Nurse Anesthetists at McLeod Dillon Celebrate 150 Years of Providing Quality and Excellence in Anesthesia Care


Administering anesthesia across the United States for 150 years, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) from McLeod Medical Center Dillon, Dillon, SC, and thousands of their colleagues from around the country are celebrating this year’s 16th annual National CRNA Week campaign taking place, January 25 – 31, 2015.

With a history spanning back to the Civil War, nurse anesthetists have remained at the head of the table every moment of their patients’ procedures, administering their anesthetics, monitoring their vital signs, and helping to ensure that each year millions of patients receive the safest anesthesia care possible.

"As CRNAs we administer anesthesia to patients undergoing cardiac, neurological, oral, and labor and delivery surgeries just to name a few. Regardless of the setting, nurse anesthetists apply same high standards of care are applied," Joe Villeneuve, Lead CRNA at McLeod Dillon. "It is a privilege to be a part of a profession that is dedicated to providing a safe anesthetic and has historically played a pivotal role in every facet of anesthesia advancement."

Joe, a native of Massachusetts, worked at McLeod Dillon as a free lance CRNA from 1990-1993. During that time he had a chance to get to know the surgeons and staff. When an opening for a full-time position was available in 2000, Joe accepted. Enjoying the SC weather, Joe spends time on the golf course when he is not at work.

"The profession of anesthesia chose me," said Joe. "When I was working as a registered nurse in an Emergency Room, I received a call asking if I could fill a vacancy in the anesthesia program at Quincy City Hospital School of Anesthesia."

Prior to his nursing career, Joe served in the United States Air Force, which he enlisted in during the middle of the Vietnam War in 1967. "Through the military, I was able to attend nursing school and later attend anesthesia school," recalled Joe. "After graduating, I was able to practice anesthesia for fourteen years at Mass General Hospital’s Eye and Ear Infirmary. It was an excellent clinical experience."

Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses who administer more than 34 million anesthetics in the United States each year. Practicing in every setting in which anesthesia is available, CRNAs practice with a great deal of autonomy, and they are the sole anesthesia professionals in the vast majority of rural hospitals.

As the main hands-on provider of anesthesia care in both military and civilian settings, CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is administered. That includes but is not limited to hospital operating and delivery rooms; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons; pain management centers, and within the U.S. Military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

"One of the many rewards of being a nurse anesthetist is providing patients with the comfort of knowing that I will be by their side monitoring their vital signs and adjusting their anesthetics to ensure a pain free and safe anesthesia experience," said Lionel Rajotte, CRNA at McLeod Dillon. "National CRNA Week serves as an opportunity to inform the public exactly what CRNAs do and who we are."

Lionel’s first experience with anesthesia was during his military service. He served in the United States Army from 1965-1968 where he was discharged as an E5 Medic. He later returned to duty from 1986-1990 where served as a Captain for the Army National Guard. During his service, he served in France, Germany and Vietnam and was activated fro Desert Storm. "When I was in Vietnam, I was enticed by watching a Major give anesthesia."

A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Lionel wanted to move to South Carolina and work at a small, acute care hospital. "I began my career at McLeod Dillon in 1992, and I am here to stay. In my opinion, this is the best hospital in the world." When not at McLeod Dillon, Lionel enjoys spending time with his nine year old granddaughter Laila, golfing and traveling.

Jane Ziegler, CRNA at McLeod Dillon, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She worked closely with the anesthesia providers at a women’s hospital in Cleveland early in her nursing career. "The job looked both challenging and rewarding," recalled Jane. "I made the decision to pursue my Master’s Degree in Anesthesia, and it has been the best decision I could have made. I was very fortunate to have a school close to my home at the time. I had three children whose ages ranged from seven to sixteen years old at the time I entered the twenty eight month program. I was fortunate to have the love and support of my husband and family as I pursued my dream."

Jane chose McLeod Dillon because of the family-like work atmosphere. "The employees and physicians at McLeod Dillon are an excellent group of people to work with daily."

"I take pride in belonging to a profession that has been at the forefront of anesthesia patient safety for 150 years. CRNAs play a key role in developing trends related to monitoring technology, anesthetic drugs, and standards of care. In fact, due to continuing research and education, anesthesia today is nearly 50 times safer than it was 20 years ago," said Jane. Outside of work, Jane enjoys running and working out, baking and reading.

National CRNA Week was established by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), and was created to encourage CRNAs to take the opportunity to educate the public about anesthesia safety, questions to ask prior to undergoing surgery, and the benefits of receiving anesthesia care from a nurse anesthetist. To learn more about the AANA visit

About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., the AANA is the professional organization representing more than 48,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs safely administer more than 34 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year. For more information, visit