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B.C. maternity nurse works last shift after 44 years on the job: ‘I’ve had a great run’

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WATCH: A B.C. maternity nurse is working her last shift on New Year's Eve day, after more than four decades on the job. Nadia Stewart has her story. Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave – Dec 31, 2019

Shelly Ehbrecht spent the last day of 2019 reflecting on her more than four decades on the job.

“It feels surreal; it feels bittersweet. I’m going to cry,” she said as she wrapped up her last shift at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“It’s time to go. I’ve had a great run for 44 years, great experiences.”

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Ehbrecht began her career at the old Grace Hospital, now known as B.C. Women’s Hospital.

“The head nurse that I had initially was like an army head nurse,” she said.

“It was important to bounce dimes on the beds and the bed-making was really an important part of my job.”

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Her expertise in bed-making is rivalled only by the depth of her knowledge of the maternity unit, having cared for thousands of families over the years as they welcomed the newest members of their families.

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She says one of the biggest changes she has seen during his career is the switch to single-care rooms for new moms.

“I loved the single-room philosophy at Women’s,” she said.

“I worked in their unit when it started. There was a lot of controversy because it was a new thing. Women can come in, families can come in. They labour, deliver, they have their postpartum in the same room.

“This is such a much better model of care — yeah, happy little thing.”

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Her final shift was filled with heartfelt goodbyes from colleagues who will miss her — and she says she will miss them, too.

“I work with some great people, great doctors, great nurses,” she said.

Nurses will continue to deliver up to 400 babies a month. It’s the part of the job that Ehbrecht says she’ll remember most.

“It’s such a privilege and an honour to be with a family when they’re experiencing that labour and delivery,” Ehbrecht said.

“I just feel so honoured that I could be a part of it.”

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