Lou Ann Quinn, who was described as a perfectionist, noticed that her plaque was slightly off-kilter.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center colleagues took a moment in the emergency room to honor Lou Ann Quinn and her 47-year career caring for North County.
Quinn, a registered nurse and director of operations for the North Adams Campus, recently retired but visited the hospital Monday as friends and colleagues unveiled a plaque memorializing her permanently in the emergency room.
"You have been incredibly important to each of us at the hospital here and now, when anyone shows up, they will always see you and know that you were such a big part of everything," said Dr. Michael McHugh, Emergency Department chairman.
Quinn started working at the then-North Adams Regional Hospital in the 1970s. According to her colleagues, she was the steady hand that guided the North Adams campus through its reopening under BMC after the hospital closed in 2014.
"There is definitely a hole that is going to be hard to fill that's for sure," said Jennifer Dowling, operational manager of the emergency room and medical/surgical inpatient care. "She was a one-woman show here for nine years after the hospital closed … she did everything."
At the gathering, education specialist Eileen Rockefeller reflected on her many years working with Quinn and lauded her leadership, adding it was one of the main reasons the North Adams Campus has come so far.
"You have been a rock to this place, for the satellite [emergency facility], the North Adams Regional, and for me," she said. "The satellite's success is due to you. You did everything you could for this community, the patients, and your staff. You backed them up, all of them."
Quinn, who retired in September, unwrapped the plaque that was placed next to her photo. Known for her uncompromising attention to detail, she adjusted the slightly crooked plaque and then thanked her North Adams Campus family.
"This has meant everything to me. As you all know, I raised my child right within these walls," she said. "This is my family. These folks have embraced me. EMS has been a constant source of support, and my ED leadership team couldn't be better even though they are a campus away sometimes."
She said she leaves the soon-to-reopen hospital in good hands and is happy to help in the transition.
"It means so much to me to be able to hand it off … and it is part of my legacy," she said. "I want to be here to support you all."
She added that she is enjoying retirement.
"Retirement has been wonderful," she said. "My house has never been so clean, and my grandchild has never been so visited. It is wonderful."
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How can women bridge the retirement gap?
Submitted by Edward Jones
March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.
Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:
Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses.
Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:
Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.
It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.
Growing up in Boston, he majored in biology at Boston College, where he also lettered in football for the Eagles. He would go on to Tufts Medical School but took a year off graduate school and taught during the busing crisis of the 1970s.
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