90 Year Old Nurse Celebrates 65 Years At The Bedside

2 Min Read Published August 4, 2023
90 Year Old Nurse Celebrates 65 Years At The Bedside

Image: Elle Ucci abc15

Elle Ucci, a labor and delivery nurse (L&D) from Banner Gateway in Gilbert, Arizona, is defying the odds. At 90 years old, she continues to help new mothers and babies after an astounding sixty-five years as a nurse. 

“They say that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life and that’s exactly how I feel,” said Ucci. Her love for nursing continues and started at a very early age.  “When I was four, I had a dog that had a fractured foot, and I made a splint out of two pieces of wood I found outside in the yard," said Ucci. "My mother said you did a good job, Ellie. I said, 'Mom I think I want to be a nurse.'" 

Ucci serves as a mentor to those on her unit for newer nurses and staff members. “I bring new life into the world all the time, that keeps you going, new life keeps you young,” said Ucci."I have to look at myself in the mirror and see my wrinkles and my white hair and I thought maybe I am ninety, I don't know, but I tell them I feel like I'm in my thirties when I come to work, I really do." 

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Even though she currently works in L&D, she previously worked at a naval hospital and also as a school nurse at Mesa Public Schools. She has worked for over 40 years at Banner Health on a variety of units. "We're a four-generation Banner family here. Yes, we are. They are in all different phases of the hospital," Ucci said

Ucci has worked through epidemics, pandemics, and everything in between. "I've worked through many epidemics in my life. I worked through the polio epidemic in Chicago in 54. All we had was a mask, a cap and some disinfectant water," said Ucci.

"She does a great job mentoring our newer nurses, which is so powerful in a time when nursing is a challenge with COVID, it's a challenge with the pandemic," said Shannon Heronema-Garcia, Director of Women & Infant Services at Banner Gateway. 

Most new nurses ask her why – why continue working at her age. Why continue working through COVID, through the ongoing nursing shortage, and through the increase of violence against nurses and healthcare workers? For Ucci, nursing is more than just a profession but rather a calling and a passion.  

“Retirement is not in my vocabulary,” said Ucci. “Make sure you stay healthy because you have a lot to give the world.” "If I stop, I'm afraid I'm going to get old at that time because my brain won't be functioning the way it is now.”

Kathleen Gaines
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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