A woman believed to be the nation’s oldest working nurse retired from a hospital in Tacoma, Wash. At the age of 96, according to NBC affiliate KING-TV.
Florence “See See” Rigney worked for over 70 years as a nurse at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital.
She began her career as an operating room nurse, just as penicillin was introduced into the world of healthcare. Since then she has had very few “breaks” from her job, taking only one or two breaks to care for her children, and a not so successful attempt to retire, which only lasted six. months over 30 years ago, according to the local news station.
“I don’t like to sit still, I always have to have something to do. It’s my nature,” Rigney told the local affiliate. “I’m not sure exactly what made me want to become a nurse, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love interacting with patients and giving them whatever help I can.”
She is recognized by her peers as someone who always wants to step in and help. Eager to stay active, she regularly walks at least 5 km.
“Some of her colleagues joked that they had to sprint to follow her,” Laureen Driscoll, president of MultiCare Tacoma General and Allenmore hospitals, told KING-TV. “She has continued to be a dedicated nurse and an incredible resource to her colleagues and the community. It is humbling to stop and think about the thousands and thousands of lives she has taken care of.”
In all of her years, Rigney said, the biggest change she’s seen in healthcare has been the time patients spend in hospital after surgery, according to the local affiliate. Whereas in the past, patients could stay for 10 days or more, now most patients go home after just a few days.
Still, as the years have brought a lot of change, it seems she was able to “keep pace” with an open mind.
“Never think you know everything,” Rigney said while offering advice to young nurses. “I kind of did it when I was in the operating room, and you always have to be open. You never stop learning.”
Rigney Hospital is withdrawing from plans to honor its legacy and dedication to its work by creating a scholarship in its name for nurses and employees of MultiCare Tacoma General who wish to pursue nursing for lifelong learning and development, according to the local news station. The scholarship will be officially named the SeeSee Rigney Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund.