Perhaps best known as Miss Karen, a moniker she earned for the clothes lending closet she was instrumental in opening in 2014, Karen Ingram is set to retire on Feb. 22 after 40 years of service to Akron Children’s.
Currently the longest-serving patient service representative in Locust Pediatric Care Group, she was recently named the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Service Award – an honor she calls bittersweet because she wasn’t able to share it with her husband, David, who passed away last month.
Described by co-workers as patient, calm, insightful and a natural mentor, Karen’s biggest legacy could arguably be mentoring young moms through an Employee Foundation Council grant-funded program she established to help them with life skills, Miss Karen’s Closet, or the 100+ PSRs she has trained through the years.
Touching so many lives hasn’t been as much of a job as it has been a calling for her.
“I can relate to people,” she said. “I’ve been through divorce, illness, deaths and financial issues. God has put me in a position to help others and there were just as many times I’ve been helped too.”
In her retirement, Karen looks forward to spending time with her 2 adult children, 5 grandchildren and traveling to Hawaii this summer with family.
What brought you to Children’s? Who gave you your start?
I needed a job, and my cousin worked in the hospital’s emergency department. She talked to her supervisor and got me an interview. My interview was on a Thursday and I started that Saturday!
What was going on in your life at that time?
I was married with 2 small children. I was an only child and had always been independent so it was important to me to make my own money – even though my starting salary was around $3.75 an hour.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I worked in the emergency department for 7 years and then moved to Locust Pediatrics. I’ve done patient registration and many other duties. Now, I mostly make appointments.
What has your biggest contribution been while here?
Wow, this one is tricky. I’ve just tried to do the best I can, help as many people as possible, be truthful, love people and be a good example for my co-workers.
What’s your most memorable moment at Akron Children’s?
There are so many I can’t possibly name them all – I sure have had a good time! One memorable moment was on July 4th when I was working in the emergency department. Someone brought in a barbeque pit and we took turns cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on the roof of the old ED. We got in a little bit of trouble after the fact, but not too much!
Recently winning the Distinguished Service Award was also very humbling. I’m about to retire and to be chosen tells me I’ve left my mark.
What do you look forward to most in retirement?
Catching up on sleep, getting up when I want and going anywhere I can afford. One bucket list item is going to a rescue center for elephants. I love animals, especially elephants and dolphins.
Do you have any advice for people just starting out at Children’s?
Do your job the best you can; don’t be afraid to ask questions, and enjoy the ride.
What couldn’t you live without?
The grace and mercy of God. Growing up my parents instilled in me a strong belief system. Going through life has made my faith even stronger – I couldn’t have made it through many hard times without it. My pastor, Robert DeJournett, and my church, St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ, are also important parts of my life.
What music do you like to listen to?
Gospel, old school soul music and smooth jazz.
What’s the last book you read?
The Bible. I read scripture every morning before I start my job.
Last movie you saw?
What do you like to do when you aren’t at work?
Relax, eat and spend time with family and friends.