White Retires from NMMC after 42+ Years
Lou Ann White, RN, of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation has retired from North Mississippi Medical Center after a career spanning more than 42 years.
A 1975 graduate of Walnut High School, White earned an associate degree in nursing from Northeast Mississippi Community College in 1977. She joined the NMMC staff that June and worked in various areas including Pediatrics, but spent much of her early career on the medical-surgical units. “There was a big shortage of nurses at the time, so I worked many doubles, days off, 12-day stretches and holidays,” White said. “Then I began working in dialysis. After a couple of years, I started working in home-training for dialysis patients and families who qualified to learn to have the treatments at home, as opposed to coming to the clinic three days a week for three to five hours at a time.”
White soon discovered her passion for teaching, and in 1983 she transferred to Cardiac Rehabilitation where she could do just that. When she started, Cardiac Rehabilitation was located on the basement floor and had very little exercise equipment. “At that time there were only two heart surgeons and a few cardiologists,” she said. “This was when someone with open-heart surgery would be in the Intensive Care Unit for several days, as opposed to the now normal one or two nights. Someone with a heart attack would be in the hospital for about a week to 10 days.”
Because patients were hospitalized so long, White split her time between teaching patients in their hospital rooms and working with outpatients in the exercise room. With today’s shorter hospital stays, White often educates inpatients shortly after their procedure or even in the Cardiac Observation Unit.
In addition to teaching, White says she’ll miss the relationships with patients, many of whom come to exercise for six to 12 weeks after going home. “After a heart attack or heart surgery, there are a lot of emotions. It’s very rewarding to see patients transform and change their lifestyle,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of them tell me after Cardiac Rehab they feel better than they did before surgery.”
Retirement has come in stages for White, who left Cardiac Rehabilitation in Fall 2018 to work part-time in the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Clinic and in nuclear stress testing with the Corinth heart clinic. “The staff at both places have just taken me under their wing and made me feel right at home,” she said.
Retiring will allow White more time to be “NuNu” to her grandsons, Carson, 5, and Maddox, 4, who are moving to Tupelo along with their mother, Nichole Ryan, from Arlington, Tennessee. White’s son, Craig, passed away in November 2018. Her parents, Buddy and Louise Horton, still live in Walnut, and she has two stepchildren, Brett White and Ashley Segars.
She looks forward to traveling with her husband, David, who is also retired, as well as lunch dates with “the girls,” exercising at the NMMC Wellness Center and leisurely drinking coffee on the back porch. She plans to volunteer more often with Comfort Creatures, taking her dogs Stella and Missy to Sanctuary Hospice House. She also wants to become more involved in her church, The Orchard, and her community.
“When I finished nursing school, I never dreamed I would be working in the same place the rest of my adult career,” White said. “Once I started working here, it felt like home and I never felt I was supposed to leave!”
Now that the time has come, White is grateful for the past four-plus decades at NMMC. “I've said so many times that I loved cheerleading back in the day, and God gave me a career where I could still use this gift,” she said. “I am truly thankful for this.”