Elena Griffing has worked at the same hospital for 71 years with no signs of slowing down

For more than 70 years, Elena Griffing has been strutting down the halls of the Sutter Health Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in her kitten heels, tending to patients and fellow colleagues.

“She’s the heart and soul of this place,” Steve O’Brien, chief medical executive, said.

Elena was just 19 when she was admitted to the hospital for a “four-inch hemoglobin.” While she was bedridden at the medical center, the secretary was out sick, and lab techs were getting anxious they couldn’t get any work done.

Having been a secretary herself, the hospital asked her to cover the work — which in the “dark ages of medicine” Elena says was like “magic” for a 20-year-old. Seven decades later, Elena is still going strong. So much so that she’s only taken four sick days.

“It makes me furious that I made four. I think I had one the first 50,” she told In The Know.

Now a patient relations coordinator, Elena’s vibrant sense of humour and dedication to patients has made the 91-year-old a hospital fixture.

“I don’t have time to be depressed. I refuse to be depressed. I don’t have time to be sad because I’m having too much fun being happy.”

That kind of attitude makes retirement seem like a complete unlikelihood.

“I will retire when they push me out the door or carry me out in a box.”

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