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From nursing school to the NICU: 44 years spent caring for babies together

Three nurses reflect on careers during Nurses Appreciation Week
Posted at 5:40 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 08:20:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — During nurses' appreciation week, Fox 17 says 'Thank You!' to all the hardworking nurses in West Michigan. Working extra hours and grueling shifts during the pandemic and beyond, these men and women help to keep our hospitals running.

At Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, there are hundreds of dedicated nurses. Three of them in the NICU just happen to have been working together for 44 years. That's a long time at any job, let alone inside a hospital.

"Just love what I do. Love working with the babies, with the families," said Carol Bos, NICU nurse, Helen DeVos Children's.

Liga Ruperts, Carol Bos, and Pat Gravelyn go back, all the way to Butterworth School of Nursing Class of 1978.

"We like each other. We laugh a lot in the break room. And can roll our eyes at other things together," said Ruperts, NICU nurse, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

"It is fun and relaxing with the girls I know. And sometimes when I'm working with brand new people you don't have that relaxed feeling, you don't have that buddy feeling that camaraderie," said Pat Gravelyn, NICU nurse, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

Looking back on those school days, the ladies remember what it was like when they first started.

"And you sat next to that baby and stared at them the entire shift because that's all we had is our eyeballs to watch them. Remember those little monitors we had...Oh yes, Oh my gosh that was crazy," said Ruperts.

Things are much more advanced now, but one thing remains the same, their commitment to getting those babies healthy.

"He started out as a 500-gram baby, so a pound. So, to be able to see him when he's 3 years old and doing well, it was fantastic," said Ruperts.

When tallying up the number of hours spent working on the unit floor, or the babies changed and fed, the ladies said they'd need a calculator. But, also, no matter how many hours or babies it had been, it never really felt like work.

"I think no matter where you are, you have to love what you do as a nurse, otherwise you're not doing the best for your patients," said Ruperts.

Ruperts and Bos have retirement dates in mind, Gravelyn says she'll last a few more years, but she's really going to miss her friends.