The oldest working nurse in the United States got a warm reception from her colleagues as she turned 90 last week.
Her co-workers gathered at the Tacoma General hospital and she was presented with flowers, a tiara, and a letter of congratulations from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee! The Governor recognized her as the oldest working nurse in the country.
“You are all wonderful,” Rigney said through tears of joy. “I know I’m a pain in the you-know-what!”
A fellow colleague read out a message: ”Florence SeeSee Rigney, our nation’s oldest working registered nurse, SeeSee turns 90 years young tomorrow and still run circles around colleagues half her age after more than six decades of service as an operating room nurse.”
The 90-year-old still works two days a week and joked: “90 years ago I came into this world and here I am. I did my CPR yesterday!”
SeeSee has witnessed decades of incredible advances in technology and have helped care for countless patients. She began in 1946 as a student nurse at Tacoma General School of Nursing.
Nursing was always her dream. “I love nursing,” Rigney said in 2013. “Since I was a little girl, it was something that I always wanted to do.” Little did she know that she would become the oldest working nurse in the US.
In 1946, Penicillin was just becoming widely available. Flu vaccines was a new phenomenon. It would be several years before we would even begin to understand the structure of DNA.
She temporarily left the profession at the age of 67, but her retirement was short-lived.
“I stayed retired for about five months, then I came back, and here I am!” she told KING-TV in a 2014 interview.
SeeSee no longer works directly with patients during surgeries anymore. Her job is now to set up the operating rooms with supplies and equipment for a department that can do 70 surgeries a day.
“I guess I’m kind of a perfectionist,” SeeSee said. “I’m picky. I get on people. I say that I’m here to kind of keep watch on them. They call me their mother.”
Sheri Morris, assistant nurse manager, said Rigney is a valuable asset to the hospital.
“She runs circles around all of us,” Morris told Today.com. “She’s a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, and we absolutely love her.”
SeeSee is her childhood nickname and has stuck over all these years.
What an inspiration! So agile, so enthusiastic, so determined! Happy Birthday SeeSee!
Born in 1925, SeeSee celebrated her 90th birthday on May 8.
The surprise was captured on video and posted to YouTube.