Oldest Working Nurse in America Hangs Up Her Scrubs After 70 Years

More than 70 years after her career began, 96-year-old Florence “SeeSee” Rigney, the oldest working nurse in America, is retiring, MultiCare Health System announced today.  Her last day was Friday, July 16, 2021.

“I don’t like to sit around – I’ve always got to have something to do. That’s my nature,” Rigney’s said. “I don’t know exactly what made me want to become a nurse, but it was something that I always wanted to do. I love to interact with patients and give them the help that I can.”

In her retirement, she’s looking forward to enjoying her family and friends. Rigney’s witnessed countless changes and medical innovations since she first put on the white uniform of a student nurse in the Tacoma General School of Nursing. And her legacy will live on to inspire the next generation of nurses.

In appreciation for her service to the nursing profession, MultiCare Health System is establishing the SeeSee Rigney Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide scholarships to MultiCare nurses for continued learning and development and for MultiCare employees who would like to pursue a career in nursing.

“Even working into her nineties, SeeSee has never been one to slow down. Some of her colleagues joked that they had to sprint to keep up with her,” said Laureen Driscoll, president of MultiCare Tacoma General and Allenmore Hospitals. “She’s continued to be a dedicated nurse and an incredible resource to her colleagues and community. It’s humbling to stop and think about the thousands and thousands of lives she’s cared for. Everyone at MultiCare thanks SeeSee for her unmatched dedication and service, and we’re proud to honor her by supporting tomorrow’s future nurses.”

Her career has taken her across the country, from Washington to Texas to Wyoming, with small breaks to care for her family. Rigney has two children.  As an operating room nurse, Rigney was responsible setting up operating rooms to the specifications of surgeons and prepping patients for surgery, such as positioning them on the operating table. During her shifts, she was always active, frequently walking more than three miles or more according to her Fitbit. And she was always the first to jump to a task. When and pregnant nurse made a call to hospital nurses to help her move a patient, Rigney, in her nineties, was the first to show up.

Rigney did try to slow down once. When she was 65, she turned in her retirement papers. But that only lasted for about six months. She knew she needed to get back in action to stay sharp and active. She came back to Tacoma General to work full time and only within the last couple years switched to part time, continuing to prep surgery rooms and patients, part time. She worked again as an operating room nurse, preparing rooms for surgery and filling in as a relief nurse.

When Rigney started nursing, penicillin had just been introduced. One of the biggest changes in medicine that she’s seen is the duration of patient stays. In the old days, she said, patients could stay for 10 days or longer after surgery. Now most go home in a day or two, thanks to advances in modern medicine and in-home care options.

In a career spanning 70 years, you pick up quite a bit of knowledge and Rigney has some to share with future nurses.

“Don’t ever think that you know it all,” she said. “I kind of did that when I was in the operating room and you have to always be open. You never stop learning.”

Clothing as Communication at All Ages

With the pandemic forcing many to spend so much time at home, you may not have given fashion much thought over the past year. If there is one thing that we have learned during the pandemic, however, it is the importance of communication. From the cut of our hair to the clothes and jewelry we wear, everything we do visually is a form of communication. Actively engaging in that communication can have a surprisingly positive effect on our state of mind.

Cognitive psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinksy, from Northwestern University, examined the psychological effects that wearing specific articles of clothing have on the person wearing them. Adam and Galinsky identified the phenomenon called “Enclothed Cognition” which relates to the effect that clothing has upon a person’s mental process and the way they think, feel, and function, in areas like attention, confidence, or abstract thinking.

Much of the world is now facing the same challenge that professionals leaving the workforce for retirement have faced for generations — how do you maintain your identity when your home has suddenly become your whole world?

You may have thought that you have been dressing to impress other people for all of those years, but the truth is, clothing has a significant impact on our self-image. The way we dress, even when we do not directly interact with other people, can have a notable effect on productivity, energy levels, confidence and overall sense of well-being.

You may not want to wear a suit and tie or your best high heels around the house, but if wearing well-tailored clothing and nice jewelry is part of the routine that gives you confidence and brings order to your day, it is important to keep up the habit.

