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'I'll probably die with my nursing shoes on'

'I'll probably die with my nursing shoes on'

Madison Hospital Emergency Department RN Eulah Waldrop says she knew at age four that she wanted to be a nurse.

Now 80 years old, “Miss Eulah” is among a small handful of octogenarian nurses caring for patients in hospitals across America. And she isn’t planning to hang up her scrubs anytime soon.

“I’ll probably die with my nursing shoes on,” she said with a laugh.

Eulah has spent the majority of her nearly 50-year nursing career in emergency rooms and intensive care units. Despite the physical and mental demands of the job, she still loves it. In fact, Eulah sought out one of the toughest assignments at Madison Hospital – the Emergency Department registration desk.

Her job is to quickly assess patients, deciding who needs immediate attention and who can safely wait in the lobby. Once a patient goes to the lobby, it’s her responsibility to keep an eye out for any changes in their condition.

“I can tell you she watches them like a hawk,” said Madison Hospital ED Lead Coordinator Cindy Cooper, RN. “I never have to worry about bad things happening to patients in our lobby when Miss Eulah is here.”

Born and raised in Indiana, Eulah married Jackson County native Carl Waldrop and followed him back to Alabama in 1970. She graduated from Calhoun Community College’s nursing program in 1975 and accepted an offer to work in Huntsville Hospital’s ICU, which at the time had 10 patient beds.

Eulah joined the Huntsville Hospital Emergency Department in 1987 and moved again when Madison Hospital opened, even though it meant a longer commute from her home in Jackson County’s Woodville community.

“My first love is the ED front desk,” she said. “I’m one of the first people the patients encounter. I let them know that we’re doing everything we can to help them while also trying to keep the family members happy. You really use all of your nursing skills.”

Cindy said Eulah is the only RN she knows who has worked in emergency medicine past age 70.

Eulah’s love of nursing has become contagious in her family. Both of her daughters and three granddaughters are nurses. Daughter Nita McGill (IV Team) and granddaughter Leah McGill (Emergency Department) work at Huntsville Hospital.