It’s July 15, 1968. A young Eunice Rochelle walks through the doors of a Montgomery nursing home for her first day on the job. She’s a recent graduate of Trenholm State Technical College and ready to make a difference as a Licensed Practical Nurse. However, Rochelle doesn’t know she’s taking the first steps in a lifelong journey of service at the same nursing home.
Rochelle experiences a lot of changes. Paper charts give way to computers. Nursing home residents and patients have increasingly complex medical needs. Starched nursing uniforms are replaced by comfortable scrubs. Even the nursing home’s name has changed. It’s now known as Crowne Health Care of Montgomery. Through all the changes, Eunice Rochelle adapts and continues to serve.
“When I first went to work in a nursing home, I felt like my heart was softened to the people living there,” Rochelle recalled. “You have to have this in your heart. It takes a special kind of person to work in a nursing home.”
Rochelle is a special person to her co-workers at Crowne Health Care of Montgomery. Today, a large crowd celebrated her almost 51 years of service with a luncheon and awards ceremony. As part of the event, 23 employees were honored for reaching service milestones ranging from five to 40 years at Crowne of Montgomery. The celebration is part of National Nurses Week activities.
State Representative Kirk Hatcher of Montgomery, whose aunt served as a nurse for 50 years, presented Rochelle with a resolution from the Alabama House of Representatives. He told stories of visiting Crowne Health Care of Montgomery when he was a child and of relatives who lived at the nursing home.
“This is incredible that you would have the opportunity, and please let me take this moment and acknowledge you,” Rep. Hatcher said. “You are highly commended for your steadfast service as a Licensed Practical Nurse. We extend to you best wishes for happiness and success.”
Speaking on behalf of Rochelle’s co-workers at Crowne Health Care of Montgomery, Activity Director Bruce MacPherson recounted funny moments and offered heartfelt tributes.
“Fifty years takes a lot of dedication, loyalty and commitment,” MacPherson said. “It involves loving what you do and being good at it. Ms. Rochelle, we love you, we respect you and we admire you. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do.”
Rochelle doesn’t plan to retire. She makes her daily rounds to provide nursing care and touch the lives of the people she serves.
“When you come in to work at the nursing home, you have to leave your feelings behind you and look to take care of these people,” Rochelle said. “They (nursing home residents) are depending on you.”