St. Joseph’s Hospital-South team members celebrate with Judy Plouffe upon her retirement.

Judy Plouffe, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South in Riverview, recently retired after 52 years in nursing. She spent 48 of those years with BayCare’s St. Joseph’s Hospital-South and Plant City’s South Florida Baptist Hospital.

Plouffe is an original team member at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South. She came to the Riverview hospital in 2014 to prepare for its opening in 2015. Prior to St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, Plouffe spent 39 years at South Florida Baptist Hospital.

During her more than half-century career, she’s worked in areas that include the ICU, the ER, risk management, education and nursing administration. During her time at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, she had been in nursing administration as an administrator-on-duty (AOD) making sure things run smoothly and efficiently in all areas of the hospital. At the time of her retirement, she was working as an AOD in a part-time capacity.

Plouffe is doing a ‘Tom Brady’; she retired once and then unretired, just like the legendary NFL quarterback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots.

“This time, it’s for good,” Plouffe said of this retirement. “We’re moving to Georgia.” Plouffe and her husband are moving to north Georgia, where they’ll travel the local area there and enjoy the nature and beauty of Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and other places.

Not surprisingly, the biggest change she’d seen in her career was the technology.

“Everything was handwritten, it was paper, hard copy, and now it’s all [digital] technology,” Plouffe said.

Plouffe’s memories after a long and storied career: “You save lives, you remember those lives. You also remember the lives lost too.”

One memory stands out. A patient in the ICU was having a cardiac arrhythmia; their life was in danger. The patient’s heart was shocked, and their heart rate stabilized. The patient did fine and was eventually discharged. Six weeks later or so, Plouffe saw that former patient in a department store.

“I remember thinking at the time, ‘This is why I do this,’” Plouffe said.

Another lasting impression is the people she worked with in health care. “They are so full of compassion,” Plouffe said. “People in health care are the most caring and committed people. I’ve never worked in anything else to compare, but I am always amazed by the people who work in health care and what they do.”

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