Irene Sutton Retires after 52 years of Service at RMH
Staff nurse Irene Sutton, RN, has retired from RMH after serving expectant mothers and their newborn infants for more than 52 years in the Family Birthplace.
Sutton officially retired at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11. She selected that date and time, she said, because Nov. 11 is her birthday, and also because the number 11 stands for transition. "It can also stand for disorder, meaning you"ve moved but haven't gotten things back into proper order,' she explained.
Sutton appears to be the longest serving nurse to have worked at RMH. A 1959 graduate of the RMH School of Nursing, she has spent nearly her entire career in the RMH Family Birthplace. "As new graduates, we could request three areas in which to work in the hospital," she recalled. "I selected a unit working with older people, and I forget what my second choice was, but my third choice was the maternity ward. In her wisdom, Miss Reilly (E. Virginia Reilly, director of the RMH Department of Nursing at the time) put me in maternity, and it has worked out fine. I've been in the same unit all this time, except for short stints when I would work in a different unit to fill in for someone."
Over the years, Sutton has seen many improvements in the care provided to expectant mothers and newborns. "I think the ability to do earlier testing has been one of the greatest blessings in this area of medicine," she noted. "Nowadays we can detect problems with the mother or the baby much earlier and take care of them, whereas before we were much more limited in what we could do."
She also has seen important changes in the nursing profession. "Some years ago, nursing seemed to have gone through a period when we saw less bedside attention, but the trend of getting nurses back to the bedside seems to be increasing again, especially now that we have computers that allow nurses to do a lot of their charting right at the bedside," she said.
What made her select nursing as a career? "I guess it was just God's plan for me," said Sutton, who grew up just outside of Harrisonburg. "As a child, I would ride by the hospital and think to myself, One day, I'm going to work there.' And I'm not a bit sorry I chose nursing. I enjoy helping people, especially coaching women through labor and letting them know that it can be a pleasant experience."
Sabrina Shiflett, RN, director of the Family Birthplace, said of Sutton, "Recently a patient called and went on and on about what a great nurse Irene is and how Irene eased her fears and anxieties. After 52 years, Irene still has an enthusiasm and passion for providing excellent patient care. She brings a ray of sunshine into any room she enters, she never complains and she is proactive in handling any issues that arise. Although we're sad to see her retire, we all are happy for Irene and wish her the very best."
In retirement, Sutton said she will continue providing care for others. She has two sisters and a brother-in-law who need assistance because of health problems. She also plans to continue going on mission trips with Marilyn Hickey Ministries, an organization she has worked with since 1995, traveling to China six times, as well as South America, Africa and Europe.
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