POR Beth Carlucci March 22, 2009

Something to talk about

BETH CARLUCCI STARTED working for what is now called Family Health West when she was 18 and hasn’t stopped working since.

Retirement isn’t a topic Beth Carlucci talks about much.

She still loves her job after nearly 60 years. Plus, Carlucci, 76, is healthy and enjoys staying busy.

Then again, Carlucci doesn’t talk about herself much. She doesn’t think she is that interesting because she’s had a pretty normal life, she said.

Get Carlucci talking, however, and she has intriguing anecdotes to share.

For example, Carlucci, whose maiden name is Maybon, moved to Fruita with her family in 1948. The Fruita Monument High School now sits on the dairy farm where Carlucci grew up.

She married Guy Carlucci in the front yard of her old home decades ago. The land is now part of a baseball field.

Guy Carlucci died in March 2008 of heart failure, but Beth Carlucci said her husband had a myriad of health problems in the final years of his life.

“He really liked Fruita,” she said. “He liked the government part. I wasn’t that interested.”

Nursing and family are the two topics that interest Carlucci the most.

She started working for what is now called Family Health West when she was 18 and hasn’t stopped working since.

Well, she took two years off to have her sons, but she technically worked hard in those years, she said. When she did return to Family Health, she occasionally brought her young children to work because she couldn’t afford a baby-sitter.

She hid them under a desk.

“Other nurses brought their kids in,” Carlucci said. “I had them in a basket, and they wouldn’t go anywhere.”

Carlucci started at Family Health in 1950 and didn’t wait long to begin her family. She had her first son, Jim, in 1951. In 1953, she had Charles Robert.

Carlucci’s first two years at Family Health were spent learning “on the job,” because she had no formal nursing training, unlike other nurses at Family Health. In 1952, between the birth of her two children, Carlucci decided to get her nursing license through a program at St. Mary’s Hospital. In the 1960s, Carlucci went back to St. Mary’s for additional training to become a surgical nurse. She spent 10 years working at Family Health as a surgical nurse. It was the highlight of her career.

“That’s where I liked it the best,” she said.

Carlucci apologized for not remembering exact dates regarding her nursing career except the year she began and the year she got her license. She did remember interviewing for a surgical nurse position at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center decades ago. She was offered the job but discovered taking the job would require her to work nights. It was a deal breaker.

“I did not want to leave my boys,” she said. “They were more important than a job.”

When Family Health ceased performing surgeries, Carlucci transitioned to nursing home care within the hospital building. She worked in a unit called Cedar, which was for patients with
Alzheimer’s disease. When Cedar closed, Carlucci moved over to Family Health West’s The Willows, a secured assisted living center for patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, confusion and related disorders.

Carlucci has been a nurse at The Willows for the past four years. She said caring for patients with differing stages of dementia is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

“They act like they don’t know me, but some, every once in a while, they’ll call me by name, they’ll say when I’ve been off, ‘We’re glad you’re back,’ ” Carlucci said.

At The Willows, Carlucci is responsible for doling out medications, overseeing treatments and taking care of any physicians’ orders for a patient.

In the 55-plus years she has been a nurse, Carlucci has seen the health-care industry transform technologically. The heart of what she does, however, has stayed much as it was when she started in 1950.

“Basic nursing is pretty much the same,” she said.

Carlucci was the first person from her family who pursued a career in nursing, but she has nieces and a granddaughter who have followed in her steps.

She is proud and excited for each of them.

“It’s just a good career to do,” she said.


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