With so many style icons joining the ranks of the “over-60 crowd,” there is no shortage of inspiration for maintaining a wardrobe that keeps you feeling fresh and inspired at every age and stage of life.

Jane Seymour, Phylicia Rashad, Priscilla Presley and Helen Mirren all make life over 60 look like the most fun they’ve ever had with fashion. At 75, Mirren is proof that confidence comes with age and experience. “I used to worry a lot more about my looks than I do now – when you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. I think the great advantage of getting older is that you let go of certain things.”

ANGELA BYRGE

Not A Dry Eye at Tumwater Eye Center

Many of us share a common, elusive problem—Dry Eye Disease (DED), a condition caused by poor tear production. Over 16 million Americans were diagnosed with the syndrome in 2020 alone. For the last 26 years, the doctors at Tumwater Eye Center have been providing quality eye care and treating patients for this irritating condition. Dr. Douglas Jeske and Dr. Devin Finch assured us that, “We strive to get to the root cause for each patient’s DED. We utilize technology to image the oil glands and assess oil gland function.”

Several factors contribute to the development of DED, such as environment, medications, outside health issues and contact lens use. The most frequent cause of DED is the progressive loss of oil-producing glands in the eyelids that may come with aging; this helps explain why 50% of Tumwater Eye Center’s patients over the age of 50 experience symptoms. Be forewarned, though, while aging is a significant factor in DED, younger people are susceptible, as exorbitant use of mobile and computer devices is a guilty agent.

Burning, scratchy sensations, blurred vision, redness, and watery eyes are a few symptoms of DED, and, if it goes untreated, complications with corneal surface damage and infection can occur. Take proactive and preventative measures and look to Tumwater Eye Center’s expertise. Tumwater Eye Center’s treatment for patients is based on the cause of DED and may include prescription medications, nutritional supplements, lid hygiene, and advanced procedures like LIPIFLOW® to reset the oil glands.

Tumwater Eye Center has experienced, dedicated staff. For the last three years in a row, the Center won the Outstanding Dry Eye Practice Award, 1 of 27 awards out of over a thousand practices. If you suspect you may be suffering from DED, don’t hesitate; schedule a visit at Tumwater Eye Center today. The Center follows CDC protocol and staff members received the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure patient safety.

For Additional Information
tumwatereye.com

NATALIE BENSON

Expressions at Olympic Alzheimers

Caring for a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can take a toll. From their safety to their ability to relate to people around them, those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia are seeing their worlds change around them, and they are often unsure how to process it.

If it’s time to consider specialized care for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, Olympic Alzheimer’s Residence boasts Prestige Senior Living’s award-winning Expressions memory care program. Expressions uses innovative techniques and approaches to turn daily activities into memorable and meaningful events.

By placing an emphasis on community as a vital part of the Expressions experience and fostering friendships among residents, Olympic Alzheimer’s helps residents find value and purpose.

Expressions is founded on five key principles used every day to engage residents’ minds, bodies and souls:

HEALTHY EXPRESSIONS: Exercise and physical activity are shown to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so the program focuses on regular physical expression, which they recommend twice a day.

TASTY EXPRESSIONS: In addition to nutrition, food also provides a chance for socialization and opportunities to reminisce about favorite foods and recipes. It is a wonderful way to stimulate the senses.

ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS: Tapping into our creative side is important to a fulfilling life – and the program encourages residents to find their passion in arts, poetry and music. In fact, research has established that those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias often experience a spike in creativity.

EDUCATIONAL EXPRESSIONS: Residents are encouraged to continue their path of lifelong learning. Even those who are forgetful still enjoy the experience of learning.

SPIRITUAL EXPRESSIONS: Residents are provided with activities that develop inner peace through their own spiritual journey, which means different things to different people. It could be through a higher being, or an experience of awe, focused attention, or mental discipline.

If the time is right to consider specialized care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Olympic Alzheimer’s Residence has the programs in place to provide a comforting and fulfilling life while caring for your loved one’s physical and emotional needs.

Olympic Alzheimer’s Residence is located in Gig Harbor, just one mile from Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Their quiet surroundings provide a peaceful sanctuary for their residents.

