Windsor Regional Hospital nurse retiring after five decades on the front lines of healthcare

·2 min read

After 49 years, one of Windsor Regional Hospital's longest serving nurses has put on her scrubs for the last time.

Mary Lou Henderson, 70, who lives in Amherstburg, has worked at Windsor Regional Hospital for the last 20 years of her career, but this last week was her last.

In the last five decades she has spent in nursing, Henderson thought she had seen it all — AIDS, SARS, H1N1—- but her final year on the job was like nothing she had ever experienced.

"This COVID has changed the whole healthcare profession ... because we are so focused on trying to get this virus under control," she said.

Submitted by Mary Lou Henderson
Submitted by Mary Lou Henderson

Henderson started training in 1969 at the old Grace hospital. To celebrate her final week, her colleagues decided to surprise her.

"I was like, 'I got to do something for her so that .. she knows she's special, that she knows she's loved and that she knows she's appreciated," said Isabelle Graham, who has worked with Henderson for more than 4 years.

Henderson was picked up in a limo, given flowers by Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj and met with signs from her colleagues.

"She kept saying 'I don't deserve this' and we kept saying 'yes you do,'" Graham said.

Henderson said she was stepping away from her role to care for her husband, who has some health struggles, and to avoid the hospital's new computer system that's set to be in place next year.

Though she has her reasons, the decision comes with mixed emotions.

Submitted by Windsor Regional Hospital
Submitted by Windsor Regional Hospital

"There are so many patients that have touched my heart ... to this day I have families come up to me and reflect that I took care of their loved one ... and for them to remember me it's just special," she said.

"I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best nurses ... I have been blessed with having a profession that has never been a job to me, it's always been something that I wanted and something that I was passionate about."