STURGIS, Mich. — Katina Currier took lots of pictures with her fellow nurses in the lobby of Sturgis Hospital. They all cried, she said. And said good-bye. Then they walked out of the hospitals doors with blue and pink balloons in their hands.
“We put a message on our balloons and just sort of launched our hopes and our dreams away,” Currier said during an interview. “I put Good-bye and OB Family Forever.”
Currier and others released dozens of balloons in the air. They all clapped. Then they hugged each other and cried.
“It’s a small-town hospital,” said registered nurse Randy Falkenstein, who’s not apart of the OB team but stood outside in the cold to show his support. “We all know each other. We’ve all been together for years.”
Fourteen obstetrics nurses were let go from the hospital due to a restructuring. More are expected to come. Currier said the news was announced in late November that the birthing center was closing. Wednesday was their last day.
“This is truly a family,” said Lisa Cripe with tears in her eyes. “Unfortunately the community is going to suffer. We will not have this family here to take care of these moms and babies.”
Currier said a lot of the pre-services are going away. If patients believe they’re in labor, they won’t be evaluated. They’ll be treated in the emergency room or be sent to a nearby hospital. Many of their patients have been coming to Sturgis for years. Now, they won’t be cared for in the same way she said.
“A patient that we just had, a nurse of ours has seen them through every single one of their deliveries,” Currier said, her voice beginning to crack. “She wasn’t even working when she came in, specifically for them at their request. And they won’t have that anymore.”
Currier said many of the OB nurses are now going in different directions in life. However some are staying the field and some nearby.
“We just want people to know that we are still going to be in the community,” said Cripe, who’s a second generation OB nurse. “We won’t be directly giving care to this community. But the nurses are all going to be somewhere where they’re going to be using their resources and their training to better that area as well.”