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Luisa continues service after 20-year career at Tacoma General

Posted on Feb. 27, 2020 ( comments)

Volunteer Luisa Gaebe is the go-to trainer at MultiCare Covington Medical Center’s Emergency Department. She has logged nearly 1,100 hours between December 2012 and January 2020.

“She is dependable and always willing to help train new volunteers,” says Jaime Garcia, South King County volunteer coordinator.

A hospital is not an unfamiliar environment for Gaebe. She spent more than 20 years working as a labor and delivery nurse at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital before retiring in April 2009.

“The birth center was a great fit for me,” she says.

Finding her way

Gaebe was born and raised in southern Idaho, then moved to the Seattle area in 1967. She worked in the trust department at a bank for a dozen years before moving to Puget Power for six.

She decided clerical work wasn’t right for her for the long term. But because Gaebe always enjoyed helping people, she soon enrolled in nursing school taking night classes.

“I originally thought about midwifery, but one, I couldn’t afford the tuition, and two, I couldn’t not work while I went to school,” she says.

After Gaebe graduated, she worked a few months in a rehabilitation clinic. A friend told her about Tacoma General and soon she was working in labor and delivery.

“It was a wonderful experience if everything was going well,” Gaebe says. “If not, it could be rather stressful. But I didn’t want to do other types of nursing, like in medical/surgical or in offices.

“The birth center is fast-paced, and that appealed to me. You’re working on your own, but at the same time, you have a group, a team you can call on.”

Retirement and service

Gaebe retired in April 2009 at 63 years old and is now 74. She began volunteering at Covington Medical Center’s gift shop. When Covington opened its emergency department nearly two years ago, she moved her service there. She works one day a week, four hours a day, generally filling supply carts in the rooms or bringing coffee or warm blankets to patients.

Gaebe says volunteering allows her to still be in a medical atmosphere but on her terms, and all with less stress and reduced responsibilities.

“When I retired, I was just at a stage of life where that work wasn’t fulfilling anymore,” she says. “Here, I can still be of service. I have the chance to be around the medical field, but I don’t have the responsibility and stress that the nurses have.”

She also gets to spend more time with her husband, Skip. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Occasionally, Gaebe does miss the fast-paced environment and the babies.

“Babies always cry when I pick them up,” she says with a laugh. “Of course, in my job, that’s what you wanted. But it was an experience. I was very fortunate to have all those experiences and work with all the great people that I did. I worked with some of the best nurses in the world.” 

About The Author

Melissa Campbell

Melissa Campbell is the communication specialist for MultiCare Auburn and Covington medical centers. You may reach her at [email protected].

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