
clinical rotations in June.
Dilgarde and
her mother,
Ngaha Onteu
Marie Claire,
celebrate her
graduation. " She
is my support
system, and her
unconditional
support all these
years helped
me achieve my
dreams. "

CU Nursing - Spring/Summer 2022

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