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Moving the Children’s: A nurse’s walk down memory lane

WATCH ABOVE: Anne Leclair talks with a nurse who has spent most of her career in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Kathy Kehoe has a heavy heart and says leaving the building behind in May will be bittersweet.

MONTREAL – Kathy Kehoe started working as a nurse in May of 1979. The mother of three spent most of her career working the overnight shift in the neo-natal intensive care unit at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

After spending close to three decades working at the Children’s, leaving the building behind will be bittersweet.

“It just feels like our house has been renovated as much as it can be now, we’re running out of space and it’s time to move into a newer home a bigger home,” said Kehoe.

With retirement just five years away for the NICU nurse, she admits the idea of re-learning to do her job in a whole new environment is a little daunting.

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“I’ll just start getting comfortable and then I’ll have to leave,” said Kehoe with a smile.

Kehoe has a heavy heart about the move and she will leave with a long list of memories.

Kathy Kehoe started working as a nurse in May of 1979.
Kathy Kehoe started working as a nurse in May of 1979. Global News

“Oh my God, so many memories, even starting before I worked here,” said Kehoe.

“I was a patient when I was four, my children were patients here, each had a stint in the OR.”

The single mother made the decision early on in her career to work nights in order to be home as much as possible for her children.

“We actually have quite a few nurses who work just nights and love it,” said Kehoe.

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“For me, for personal reasons raising three children as a single parent it was easier to be gone overnight while they were asleep with a babysitter than to not be home in the morning when they left for school.”

READ MOREMoving the Children’s: One mother’s heartbreaking good-bye

Over the span of her career, Kehoe has witnessed countless firsts in the field of medicine, from treating the hospital’s first heart transplant patient to seeing new technology emerge over the years.

“At one time we would be putting babies on a plane to the States for an ECMO heart and lung bypass and now we can offer that service here,” said Kehoe.

Kehoe joined the overnight transport team 12 years ago and is proud of what she’s accomplished in her years at the Children’s.

She’s made lifelong friendships with co-workers and with families that have spent day and night by their baby’s side on floor 9C.

There are some patients she’ll never forget.

“One of the babies I took care of quite often, I was his primary nurse, we would dress him up if there was a hockey game that night he had to have his Habs jersey on,” said Kehoe.

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“His parents were very involved in his care and he was just a sweetheart that I still keep in touch with today.”

The biggest challenge about working in the NICU, according to Kehoe, is that not all babies survive.

“That definitely is the toughest part,” said Kehoe.

“I still cry along with the parents when we lose a baby. It’s very tough, it never gets easy.”

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Kehoe is looking forward to the future at the Glen site, because she’s planning to stick around, even after she retires.

“I always said I would come back and be a volunteer and rock the babies, why not?!”