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91-year-old nurse still helping others

December 5, 2008 9:08:38 AM PST
Nursing has been described as both a science and an art focused on maintaining life at its highest quality. No one knows that better than Catherine Washington. Washington graduated as a nurse 69 years ago. In 1993 she became a volunteer at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is the oldest and longest serving volunteer there. Washington turns 91-years old on New Year's Day.

"After I stopped nursing when I left the operating rooms of Mount Sinai, I still wanted to be a service to someone because I felt this was a blessing and a gift given (to) me so I'm still trying to use it," said Catherine Washington, hospital volunteer.

Growing up in Maryland-- where she lived for a time with her grandmother and grandfather, who was once a slave-- she made history when she became the first black nurse in county hospitals operating room.

"I'm a country girl. At home I do all my own house work. I also shovel snow. I also wash my kitchen...and I work in the yard all summer," said Catherine Washington.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. In 2005 she received the phenomenal woman for medicine award from the Chicago Today's Black Woman Expo.

Sherry Iverson is director of the hospital's volunteer services.

"Being a volunteer at the age of 91 and coming here religiously every week? and just showing the staff and showing other volunteers that she can do it...that she has the energy and the will to do it is just an inspiration," said Sherry Iversen, director of volunteer services.

"I enjoy this. I am giving God's blessings to me. I am trying to give something back," said Catherine Washington.


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