102-year-old woman, survivor of two global pandemics tells story of helping others

Nation & World News

ABBEVILLE, Ala. (WDHN) — Imagine being born during one global pandemic, spending the majority of your life helping others, and now living through a second pandemic.

Florence Mitchell is doing it after a lifetime career as a nurse through the majority of the 1900s.

Mitchell was born in Newville, Ala. in 1918 during the time of the Spanish Flu.

Her family even reported that she may have had the flu, but she persevered through it and worked during her childhood on her family’s farm.

“Well, I did everything on the farm,” Mitchell said. “I drove a tractor. I done everything.”

After leaving the farm, she became a nurse and worked on what they called the iron lung wing, which was for patients with pulmonary problems.

She also worked with tuberculosis patients.

“They would take them and put them in the iron lung and it would kind of breath for them,” niece Betty Barnes said. “So she worked in that unit for a long time in the hospital. She was a nurse for like sixty years.”

“And TB,” Barnes added. “She worked on the tuberculosis wing for years and years. In fact, she tested positive for TB several times, but she didn’t actually have it, you know.”

Mitchell lived through so much history and had a huge hand in helping the sick.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, she wasn’t shocked to see health personnel suited up in PPE, just like she did in the tuberculosis wing.

“She’s done it,” Barnes said. “She’s lived through it, and when it all started I was explaining it to her, she says honey I’ve been there, done that. This too will pass. And you know, it’s something to think about.”

Florence will be turning 102 on Dec. 18.

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