NewsUplifting Arizona


88-year-old Valley nurse says retiring is out of the question

Posted at 11:04 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 02:05:12-04

GILBERT, AZ — "Karen, it's Ellie," said Eleanor Ucci, a registered nurse at Banner Gateway.

Age is only but a number.

"I'm getting you ready to go home. I'm so excited for you," said Nurse Ellie.

At 88-years-old, Ellie Ucci is still going strong. She works as a registered nurse in the postpartum unit at Banner Gateway in Gilbert, making every one of her patients feel special and loved.

"You know, I'm going to miss you, you know that?" said Nurse Ellie.

"Oh, we're going to miss you too," said a patient at Banner Gateway.

Her 70-year career has been filled with many of those moments. She empowers new parents every step of the way.

"You know, the first day I met you, you know, you said you couldn't, but you did. Didn't you?" said Nurse Ellie.

"Yes," said the patient.

Nurse Ellie has been with Banner Health for 40 years, inspiring her family to follow in her footsteps.

"We're a four-generation Banner family here. Yes, we are. They are in all different phases of the hospital," said Nurse Ellie.

She truly makes an impact on everyone she meets.

"I work with 20, 30-year-old girls, you know, and I do the same work they do. As a matter of fact, I'm their role model," said Nurse Ellie.

"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.

Ellie has a view of the world many don't have, seeing the role of nursing evolve, and she continues sharing those experiences with others.

"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 Nurse Ellie.

But, she says she still learns something new every day.

Nurse Ellie also worked many years for Mesa Public Schools. Some of her students are now, her colleagues. Nursing is not just her job; it's her passion and she has no plan on giving that up.

"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," said Nurse Ellie.

For Nurse Ellie, retiring is out of the question.

"Thank you for everything," said the patient.