MURRAY – Having a baby is one of the most exciting times for families, and Dana Bazzell, Director of Perinatal Services, understands this time more than anyone after being a part of thousands of deliveries here at Murray-Calloway County Hospital. Her shoes will be hard to fill after announcing her retirement, and dedicating 44 years of care to new moms, babies, and families in our region.
When she began college at Murray State, she had plans to be an elementary education teacher, however, after her son Chad, was hospitalized in the pediatric area, she was so impressed with his care, and how the staff treated her family, that she changed her major to nursing. She graduated in December of 1975 from Murray State University and began working on Jan. 6, 1976, after being hired by Nadine Turner, Director of Nursing at the time. She was assigned to the fourth floor — 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift — where Dorothy Higginbotham was her supervisor. Dana still has her first paycheck stub showing that she made $3.98 an hour when she started.
“The fourth floor was closest I could get to working with laboring mothers and newborns as it was on this floor that these patients were located. Working labor and delivery became my favorite area. Patients came for an exciting reason and they weren’t sick, in fact they were eager to deliver, learn about being a mom, and take home their baby,” Dana said.
At the time, Labor & Delivery was a part of the 4th floor but later that year it was separated and became a Labor /Delivery and Postpartum unit. She took the head nurse role of the unit in 1978, where she worked labor and delivery for six years. In 1984 she became the clinical director of this unit as well as the 4th floor medical surgical and gynecological area. She continued as director of the OB unit that moved to newly remodeled areas on 3 North and 3 West in February 2007 and the medical surgical and gynecological area that moved to 2 west in March of 2007. These units were the first in the hospital to offer all private patient rooms.
Dana was able to reminisce about some of her most memorable stories. She said just recently, she was here for a newborn’s birth in which she was also in the delivery of the newborn’s mother and grandmother.
She also remembers a shift when she worked in labor when it was so busy that she and Dr. Tom Green delivered four babies in eight hours, and another time when he was trying to calm a young teenage patient. He calmly asked her family to go back to the waiting room, and then she and Dr. Green both had to run to take the patient quickly to the delivery room just in time for the baby to be delivered.
Dana also talks about being in a delivery with Dr. Gene Cook, where she says everything was going well after the baby was born and she was attending to the new baby, when he asked Dana to assist him again because another baby was coming and it was not known prior that she was pregnant with twins.
“Dr. Green always made the patients and staff laugh. He would sometimes stand on his head, wear masks at Halloween, and always loved taking pictures of the new baby and the families after delivery. Dr. Cook was also always great to his patients, he delivered our daughter Keri. He had an excellent bedside manner that showed his patients that he truly loved his profession. I really enjoyed working with him as well,” she commented.
She has also worked with other OB/GYNs and pediatricians. She made sure to mention Dr. Conrad Jones who she said was priceless, had the respect of everybody, and took excellent care of his patients, which she knew even before because he delivered her son Chad. She could not forget Dr. Clegg Austin, who was the only pediatrician for several years and helped her with the medical needs of both her children until they were adults.
“I love that I decided to be a nurse in labor and delivery, there are sad times in which you cry with the patients, but 99% of the time it’s a happy occasion.”
“I just liked the closeness of all the people here – everybody helps each other. It really is like family. I have worked with such great staff over the years. I count on them, their knowledge, the excellent patient care they provide, and their teaching skills with new staff,” she said
Dana has been married to her husband Dickie for 49 years. She has one son, Chad, who is a sales representative in Bowling Green, with Avanos. Her only daughter, Keri, is a clinical pharmacist at Norton Hospital Downtown, in Louisville, and recently got married on March 14. Mickey is their rescue cat who is two years old.
After retiring, Dana says she wants to start working on her house more, doing some needed renovations. She loves to read and plans to do more. She enjoys being outside and is looking forward to doing yard work, gardening and walking at the MSU arboretum which is only down the street from her home. As a kid, she always enjoyed fishing with her dad at the lake and their family ponds, so she is planning to take some time and enjoy that hobby. Dana also loves to cook and bake, and is ready to make banana bread and chocolate oatmeal cookies that she is known for and has made so many times over the years to bring to hospital bake sales and to the staff. One of her bucket list items is to travel more and she has already begun planning for a trip to the Holy Land next January.
Dana’s retirement celebration will take place on Thursday, April 16 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. in the Private Dining Room on the first floor of the North Tower just outside of the Cafeteria.