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Oldest Working Nurse Talks on Baptist's 100 Years of Medicine

Baptist Memorial Health Care will celebrate 100 years of care on July 22, 2012. As you can imagine plenty has changed in the medical field since 1912 and one nurse can attest to that. She's been working at Baptist for more than half a century.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Baptist Memorial Health Care will celebrate 100 years of care on July 22, 2012. It has grown from 500 beds to nearly 3,000 in 14 hospitals all over the Mid-South.

As you can imagine plenty has changed in the medical field since 1912. One nurse can attest to that. She's been working at Baptist for more than half a century.

Helen Deneka is 86-years-old. She remembers when air conditioning was first installed at the hospital. It was a big deal. She says the fast-pace technology hasn't slowed her down one bit. She's among the 13,000 people who come to work at Baptist everyday.

"I've been nursing 65 years and all the time I've worked with Baptist,” Deneka told abc24.com.

In fact, she's made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest practicing nurse in the U.S.

"Oh gosh, well that’s wonderful. I’m a little embarrassed but it’s great,” she said.

Baptist Memorial Health Care CEO Stephen Reynolds says it is workers like Deneka that make the hospital succeed year after year, "Men and women who are dedicated in making a difference in people's lives,” he said.

Even at 86 years old, Deneka works full time. She says she has a good memory, feels great, and tries to learn new things.

"I've worked in surgery, worked in the recovery room, circulating surgery, and now I’m in ambulatory surgery. I do enjoy that very much,” she said.

Over the years, Baptist has kept pace with state of the art equipment. It was the first hospital in the Mid-South to perform robotic surgeries in 2003. Deneka admits it can be difficult to catch up with the ever changing technology.

"I'm not real good on a computer,” Deneka laughed.

Just like the hospital founders, the CEO plans to keep growing.

“The next 100 years we will dream again very big. We'll try to find new and unique ways to take care of patients,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says there is a new "Memory Care Center" in the works at Baptist Memphis. The center will help people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

As far as Deneka's future with Baptist, she plans to retire in the next two years.

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