TOPEKA, KS – Barbara Yittle, RN, BSN, MHASN, MOWCN, FACMN, KRZN, stood proudly on the stage of Topeka Memorial Hospital’s Smith Auditorium last Friday as she received the hospital’s award for 20 years of distinguished service. An elegant crystal paperweight and a certificate of gratitude were presented to honor her two decades of loyal work for Topeka Memorial.
Nurse Barbara (“Barb”) has been a fixture at Topeka Memorial since 1994 when she came from Manahawkin, New Jersey to help with reorganization of the hospital’s 13th floor surgical ward. The unit was closed in 1996 and moved to a new wing, but by then “Barb’s” entrenchment on the 13th floor had become indispensable, and she has continued to work there ever since. Like clockwork, she can be seen each morning wheeling her rolling briefcase through the main lobby at exactly 7:45 AM; the dependable squeaks of her Easy Spirit walking shoes scuffing past the hospital’s fountain make it obvious to everyone that her presence is the very lifeblood of Topeka Memorial.
“She’s like a well-oiled machine, you know — one of those machines that’s always making a weird noise in the corner of the room; you’re not sure what it does, but you just have a feeling that you need it,” said Dr. Jim Clarton, the hospital’s chief medical officer.
Since relocation of the surgical ward in 1996, Barbara’s 13th floor space has been used for storage of broken medical equipment and as an unofficial smoking area for hospital custodial staff, but Yittle’s dedication in returning to her office there year after year has earned the respect of colleagues and patients alike.
“I have no idea what keeps things so busy up there since there’s no patients or staff, but you’ve gotta admire her for keeping at it for all this time,” said critical care nurse, Jason Kelman, RN, CCRN.
As it turns out, no one on the hospital staff could name even a single facet of the laborious work that Yittle has been doing all these years. CEO Kathleen Penningtown voiced both the gratitude and ignorant bewilderment of the entire hospital as she stood up on Friday to deliver the award.
“We would love to thank Barbara for being there for Topeka Memorial through 20 wonderful years – for the way that she does the things that she does and the way that she is the person that she is. I honestly couldn’t even begin to describe all the things that she does for this hospital,” said CEO Kathleen Penningtown.
Yittle humbly smiled as she accepted the paperweight and strode confidently off the stage to return to the work of a lifetime.
For her tenacious efforts in sticking with a job that no one can identify, Barbara Yittle is this week’s DME Health Hero! Congratulations, Barbara.
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