Of All Methodist’s Mother Baby Nurses, She’s Been There Longest

September 14, 2017

She was there when the nursery at Methodist Hospital was filled with tiny newborns – brought to their mothers’ rooms only when it was time to feed.

When visitors would have to peek through the nursery window to catch a glimpse of that new tiny bundle of joy.

She was there when babies were put on their stomachs to sleep and when the rules switched to putting them on their sides.

And she was there as research revealed it was safest for babies to sleep on their backs.

Kathy Raasch has been there for a lot. She came to IU Health Methodist Hospital in 1980, fresh out of nursing school to be a baby nurse. Today, she is the most veteran nurse on the mother baby unit, with 37 years under her belt.

The changes Raasch has seen are almost unbelievable. After all, when she first started, moms were allowed to smoke cigarettes in their rooms. Raasch laughs at the thought of that. She almost can’t believe that was ever allowed.

“I have seen a lot,” says Raasch, a widow with two stepdaughters and four grandchildren.

In the 1990s, she helped move NICU babies to a new building at Methodist, as doctors and respiratory therapists followed along to make sure everything was OK. She worked around the clock at Methodist for the turn of the century, Y2K, as people worried computer systems would break down and everything would come to a halt.

So, on the unit, Raasch is known as a little bit of a mother hen. But also as “a little bit of a jokester,” she says. “I always tell the younger nurses, some of the rules don’t apply to me anymore because of my longevity.”

It takes Raasch no time to answer why she has stayed at Methodist all these years.

“The people, my coworkers, the pride with Methodist Hospital,” she says. “There are people in this building who have been here since the beginning of time and you know them in the hallways. The pride that we have with this building and this institution and the camaraderie amongst the nurses.”

And the patients. There was the young mother who Raasch recently cared for. After she left the hospital, she wrote Raasch a note: “Thank you for taking care of me and thank you for not judging me.”

“I thought, ‘That’s why I’m still doing this,’” Raasch says. “That meant the world to me.”

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Raasch didn’t always know she wanted to be a nurse, but “I always knew I wanted to work with babies,” she says.

Having three younger siblings (and one older one) ignited her love of little ones. Raasch also spent a lot of time in junior high and high school babysitting – and she was good at it, a natural.

Being a nurse made sense for her, a baby nurse. So after graduating from Ben Davis High School, Raasch headed off to the University of Evansville to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She remembers her fear when learning how to give her first shot and the trials of organic chemistry class. But her professors were so helpful, she left Evansville ready to tackle her career dream.

Raasch interviewed other places, but while at Methodist, it hit her. This was where she wanted to be. She started in the neonatal intensive care unit in June of 1980 and by 1987 was working on the mother baby unit.

Through the years, she has worked mostly in the mother baby unit with a 3-year stint in labor and delivery. She has been in shift coordinator positions and in training posts.

All the while, she says, she has continued to learn new things every day. That’s why, when mentoring young nurses, Raasch has one piece of advice.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she says. “Follow the veteran nurses and listen to their stories.”

Because, as Raasch proves, do those veteran nurses have stories to tell.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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