Retired Nurses Return As Nightingales at Baylor Plano

Retired Nurses Return As Nightingales at Baylor Plano

The Dallas Morning News

September 02, 2009

Gigi Steele spent her nursing career at the bedside of cancer patients. Now she’s spending part of her retirement there, too.

“I have a passion for this,” the 72-year-old Plano resident explained. “It’s hard to walk away from a calling, even when you’re retired.”

Steele is one of eight women known as the Nightingales, a recently formed group of retired registered nurses who volunteer at Baylor Hospital at Plano. They provide the personal attention to patients and families that the busy medical staff sometimes can’t give.

The Nightingales range in age from 49 to 73 and have 182 years of nursing experience among them. Every Tuesday, the blue-vested women can be seen throughout the hospital, stepping into patient rooms, consulting with the staff members or holding the hands of new arrivals in the emergency room.

Though retired nurses often individually volunteer their talents at immunization clinics or disaster relief centers, Baylor officials say the Nightingales are the only such organized volunteer nurses program at a Texas hospital and one of just a handful in the country.

The Baylor program is on the leading edge of what experts on volunteerism see as an emerging trend.

“When boomers retire from meaningful careers, they’ll look for volunteer opportunities that allow them to use their job skills and talents,” said Julie Thomas, chief executive of the Volunteer Center of North Texas. “Nonprofit organizations will need to engage this generation.”

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