Maternity Nurse Remembers a 51-year Career


Posted to Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing Specialties

The Tucson Citizen has an interview with Guadelupe Montez, a maternity nurse who just retired after 51 years. She specialized in labor and delivery and antepartum testing.

CC image courtesy of Sweet Carolina Design & Photo via Flickr

“To be carrying a baby and to have the baby out, it’s beautiful. It’s like a miracle to me,” Montez, 77, said. “I’ve always really loved babies, except they grow up too fast.”

A lot has changed at Maricopa Medical Center over the past five decades, particularly the growing use of technology. It took Montez a while to catch on. She always preferred paperwork, writing patients’ information on their hospital charts.

But through it all, the county hospital has remained Montez’s second home.

After Montez graduated from high school in Morenci, she rode a Greyhound bus to the Valley to attend a nursing school at what is now St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. She had only the exact tuition with her — $350 for a three-year program that included housing and meals.

“When I came down, the sisters knew I had exactly $350. So they said, ‘Why don’t you set this aside?’ and gave me a scholarship. Where can you do that now?” Montez said.

“I didn’t have to pay it back until I graduated, and with no interest,” she said.

Montez began working as a labor and delivery nurse in January 1961 at the old county hospital, then located at 35th Avenue and Durango Street.

Back then, there was one doctor delivering babies in two delivery rooms and three labor rooms. Patients stayed at least a week after getting their Caesarean sections to receive postpartum care.

The hospital in 1971 moved to 24th and Roosevelt streets. Now, there is a whole crew of doctors, midwives, nurse practitioners and rotating interns and residents. Patients leave the next day.

After about 20 years in the delivery ward, Montez felt that the hectic and high-stress environment was too much. She meant to retire, but then decided to work part time as an antepartum testing nurse instead.

In that role, Montez saw high-risk expectant mothers several times a week throughout their pregnancies to make sure there were no serious complications.

The schedule was much more relaxed, and Montez was able to build relationships with patients.

“Every year, I kept saying, ‘This is my last year.’ My kids would say, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Montez said. “I guess I didn’t want to give it up. I was happy there, getting out of the house, with friends who you work with.”

Montez has come to know all the nurses and secretaries at the clinic, as well as their children and grandchildren. She has crocheted afghans for all of them.

The article goes on to say that when she’s out and about in the Phoenix area, she’s often stopped by former patients who recognize her. (The moms who delivered the babies, not the babies themselves!) She’s looking forward to spending time with her grandchildren but is sad about leaving her job. “I miss it,” she says.