Jean Kingery, recently retired registered nurse from AdventHealth Hinsdale. Photo courtesy AdventHealth Hinsdale
In fact, she was born at this hospital as were all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Two of her granddaughters also have worked at Hinsdale and another granddaughter works at AdventHealth La Grange.
When Jean retired April 1, 2022, at age 84, she wrote a letter to her colleagues, expressing her joy and gratitude for her career. She said in the letter, “What an exciting career it’s been, welcoming those who come to us as a couple and leave us as a family. I often said to my patients, ‘Who else gets to see a miracle every day at work?’ It’s indeed a very special place.”
She found meaning even during times of sorrow, caring for those who experienced loss. “They are so heartbroken, and you have the reward of helping them get through that ordeal.”
Jean started her career in October 1977 after becoming a licensed practical nurse through a program at the hospital; ten years later, she became a registered nurse.
Jean believes strongly that God has guided her life and felt at home at Hinsdale. “I just felt like it was family there, like it wasn’t just a job for the people,” she said.
During her nearly 45 years of service, Jean saw a lot of changes. “The hardest change was computers,” she said. “I have had five different computer systems and learned all of them—all painfully.”
Despite changes, the essential nature of her work remained the same. Supporting mothers, many of whom were frightened and worried, was her favorite part of her job. “I was always calm, even when the mothers were not, and they believed I knew what I was doing,” she said.
She helped deliver countless babies and shared her experience and perspective with all the young nurses who came after her. As years passed, she began to think about how long she could continue to work.
“I never felt like I was working,” she said. “I loved my job. And if you love your job, you don’t want to leave it.” She put that decision in God’s hands.
“Every day when I went into work, I prayed God would make me a blessing to someone and give me the strength to do my job,” she said. “As I got older, I prayed God would show me when it should be over, because I didn’t want to quit.”
As the years passed, the night shifts she always worked began to take a greater toll, leaving her more and more tired at the end of each shift.
“I thought, ‘Lord, I hear you.’ I called and gave my two-week notice.”
As a self-proclaimed “people person,” she worried how she would adjust to retirement after her long and satisfying career. But she found a way to connect with her community, becoming very active in her church. Before retiring, she volunteered at her church to listen to children recite Bible verses they memorized, and she continues to do that. She also stays in touch with her former colleagues and looks for other ways to be helpful and stay connected.
“I am waiting for the Lord to show me what else He has for me,” she said. “I know He will show me because He has shown me all my life what He wants me to do.”
When people ask her how she likes retirement, she notes, “This is not retirement. It’s the final chapter of my life, and I want to make it as good as the other chapters.”
Julie Busch is assistant vice president of Marketing & Communications for the Great Lakes Region of AdventHealth.