Love of work keeps 84 year-old on the job - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Love of work keeps 84 year-old on the job

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March 17, 2004

Albany - Most of us dream of the day we can retire. But, an 84 year-old Albany woman says quitting work would be more of a nightmare for her. Helen Vann Browning has been working at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital for nearly a half century.

As Browning places blood samples in a high-tech machine, she smiles and remembers when she once injected samples into rabbits, a test to determine if a woman was pregnant. "We would cut it open and look at the ovaries. If the ladies was pregnant, the rabbit's ovary would have little beads on it, like bird shots," said Browning.

Rabbits were soon replaced by frogs, which came with more challenges. "They would hop all over the place, and we would chase them down the hall."

She earned just $275 a month when she was first hired as a medical technologist at Phoebe Putney in 1957. And nearly 47 years later, she still work full-time. "On Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays I do hepatitis test, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do HIVs," said Browning.

She's seen technology change, four hospital administrators come and go, and new diseases thrive. "When we first started doing HIVs, if I would get a positive on a baby I would just stand there and cry. I couldn't stand it."

She never a thought of retirement. "After all the years out here, what would I do at home. I love this work." It's not about the money, just a love of the career and her co-workers. "They'll see me in hall and want to push me around. I never turn down a free ride."

So, when does she plan to stop working? "I like to take a vacation for a few days at a time. But, this is my world, and it has been for nearly half a century."

On April 1, 2004, Helen will celebrate her 47th anniversary at Phoebe Putney. And, the hospital says she can stay as long as she wants.

Helen Browning also made time for family. She has 4 children, 12 grandchildren,14 great-grandchildren, and even one great-great-grandchild with another one on the way.

Posted at 6:30PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com