Rita Berry, RN, looked right at home early on this Monday morning. She was wearing her clothing of choice — scrubs — and was caring for an infant just a few hours old. She was in her happy zone.
And there is a reason for that.
Berry is celebrating 50 years in nursing in 2021, which will also be her last. She will be retiring from Baptist Health Floyd in June.
While she may no longer be physically at her second home after June, she will never forget the last 22 years spent at the hospital. Being a nurse has been more than a job to Berry.
“I just love the babies. Every birth is a miracle to me. So many things have to go right,” Berry said. “I think this is more of a calling for me instead of a job. God called and I answered. It’s never been like a job.”
Berry is one of 125 healthcare heroes from Baptist Health Floyd who will be recognized throughout the year by the Floyd Memorial Foundation. Last fall, employees were given the opportunity to nominate people to be recognized as heroes for their courage and care throughout the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Berry received multiple nominations.
“As a way to appropriately recognize the incredible dedication, tenacity and compassion of these individuals, we will highlight those employees who were nominated as a Healthcare Hero of the Year in their respective departments or units in various ways throughout the year,” said Meredith Lambe, executive director of the Foundation.
Most departments or units will be represented by one nominee, and Berry is representing Women’s Health Services.
Berry, a Corydon resident, spent a few years working in orthopedics, but since 1976 has worked in labor and delivery. While her nursing career did not start at Baptist Health Floyd, she has enjoyed her last 22 years here.
Berry said she is ready to retire and spend time with her four children, two of which are adopted, and 13 grandchildren. She enjoys traveling and visiting her family.
“My daughter was in the military for 22 years and wherever she was stationed I liked to travel to see her,” she said. “I hope to travel and keep up with the kids.”
Berry has eight brothers and sisters and said she “has always been in a group.” She estimates that she has helped deliver 10,000 babies.
“There has been a lot of change in health care,” she said. “There are kids through the years that I have stayed in contact with. Babies I have helped deliver are now having children of their own.
“There was a little boy born here who was sick and now he is doing great. I keep up with him. We call him our miracle.”
While her working days are drawing to a close, Berry will never forget the babies and the many people she has become friends with over the past five decades. Working in health care has been her passion.
“I have really enjoyed it,” she said.