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Scrub Nurse Retires After Serving Kids for 21 Years

Patricia Long

RN Pat Long smiles in front of the operating wing of Shriners Children's St. Louis

“Can I give you a hug?”

That was the first interaction Pat Long had with a Shriners Children’s patient. It happened more than two decades ago during her job interview. She was walking out of the building with high hopes for a new step in her career when a little girl in a wheelchair smiled at her and asked, “Can I give you a hug?”

Pat didn’t know it then but the interaction was predestined. Her love for Shriners kids started at that moment and grew to include a whole generation of patients.

On February 1, Pat will walk out of Shriners Children’s St. Louis for the last time. The decision to retire comes with equal parts excitement and sadness.

She looks forward to being more available to her three grandchildren, two children and husband. Her family is her joy. 

Patricia Long with her family

RN Pat Long smiles with her husband, children and grandchildren (Photo submitted by Long family)

There are plans to travel to Florida and enjoy the sunshine. But, for now, there are tears.

“There are so many people who I’ve met and worked with – it’s going to be difficult to not see them regularly,” Pat said.

She said the operating room has always felt like home and the people around her, especially the surgeons, have been her teachers.

Then, there are the children.

“To see the positive effect we’ve had on some of the kids and to know that their quality of life is going to be better, that’s one of the main reasons I’ve stayed. This place just makes you feel good,” she said.

Pat remembers one patient from Russia who grew about half a foot thanks to treatment and spine surgery. She remembers another who came to Shriners Children’s with three arms. Research, creativity and talent helped that child thrive.

As it happens with most Shriners Children's team members, each child left an impression on her heart. Pat will hold those memories closely – forever.

“Pat has served Shriners [Children's] kids with her professional nursing talents and caring heart for two decades. We will miss her deeply but wish her years of relaxation in retirement! She earned it,” said Tammy Keesey, director of patient care services.

Walking out of the hospital for the final time, Pat will smile thinking about that first Shriners Children's kid she met and the thousands of others she’s served.

In the meantime, her message to the Shriners Children's team is: “Keep up the good work!”

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