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Person of the Week
Madelyn Murano: A Lifetime of Nursing
Madelyn Murano started her career in nursing during World War II, but while her field changed over time, her love of caring for others has remained. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier)
Even at age 93, with her nursing career in the past, Madelyn Murano is still taking care of people as best she can.
She became a nurse during World War II after first trying her hand at factory work.
“I didn’t really [decide to become a nurse]. I knew that I had to do something,” she says. “I went to work in a factory and it was terrible. The vocabulary was much to be desired.”
She lasted about six months at the factory before her sister encouraged her to make a better plan for herself.
“Right next door it said ‘Join the Army.’ I didn’t want to do that,” Madelyn says.
She also saw signs seeking nurses “and I decided, well, let me take a shot and see what I can do in nursing,” she says. “I was 18 then, when I walked in that door.”
Madelyn says the cost for her tuition at the time was $400, a price she worried her family couldn’t pay. But when the time came, she says, her father came up with the money and she was able to start her career.
She took to her new job quickly and would stick with it into the 1970s.
“I loved nursing from the day I went in,” she says. “There wasn’t one thing that I disliked about it.”
Madelyn is the youngest of seven children. Over the years, her nursing career has led her to care for the older members of her family.
“Every time they got sick and went into the hospital, I was right there at their bedside,” she says. “I knew everybody, so it was easy going in and taking care of somebody.”
Once, she was even left to care for her husband in the hospital when he was injured at work.
“He got hurt and he fractured his leg. So he came into the hospital and it was my floor,” Madelyn says.
Madelyn took care of all sorts of things in her life from twin grandchildren to turtles and even snakes.
At Whispering Pines Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, where Madelyn lives now, she enjoys making dog treats for the East Haven Animal Shelter.
“I love making doggie bones,” she says. “It’s my tribute to the animal shelter.”
After some time, Madelyn became involved in teaching at the hospital herself.
“I was a nurse and a very high-class nurse. I did a lot of teaching and orientation of aides. At that time, I did graduate a lot of aides from St. Raphael’s and New Haven Hospital, where I spent a great deal of my early years,” she says.
When Madelyn and her husband, Richard, had kids, she took up a new position so that she could see them more often.
“I wanted to stay home part of the time, so my husband and I watched the children at different days,” she says. “I went to Soundview [nursing home in West Haven]. They needed someone to teach their aides because they were doing a terrible job.”
She became the assistant director at Soundview, teaching during the day. She says that she enjoyed the teaching part of her work just as she enjoyed the nursing work itself.
“You have to be in the hospital to know that aides are doing kind of sloppy work at times. You’ve got to take that away from them and teach them the way, which was a challenge, but it was really good,” she says.
Madelyn says the hospital was actually recruiting aides because of a shortage, so her training was important to get them up to speed.
“They had to have some kind of accreditation to come into a place like this,” she says. “They were all watched carefully.”
Sometimes, she says, the training could be hard for the recruits, but Madelyn enjoyed the challenge.
“I loved it. I did that most of my life, teaching aides,” she says. “They respected me for it. They didn’t regret that they had to learn something.”
Today, Madelyn lives at Whispering Pines, but though now she’s a patient herself, she still has a nurse’s instincts.
“Since Madelyn’s been here, [she] worries about everybody on her floor,” says Mary Rosa, the Recreation Director. “If they don’t look right, she goes to the nurse [on duty] and tells them.”
She helps out with setting up activities and with some of the other residents at Whispering Pines, despite her own condition.
“You never take nursing out of you,” Madelyn says. “You’re just looking all the time.”