MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Next month, Bea Bray will hang up her scrubs after more than four decades as a registered nurse in IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital’s Labor and Delivery unit.
November would mark her 43rd year as a team member on that floor, where Bray has helped deliver quite a few babies.
According to the hospital, “quite a few” babies adds up to more than 6,500.
“It’s the best place to work,” Bray said. “I don’t get tired of seeing babies being born.”
That would explain why Bray has stayed with the hospital’s Labor and Delivery team since 1974, after graduating from nursing school at Ball State University.
Bray attended LPN school in Muncie before going back to school for nursing.
“When I did all my rotations, this is what I wanted, labor and delivery,” Bray said. “My second choice was oncology. I think it’s family-centered (nursing) that I like.”
However, when Bray went through her nursing school rotations (where nurses get experience in each area), it was different from the technological experience today’s nursing students receive.
“I think I worked here a year before we had fetal monitors, so that’s been a blessing to have centralized monitoring,” Bray said.
You can’t walk through BMH’s Labor and Delivery unit without hearing fellow team members or patients sing Bray’s praises when her name is mentioned.
Peter Voss, MD, said Bray will always hold a special place in the team’s hearts. He provided this via email regarding Bray:
“Bea Bray has been one of the most delightful and hard working people that I have had the privilege to work with over the past 25 years,” Dr. Voss said. “She is universally admired by the patients and her colleagues. Her career also spanned two generations of obstetricians in our family including not only my wife Dr Franky Voss and myself but also my father Dr Gert Voss.”
Bray’s patients are also appreciative for their time with the veteran nurse.
“She’s been good, she’s been on it,” Jordan Davis, Bray’s patient, said while in labor. “It’s been a great experience so far.”
Jospeh B. Landwehr, Jr., Medical Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine of BMH’s Perinatal Center, submitted this message via email about Bray:
“I first met Bea 19+ years ago when she was my wife’s L&D nurse when we were having our son at Ball Memorial Hospital,” Dr. Landwehr said. “We had just moved here from Detroit, didn’t know anyone and haven’t even started practice yet when my son was born. As would be expected form a high risk doctor, plus my wife being a nurse (who hates OB and had a horrific pregnancy as expected), had a 3 day failed induction and got a C/S. Bea was one of her nurses during that journey and when I was first introduced to her. Over the next 19 years we have worked in the “trenches” together and have experienced many great deliveries together. She will be greatly missed on L&D, her skill, compassion, and let us not forget her humor and sarcasm. Good luck in the future with the next chapter in your life and always remember the lasting impact you have made in mine.”
When asked how often someone on her floor retires, Bray laughs.
“I have the record for Labor and Delivery,” Bray said.
The team is throwing her a retirement party on April 18 in the floor’s waiting room area, just before Bray leaves on a vacation to Jacksonville, Fla.
That’s where Bray and her husband bought a house and plan to enjoy retirement.
“I will fly back from Florida and have my last day of work on May 23,” Bray said. My sister just moved to Florida and we both talked about retiring at 62. Our husbands are both retired, so it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
May 22 is Bray’s 62nd birthday.
Birthdays are all too familiar to the nurse as she celebrates them every day.
“The most rewarding part is seeing the families get excited about the baby,” Bray said.
Some couples are excited and anxious for the birthing experience, so they’ll create a “birthing plan” - a worksheet filled with a list of options and preferences for a more positive birth experience- and Bray will help accommodate to make their experience as positive as possible.”
“I had a couple the other day who had a big long list of all the things they wanted to do and I just thought that was such a challenge, because I wanted to accomplish all that for her, to make the event special for her. I like those types of challenges because we can really accommodate the people who come in, their birthing plans.”
As expected, there are some days that aren’t as easy as others.
“Of course when they don’t get a happy ending, that’s the hard part of the job,” Bray said.
Bray recalls a standout memory from nearly seven years ago, one she still talks about to this day.
A woman was getting ready to deliver her family’s third child, after undergoing a C (Cesarean)-section and a vaginal delivery during two previous birthing experiences.
Bray said the woman ended up rupturing her incision from her C-section, which led Bray to making sure the cesarean team of doctors and nurses were immediately on hand.
The team of nurses and doctors were able to take care of her in time for both the mother and the baby to survive, which Bray said can be rare.
“There’s always a risk with that,” Bray said. “Six months later I get a letter from her, and she said it took her that long to write me because she realized I saved her and her baby’s life.”
Bray still has that letter - a tangible part of a career she said has been good to her.
Advice for those considering a career in nursing?
“There will always be nursing,” Bray said. “Go work as a student nurse on the floor as there will be better odds of getting a job, because everyone likes labor and delivery.”
While she soaks up the Florida sun, there’s one thing Bray hopes stays the same around the halls of BMH.
“The relationship with the doctors and nurses is very good here, I would hate to see that change.”
Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, https://tspne.ws/2oR6uD2
Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.