For a long time, she was affectionately known as "Mother Mary." After 50 years of service to Doylestown Hospital, Mary Leatherman, RN continues to share the knowledge she's accumulated over all those years of caring for local families.
Mary graduated from the Grand View Hospital School of Nursing in 1962. After graduation, she spent three years in North Africa with her church working at a clinic. She joined Doylestown Hospital in 1968. She worked at the "old" hospital on Belmont Avenue. (The Belmont Avenue location was the second for the hospital, which was founded in 1923 at Oakland and Pine in Doylestown Borough.)
"Back then we only had one delivery room nurse," recalls Mary. And one doctor per shift.
Over the next several years, Mary and her husband adopted five children. She says she tried to resign on a few occasions, but the hospital encouraged her to stay on. She would fill in and help out on holidays as she raised her children.
Maternity care was quite different those many years ago.
"In the early days we didn't have all the technology," Mary says. "We didn't do epidurals. It was about that time we starting having fathers in the delivery room."
In 1975, Mary was part of the big move to the "new" hospital at its current location on West State Street. She recalls she rode over in an ambulance with a woman who was in early labor. She said the move went well, but the new building took some getting used to.
"It seemed so huge. I was so afraid of getting lost."
Mary was a bedside nurse up until about 10 years ago. During that time she was part of the beginning of many local families. Several of them continue to send her Christmas cards.
Mary remembers bonding with laboring mothers. She would give them back rubs and listen to their stories.
"That was a special time with patients," she says.
Without fetal monitors and today's technology, nurses had to rely on checking patients' physical signs and outward appearance.
"Mary is part of the whole progression in maternal care," says Kathy Donahue, director of Maternal-Child Services for Doylestown Health. "It was the nurse who was really in touch with the patient, using her nursing instinct. Mary has been able to bring that knowledge along and she shares it with everybody else."
Kathy says Mary was like the "mother hen" for a long time and that many nurses would go to her with questions. For the last decade, Mary has helped Clinical Manager Pauline Canelli with the schedule in the VIA Maternity Center.
"Mary is a wealth of knowledge," says Pauline, adding that Mary stays in touch with the nurses and has really gotten to know them.
"Mary is wonderful," adds Kathy. "She is like everybody's mom or big sister. She is very supportive."
There are many long-time associates in the VIA Maternity Center. "It's almost like another family," Mary says of the environment.
While Mary is the first associate to celebrate 50 years, numerous associates have worked at Doylestown Hospital for decades.
"Truly what makes Doylestown Hospital special are the associates that each day work tirelessly to bring creativity, professionalism and a strong work ethic," says Doylestown Health Vice President, Human Resources Barbara Hebel. "Like so many associates who have been here long term, Mary is tireless, exceptional and abundantly appreciated. Doylestown Health could not be who we are to this community without people like Mary."
Fifty years ago, Mary could not have imagined the changes in technology and the growth of Doylestown Hospital. She continues to work at least one day a week. She says she has the time to work, and enjoys what she does.
As far as future retirement, she says she'll take it "one year at a time."
About the VIA Maternity Center
Doylestown Health’s VIA Maternity Center is rated among the best in the region for maternity care with services available for every stage of pregnancy through the birth experience. The VIA Maternity Center features a 32-bed maternity unit that includes 9 labor, delivery & recovery rooms, 22 private post-partum rooms, and a Level II NICU staffed by CHOP neonatologists.
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