The year was 1969, and what was originally thought of as a one-year work plan turned out to be Patty Kircher’s life work.
“My husband was in the service. If I signed on to work at Passavant for one year, my tuition to nursing school would be free. I planned to join my husband after working at Passavant one year,” said Kircher, who today works as a registered nurse in the Post-Anesthesia Recovery Unit (PACU). “But what happened next changed my path forever. My husband was sent to Vietnam, so I stayed on at Passavant. The rest is history.”
Kircher has been employed at Passavant for 47 years, the most years of service of any employee. If you count her three years of candy striping and three years of education at the Passavant School of Nursing, her association with Passavant rises to 53 years.
Her first job was on the Med-Surg unit where she worked for six years before transferring to the PACU where she has been working since 1976. In Med-Surg, she recalls being responsible for the second floor west wing. “We worked a lot of overtime hours. There were fewer nurses back then,” she said. “The shifts were eight hours and there were no electric beds, no air conditioning, patients came into the hospital the night before their surgeries and pain meds were given by intramuscular injection.”
A lot has changed since then. A major improvement occurred around 1990 when cardiac monitors were introduced. Kircher cited other important changes for patient care, including: SA02 monitors, which measure the oxygen saturation in the blood, IV pumps, ventilators and automatic blood pressure cups.
Some of Kircher’s fondest memories include attending employee picnics where there were skits performed by employees and physicians. She also remembers playing on the employee softball team for five years. She found her best friend, Ann Young, while working in PACU. “She knows more about me than anyone else,” Kircher said of Young.
As a teen, Kircher had hoped to become a math teacher, but her sister, who worked for Passavant School of Nursing director Gertrude Hohmann, encouraged her to apply to nursing school. Kircher did so and was accepted.
Kircher speaks fondly of her decision. “The Lord wanted me to be a nurse,” she said. “If I had not pursued a career in nursing, I would not have been able to care for my husband as long as I did.”