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Nurse who helped deliver thousands of babies, retiring

December 25, 2000

Nurse who helped deliver thousands of babies, retiring



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


After nearly 30 years on the job, obstetrics nurse Connie Martin still approaches each shift with newborn enthusiasm.

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"Every day is a totally different experience," said Martin, who works in the birthing center at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown.

"It's always exciting," she said. "I know I'm going to miss the patients and the people who I work with."

Martin will retire Jan. 17.

Her co-workers said the "grandmother of obstetrics" will be missed.

"She's just such an inspiration," said fellow obstetrics nurse Barbara Constable. "If you just met her, you'd think it was her first day on the job because she still has such love and enthusiasm for it."

Since graduating from the Washington County Hospital School of Nursing in 1959, Martin has helped deliver thousands of babies, cared for countless new mothers and trained almost all the night-shift nurses in the obstetrics unit, she said.

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She said she's always tried to have a positive attitude and impress upon the fledgling nurses she's trained the importance of treating patients the way they would like to be treated.

Martin worked mainly on the hospital's post-partum unit in the early part of her career, and took a nine-year leave of absence to care for her own six young children.

In the early 1980s, she began filling in wherever there was a nursing need in the hospital because she wanted a fresh challenge and to brush up on her skills, Martin said.

But the joy of "seeing all these new babies come into the world" drew Martin back to obstetrics and a full-time position in the labor and delivery unit, she said.

Her responsibilities at the birthing center, where she's worked the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift since 1990, have ranged from making staff assignments to coaching labor patients.

She's basked in the joy of new arrivals and shared the grief of losing babies.

Obstetrics have drastically changed since Martin paid a total of $250 - including her uniform, books and room and board - to attend two years of nursing school, she said.

Would-be obstetrics nurses now receive more classroom education but less hands-on clinical training in all medical fields, Martin said.

"When I was in training, you really got more of a feel for the care you gave your patients by spending about three months in each specialty," she said. "The student nurses lived at Pangborn Hall and staffed the hospital at night."

The technology has improved, epidurals to relieve labor pain have become much more common, and expectant parents are better educated about the birth process and parenting, Martin said.

Obstetrics is also more family-centered now, she said.

"You're taking care of the whole family. When you work here in the birthing center, you do everything."

Martin said she'd like to do some part-time clerical work in the birthing center after she retires, but plans to spend most of her time with her husband, Robert, and their large family.

"For all these years, they've worked things around my schedule," Martin said. "It's time."

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