‘The years have gone by so fast’: Diane Keener retiring after 41 years at Mount Si Transitional Center
By SETH TRUSCOTT
Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor
September 26, 2012 · 11:16 AM
Diane Keener holds back the tears when she thinks about the change in front of her. She’s leaving behind her full-time job, but will miss the people who have meant so much to her over the last four decades.
Most Americans change jobs several times over their lives. But Keener, a North Bend resident, seems to have bucked that trend. This Friday, she retires after 41 years, nearly the entirety of her adult working life, at the Mount Si Transitional Heath Center.
“It doesn’t seem like 41 years,” she says. “The years have gone by so fast.”
Keener’s first day here came in early September of 1971. Keener was in her 20s when she applied to work here, at her first real job. She ended up doing the job for 25 years.
As a nursing assistant, “I took care of people in the Valley I had known for quite some time,” including several teachers from her school days.
That role reversal “was kind of hard,” Keener said. But she knows she made a difference. Nursing assistance is a demanding job, helping residents with all of the basic, daily health needs that most able-bodied folks take for granted. Being an assistant requires a lot of love and TLC, Kenner said.
“I love the residents,” Keener says. “I love elderly people. They’re like grandmas and grandpas to me.”
At the end of two and half decades, Keener was ready for a change. So, she became a laundry worker and housekeeper at the center. She still interacts with residents, but it’s a lighter challenge. She also gets to help out from time to time in the activity room. One of her closest friends at the transitional center is Activities Director Carrie Jensen, whi describes Keener as “rock solid, dependable.”
In the laundry room, Keener washes and dries clothing and linen, folds the towels and organizes everyone’s socks, labeled by name, into their own little cubby.
Asked whether she’ll ever pick up a piece of dirty laundry after her last day, Keener laughs. “I hope not.”
The transitional center, formerly the North Bend Nursing Center, has changed a lot since the early 1970s.
Keener saw multiple renovations of all parts of the building, including the new north wing in the late 1970s and the extension of the dining hall.
“Most people come in for therapy, get well and go home,” Keener said. “That’s been one big change” from the nursing center days.
Working here is not an easy job, she says. The emotional attachment with residents is real. But Keener highly recommends the work to today’s graduates.
“They need to know that all these residents need lots of love and compassion,” she says. “They have to really love the people to work here.”
Keener has lived in North Bend all her life. She moved here in 1948 at 1year old with her family, which includes two older sisters, a twin brother named Don and a younger brother. She sings in her Snoqualmie United Methodist Church choir, and loves old-fashioned songs. Never married, she plans to connect more with family in Arizona in her retirement, and to volunteer at Mount Si Senior Center and the transitional center.
When she told her residents that she was moving on, they quickly replied that they’ll miss her.
“It just tears me up inside,” Keener sai
• Learn more about the Transitional Health Center at http://www.mtsithc.com/
Mount Si Transitional Center Activities Director Carrie Jensen visits with Diane Keener, her good friend. Keener helps with Jensen’s activities.
Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor Seth Truscott at email@example.com or 1-425-888-2311.