For Additional Information
prestigecare.com | 253.851.5306

Staying Healthy Post-Lockdown

As more people in the United States are vaccinated against COVID-19, and some areas experience a slowdown in virus infections, the nation is slowly starting to reopen. According to health care professionals, post-lockdown life should start with taking stock of your own health.

“It’s a great time to do a (health) reboot,” said Dr. Kathryn M. Rexrode, chief of the division of women’s health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “We did the best to cope and get through this extraordinary year, and now we can think about how we start to heal and re-engage in our own health.”

Here’s how.

Know your numbers

Keep track of your blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C, which is a measure of average blood sugar over the prior three months.

While blood pressure and weight can be tracked at home, a doctor’s visit may be the easiest way to get the most up-to-date measurements of total cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.

“Because we’ve been less active in many cases and because our eating patterns have been less healthy, those things definitely could have gotten out of whack,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, a cardiologist, epidemiologist and chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Unless you get with your doctor and measure them carefully, you won’t know your numbers, and you won’t know what you need to address.”

Schedule cancer screenings

Rexrode, a primary care doctor, urged people to schedule any necessary or overdue mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies and other cancer screening tests, which many postponed during the pandemic.

“We may have missed opportunities to pick up cancer at an earlier stage when treatment is usually easier and less invasive than if we detect it at a later stage,” she said. Most states allow residents to schedule their own screenings. “It’s important to review that list and see what you’re overdue for.”

Indeed, in March 2020 alone, more than 800 lung cancer screening appointments at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center were postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. When testing resumed later that year, 29% of people had suspicious nodules versus 8% before the pandemic.

Even more people should now be screened for lung cancer after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its recommendations for low-dose CT scans for lung cancer. The task force urges screenings in people ages 50-80 who have a 20 pack-year or more smoking history and currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years.

A pack-year is an average of one pack of cigarettes a day per year. So, one pack per day for 20 years or two packs a day for a decade would each equal 20 pack-years.

See the dentist

An American Dental Association survey found three-quarters of respondents postponed dental checkups during the spring of 2020, and more than 12% avoided the dentist even though something was bothering them.

That may have far-reaching effects that go beyond your pearly whites.

“Chronic inflammation of the gums can introduce whole-body inflammation, and there are some links to an increase in cardiovascular disease,” Rexrode said. “Taking care of your teeth is an investment for your future self.”

Address mental health

Mental health also has taken a hit during the pandemic, with self-reported depression and anxiety way up. “The pandemic and the stresses and strains of isolation, the loss of jobs and, in some cases, homes have magnified the problems of mental health,” said Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association.

He advised people struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health problems to reconnect with their therapist or to talk with their primary care doctor, a social worker or a social service organization in their community.

“There are many ways to start to get connected, but it’s important to acknowledge you’re having a problem and get involved in the care pathway,” he said. “The earlier you identify a problem and get connected, the sooner we can get help for you.”

Get moving

A recent study in JAMA Network Open of measurements from internet-connected smart scales suggests shelter-in-place orders may have impacted waistlines, with adults gaining more than half a pound every 10 days. Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and many cancers.

That’s why it’s important to get moving. Vaccinated people can safely return to the gym, Lloyd-Jones said, although he advised people to stick with facilities that enforce social distancing and wearing masks.

Or, with the weather getting warmer, he pointed out exercise is as easy as taking a walk around the block.

In addition, both Rexrode and Lloyd-Jones advise their patients to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources while minimizing processed items, fast food and sugary drinks.

“We need to give ourselves a pass for the last year and get back on track,” Lloyd-Jones said. “When you take control of things by exercising or eating healthier, you’ll start to feel better remarkably quickly.”

TATE GUNNERSON

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

YMCA Opens Shelton Branch

What started out over 20 years ago as the vision of volunteers and community members to create positive youth and family activities in Shelton is now a reality.  On March 1, 2021, the Shelton Family YMCA opened its doors.

