Moving Picture: Naperville nurse, 80, loves working
When Merrilee Andelbradt of Naperville first became a nurse in 1956, the iron lung was in use.
"I came from the polio age," she said.
Sixty years later, Andelbradt, 80, is still hard at work as a registered nurse at Edward Hospital in Naperville, where she has been employed for the past 43 years.
She works full-time on the overnight shift in the intensive care unit. When she first started at Edward Hospital in 1973, the ICU was a four-bed ward with four private rooms. It is now a 24-bed ward. Andelbradt has worked in ICU during all her years at the hospital, where she takes care of patients that need to be watched more closely.
She gained experience when she lived out west in Colorado and Wyoming in smaller community hospitals. She has experience in the emergency room, as well as the nursery and surgery.
Andelbradt doesn't feel her age and has no limitations in her job.
"I tell people I'm 40 times two. I don't have any problems with health. I can keep up with anybody," she said.
The toughest part of the job for Andelbradt is dealing with suicidal and alcoholic patients.
"They have to want to have help, and I'm not the person for them," she said. "I can help them through this situation, but I can't help them further down the line."
Andelbradt is close to her colleagues at the hospital, where they help each other out during the overnight shift.
"We really watch out for each other. We're a really strong team."
Andelbradt still looks forward to going to work. She feels that nurses do a lot of teaching and offer support and safety to the patients.
"I work because of enjoyment and it gives me something to look forward to.
"It's a thrill and it's a challenge. And it make you feel good about yourself that you can help people."
Andelbradt calls Edward Hospital "progressive," and says she still likes to learn about her job. She attends seminars and keeps involved with advances in health care.
"We've come a long way. We've seen a lot of new equipment," she said.
Andelbradt does see retirement in the near future, although she hasn't set a date yet. However, she doesn't plan to spend her time sitting around quietly.
When asked what she'd like to do in retirement, she replied, "storm chasing," since she has a great interest in meteorology.