I Am Local 6: The face of Lourdes nursing retires

PADUCAH – From taking care of your family to having to break the bad news, Maurleen Neihoff has done it all at Lourdes Hospital.

She has been a nurse for 48 years and she is now hanging up her coat and retiring. She’s spent her career improving health care for our entire community.

“It’s not important what you say, but your presence is what’s important,” Neihoff said. It’s a motto that’s stuck with her for years.  She adds, “people look at you and say, ‘am I dying?’ and sometimes you don’t know what to say.”

She’s been a nurse since the 70s. Before that, she was a volunteer at the hospital.

“I can remember my first code. It was across from the emergency room in the men’s ward,” she said. “We went in and I did four pericardial thumps that we did back in those days.” Neihoff is also the employee health nurse, meaning she also cares for hospital staff.

Neihoff inspires those around her, like Viola Belmont, who has worked with Neihoff for 46 years. “She’s kind of like, the pioneer. I call her [that] because she was our first and only health nurse.”

Gisele Burnett has worked with Niehoff since 1977. “She’s one of the first people I saw in a critical situation that handled it as directly and as calmly as the physician.”

Neihoff is full of stories and there is a lesson at the end of each one. Her biggest lesson is compassion.

“I think when you have to give someone news that is difficult, whether you are dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or something went wrong in surgery, it can be very difficult,” Neihoff said.

The hospital where she has given bad news was the same one where she got some of her own in 2004. “We had recently got the new mammogram machine and the technician called to see if I would be a volunteer.” They found breast cancer, but she never stopped working. She eventually she beat it.

For nearly 50 years she has been a staple in these halls, but things are about to change.

“I might take my lab jacket and turn it into a chef’s coat and do some cooking and improve my culinary skills,” she said. But you might still see her around Lourdes even after Friday. Neihoff said she still plans to volunteer at the hospital.

You can find out more information about this story and others by following Leah Shields on Facebook and Twitter.

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