The Love of Caring

Jean Cates, RN, has been a nurse for more years than N.C. Memorial Hospital has been standing and has been providing care at UNC Hospitals for more than five decades of that time. She has devoted her life to caring for people. For those of us who work at the hospital, Jean was a familiar face in Occupational Health Services (OHS) where she has worked for the past few decades as a temporary RN. Jean retired (for the second time) at the end of June 2018.

Born in Pennsylvania, Jean’s career in health care began when she graduated from the nursing school at the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing. , Pittsburgh, PA, in 1950. After graduation, she moved to Santa Monica, CA, where she worked in the VA system in medical/surgical nursing. During her time in California, Jean met a Spencer, NC, native who would later become her husband when they married in 1954.

The next year, Jean and her husband moved to North Carolina. First, they lived in Salisbury, where Jean worked as a public health nurse for the State Health Department. In 1958, they moved to Greensboro, where Jean worked again in med/surg nursing.

Jean started work at NC Memorial Hospital, when she and her family moved to Chapel Hill in 1966. She worked first on the Urology/Neurology floor before moving to positions in OB/GYN, Family Medicine, and, finally, OHS, where she worked from 1977 until her retirement in 1981.

But Jean wasn’t retired for long, returning to OHS as a temporary OHS RN, in 1983 and staying on the team until June 2018. Perhaps she even gave you your last flu shot or TB screen.

Her co-workers seem unable to praise her highly enough, says David Williams, RN, OHS nurse manager. “Words are hard to find to adequately describe Jean’s loving and caring nature. She is regularly referred to as that ‘really sweet nurse’ who can never do enough for all of the employees and patients she has cared for through her long and meaningful nursing career.”

When asked what Jean will do when not coming to OHS or UNC, Jean replied “I have a full schedule every day. When I’m called to work at OHS, I reschedule something and work; now I have lots of time to take care of the things that have being rescheduled.”

“We wish Jean our best wishes and thank her for all her years of caring and her long service of 52 years to UNC Hospital and Occupational Health Service,” says Williams. “We will miss working with Jean and the joy and caring she brings to those in her care but we delight in knowing that she is going to stay busy and has a lot of things to do and catch up on. Jean’s adventure continues.”

Share This: