When Merrily Mount received a visiting delegation of Japanese nursing students at Jefferson Healthcare hospital’s South County Medical Clinic in Quilcene last year, she considered it a career high in her 45 years of health service, 21 of which have been spent in Quilcene.
“Later that year, I took stock of my career in family nursing medicine and public health,” Mount said. “I knew that my 67th birthday was coming up the following year, and I knew I needed to give four months prior notice if I wanted to change my contract. So, for my birthday, I wanted something that I couldn’t purchase, which was time.”
As active as Mount has been as a nurse practitioner, she’s just as devoted to environmental stewardship, working on trails committees and being involved with the Port Ludlow Hiking Club.
“If I was going to retire, I knew I needed to do it now,” Mount said. “I’m still healthy. I love hiking, camping, biking, walking and reading. I want to have time to do those. I’d love to be able to go and meet the bookmobile in Brinnon. I live here and thrive here, but my time is now.”
The delegation from the Ishikawa Prefectural Nursing University in Japan made the trip to Jefferson County on March 24 of last year. The purpose of the visit was to see how the South County Medical Clinic worked to ensure local country dwellers could receive quality health care. With that visit, Mount recognized she was at the height of her career.
“If I didn’t step aside soon, the next generation wouldn’t be able to enjoy the same levels of success I did,” Mount said. “If I waited until I was 70 years old to retire, how would they be able to witness and share in some of the experiences that I’ve had?”
Mount turns 67 on May 6, and while she’s looking forward to no longer being on call for patients, as she has been for the past two decades, she nonetheless said, “There wasn’t one day at work that wasn’t joyful. I missed very few days of work. I was so fortunate to work with such excellent people.”
Mount singled out Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn and CFO Hilary Whittington for praise.
“Mike wants to prepare the health care sector of this area for the increased population growth we’re due to receive in the next 30 years,” Mount said. “And Hilary should help the hospital continue to grow and develop.”
Mount cited the variety of health care professionals the hospital has attracted in recent years, from primary care physicians to surgeons and orthopedists, and expressed confidence that she could “do more from the outside,” in part by helping fill in for different providers when needed.
Mount complimented the hospital on the care and concern it has demonstrated in helping her make the transition from work. As she approaches her final day of work May 3, she is putting her patients in touch with other potential providers. Although she does not have a dedicated replacement yet, she reported candidates are being interviewed.
“The day after my last day, Mike is set to make a speech on the future of the health care industry,” Mount said. “This is like my third act.”