Creating a “Place for all to Belong” for the Shelton community during a pandemic was not ideal, but the local team persevered and overcame.  Local autonomy within a massive organization like the YMCA allowed them to set goals and plan the design for the new YMCA facility located on North Shelton Springs Road.

According to Jake Grater, Executive Director of Branch Operations, “Our design goals were simple.  Build something that brings the entire community together and creates a sense of belonging.”   Layer that on top of the local and national organization’s goals of diversity and inclusion, and the team created a space that is welcoming and engaging.

“We were fortunate to have the experience of 2,700 other YMCA’s across the country.  We created a space that is an open concept, yet an intimate space,” said Grater.  The design utilizes lots of imagery to make people feel like the space was built for them.

Since it was founded in 1844, the Y has constantly evolved to meet the unique needs in each of the communities it serves.  “This commitment to serving all people is core to who we are and our mission,” added Grater.

The new Shelton YMCA is an efficient building designed to minimize operating expenses.  This approach allows the team to deploy resources towards mission work instead of maintenance work.  For example, there is no carpeting in the building, which allows for better hygiene, easier cleaning, and no long-term replacement expense.

As the first YMCA in the area, the Shelton Family YMCA joins three other Y branches within the South Sound Association, which includes the Plum Street Y, the Briggs Community Y, and the Youth & Community Development Branch, which is affectionately referred to as ‘the Y without walls.’

Everyone is invited to come visit the new Shelton Family YMCA.  For more information about the new facility and its vast amenities, visit southsoundymca.org. By Lynn Castle

Auburn Medical Center: 100 Years of Caring

This week, MultiCare Auburn Medical Center is celebrating 100 years of providing care to the community in South King County!

“In 1921, two physicians recognized a need for health care in Auburn and partnered to build a progressive health care system that has provided care to our community for generations,” said Mark Smith, president of MultiCare Auburn Medical Center and MultiCare Covington Medical Center. “We are grateful that the people across South King County view us as a trusted choice for their care and know that we will continue to offer innovative medical care.”

When the hospital first opened its doors in 1921, it had 46 beds and the area’s first emergency ambulance. The hospital was called Taylor-Lacey Hospital after its founders, doctors Owen Taylor and Martin Lacey. Throughout the past century, hospital owners have invested in growth and improved technologies to provide the best care available.

Today, Auburn Medical Center offers a multitude of services and specialties, and features 195 beds, eight operating rooms and 24/7 emergency services. Last year, Auburn Medical Center opened its state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, the only one of its kind in the West Coast.

“We strive every day to uphold the founding ideals of this hospital through the care and services we now provide to the people of Auburn and the surrounding communities,” said Bill Robertson, president and CEO of MultiCare Health System. “All of us at MultiCare are grateful to Drs. Taylor and Lacey for their vision; the caregivers who came before us during the hospital’s century of service; and for the privilege of being part of this community’s storied history.”

Quick facts about Auburn Medical Center:

  • The original hospital building cost $50,000 to construct in 1921. Auburn’s population then was just over 3,000 people and the 2021 population is now 80,814.
  • In 1945, the hospital was called Auburn General and had 13 doctors on staff. The hospital was the only building in Auburn with an elevator at the time.
  • LifeCenter Northwest, an organization that facilitates organ, eye and tissue donations across the Northwest and Alaska, awarded Auburn Medical Center the Collaboration Achievement Award, which recognizes hospital collaboration on conversations about organ donation with families.

The Auburn community can celebrate this centennial all year long by visiting multicare.org/100-years-of-caring to view special virtual displays about the hospital’s founding, read stories from employees throughout the years, and submit baby photos to a virtual Auburn Medical Center baby album.

Simple Ways For Seniors To Stay Fit at Home

Staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 means that we’re not able to engage in our normal physical activities like going to a gym, participating in group classes, or playing sports. Being more sedentary can take its toll on our health, especially for older adults, but there are ways to stay fit and active while staying home.

