A nurse who was a calming presence in the operating room for 58 years has finally retired, leaving behind an impact that colleagues say is impossible to measure. Sandra Glatfelter’s last day at UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster was Friday, her 80th birthday. Glatfelter remembers a time when surgical gloves were reused and stitches were sewn with ordinary silk thread, but as technology changed the field Glatfelter remained a constant. The reason, she said, was her love of the operating room’s urgency.

“I’ve always loved the big bad cases,” she said. “The craniotomy, the ruptured aneurysm.” She started at UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster when it was known as St. Joseph Hospital, LNP newspaper reported . As she neared the end of her nursing education, she was asked what department she wanted to work in. She requested the OR and never left. “When you graduate training, you think, ‘I’ll get a few years here under my belt and then go out and conquer the world,'” she said. “Well, I must be a slow learner, because I’m still here.” Operating room manager Josie Petri said it’s impossible to guess how many operations Glatfelter was involved in, how many patients she helped or how many nursing students she guided. Colleagues who learned from Glatfelter, like Petri herself, took to calling her Mama Bird. Now that she’s retired, Glatfelter says she hopes to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

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