No Sick Day In 60 Years, No Retirement For Oakland Hospital Worker

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Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland (Coolcaesar/Wikipedia Commons)

OAKLAND (KCBS) – Meet Elena Griffing. You could call her a loyal member of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center staff in Oakland. How loyal? She started working at the hospital when Harry Truman was in the White House. And she hasn’t stopped working since.

Making her 65-year tenure even more remarkable – she hasn’t taken a single sick day in nearly 60 years.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

She was hired in 1946, at the age of 20. Gasoline was 21-cents per gallon and Alta Bates, for whom the hospital was named, was one of the head nurses.

Monday afternoon at the Alta Bates Berkeley campus auditorium, the hospital paid tribute to Griffing, 85, celebrating her six-and-a-half decades on the job as an office and administrative assistant.

“She’s an inspiration to all of us,” declared Alta Bates CEO David Bradley. “She wants to work five more years and then go part-time.”

Does that mean retirement is on the horizon?

“Not even in my vocabulary,” she scoffed.

“I go to bed at 1 o’clock and I’m up at 6, seven days a week,” she described her routine. “I don’t want to waste time sleeping.”

Equally impressive is the fact that she has gone so many decades without calling in sick. What’s her secret? Clean living and a passion for helping others.

“You’ve got to do the best you can do every day. Because you never can get into trouble that way,” she reasoned.

“I have a marvelous time, I love it. This is my hospital.”

100 or so hospital employees took part in Monday’s celebration, held in the medical center’s auditorium. A Frank Sinatra impersonator was even brought in to serenade Griffing, who is “mildly obsessed” with the legendary crooner.

The celebration, like her life, was described as a lot of fun.

“It’s no fun if you don’t jump in with both feet and just get a hoot out of everything,” she declared. “And that’s the way I am, I just have the best time.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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