Start by looking for ways to incorporate strength training or cardio workouts into your everyday activities. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests using your own body weight to your advantage by combining household tasks with extra movement, such as:

  • Doing heel raises in front of the sink when washing the dishes
  • Before putting your groceries away, using the full bags to add resistance to biceps curls or front shoulder raises
  • Taking advantage of commercial breaks when watching TV to complete a cardio circuit in your home, including chair sit-stands, a lap around the house (with stairs if available), and chair or wall push-ups
  • During your favorite streaming show, try seated knee lifts, kicks, foot slides, punches or arm circles

If you prefer more structure for your exercise routine, it’s easy to find a live or on-demand online class for nearly every interest—from Zumba to Silver Sneakers to yoga.

If you have a membership with a local health and fitness organization, like the YMCA, many are offering online classes as a member benefit. In addition, numerous free class options can be found on YouTube through a simple search or on popular websites, such as AARP.com.

Movement is an important tool for reducing stress and improving overall health, which helps us to cope with the anxiety and isolation of the pandemic. Take advantage of opportunities to be active throughout your day and you’ll soon find that a few minutes here and there can add up to better well-being.

One reminder about getting creative with your at-home exercise: don’t get hurt. Pay attention to how your body is feeling as you work out and don’t overdo it.

BY MARTINA PRESTON

Yoga and meditation in your workday

Right now, working and studying from home and managing through a pandemic is stressful. It’s more important now than ever to take care of your mental and physical health in these trying times. Yoga is growing in popularity as people experience the benefits of the practice, meditation and breathwork. Benefits include:

• Managing stress and promoting clarity and improved focus and attention span. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your task list, sometimes a time-out is just what the mind needs to regroup and get back on track.

• Promoting an awareness around the important mind/body relationship so you can pay closer attention to the signals your body is giving you. For example, are your shoulders up by your ears as you are talking to your boss? Try to relax by softening your shoulders and jaw, and take 3 to 5 slow deep breaths.

• Yoga creates strength and flexibility while fostering relaxation to reduce injury and improve well-being. Tension in the body can lead to tension in the mind.

• Yoga improves balance, energy, vitality and circulation. Feeling sluggish? Get up for a few minutes and move and stretch your body. Your mind and body will thank you!

Here are some tips to get you started:

• Start small. Studies show that just 5 to 10 minutes of quiet conscious breathing can help reduce your stress response.

• Go easy on the java! Our morning cup of joe can help get us started, but overdoing it can actually cause a stress response in the body and get our mind going too fast. Some warm lemon water or tea is a great substitute.

• Get some movement in and keep your blood flowing. Make sure to stretch your neck, shoulders, and chest for suppleness.

• Silence your phone for 5 or 10 minutes and enjoy the quiet whisper of your own breath.

For Additional Information
Tuladhara Yoga
tuladharayoga.com/classes/mobile-yoga
info@tuladharayoga.com

Code Lavender: Caring for our Caregivers

Caring for the community during a pandemic can take a toll on frontline and other essential health care heroes.

“There were days when you just wanted to cry, because these patients that you work so hard on to get them better, they weren’t going to get better,” Heidi Strub, RT, at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, shares.

“It was not difficult just emotionally, it was draining physically,” Max Ceban, RT, at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, adds. “It’s a dark memory in my life.”

It is because of this very reason that MultiCare has created the Code Lavender program to provide mental health and emotional support for health care workers.

Code Lavender is a donor-powered program that began in 2016 to provide peer-to-peer incident stress management following a traumatic event. Led by a team of physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers and mental health counselors, Code Lavender offers debriefings, educational presentations, reflection rounds and spiritual care to help employees reduce stress and avoid burnout.

“People will share their heart for a minute, and then they go back to being brave, back into that role of being a hero,” MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital Chaplain, Jim Cornwell, says. Code Lavender is important for “sitting beside and being there in the little windows when they just need to process something.”

Today, Code Lavender has grown to include a 24/7 employee support hotline and twice-weekly virtual leadership roundtables to talk through challenges and strategize for success.

Gifts through the MultiCare Health Foundation help Code Lavender expand even further. Donations will help broaden educational, psychological and spiritual resources and extend the program’s geographical reach to MultiCare employees serving in the Inland Northwest.

For Additional Information
MultiCare Health System
multicare.org

BY SHELBY TAYLOR