Irene Genet, home care coordinator in respiratory care, likes the comforts of home. Whether she’s decorating or unleashing her inner foodie, home is a special place. That’s why Irene works hard to help the families of children who need long-term help with breathing. If the family learns to handle their child’s respiratory technology needs, they’re a step closer to bringing their child home.
“In my role, I work with so many amazing families and their children,” Irene said. “When training families, I am teaching them to be a respiratory therapist and nurse, while still being their child’s mom and dad. The strength and perseverance that these families demonstrate has shown me how the love of their child conquers all.”
Irene retires on September 1 after a 36-year career, the last 20 years spent at Akron Children’s. She looks forward to enjoying time with her husband and family, creating fantastic meals, entertaining, traveling and being a snowbird in Arizona. And as someone who loves food and wine, Irene toys with the idea of studying to become a sommelier.
What brought you to Children’s?
While a student in The University of Akron’s respiratory therapy program, I trained at Children’s. After college, Al Gore, manager of respiratory care, hired me for the 3-11 p.m. shift. I started with a great group of therapists in a small department. I have worked with amazing people, some of whom I still work with. Not too many people can say that. I feel blessed.
What was going on in your life then?
I started at Children’s, and it has remained my home. When I got married and had children, I took periods of time off to stay home and be a full-time mom, returning in 2002 to be a full-time respiratory therapist. I’ve been here ever since.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I’ve always been part of respiratory care. I was a staff therapist before becoming a clinical coordinator. That role broadened my administrative and managerial skills. Six years ago, I became the home care coordinator, working with our chronic tracheostomy/ventilator-dependent patients. My job involves teaching and training patients’ families and caregivers and collaborating with Children’s multidisciplinary teams. I have had opportunities to help people with lung diseases. Working with patients who have asthma and their families is a passion of mine.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
Respiratory therapy as a profession has grown tremendously. We work with many types of patients, from those in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric intensive care unit to geriatric patients in the Burn Center. We’re a critical part of a patient’s care team.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
I used Children’s tuition reimbursement program to earn a bachelor’s degree from The University of Akron. My husband also attended the same program, earning his degree at the same time. When we went to our graduation ceremony, Bill Considine (Akron Children’s CEO Emeritus) was the commencement speaker, which was special since I worked at Children’s, and our tuition reimbursement helped pay for my degree.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
I have many memories of the patients and families I’ve worked with throughout the years. Some have been sad memories of patients that did not go home, but the majority are filled with great memories of smiles, joyful tears and going-home celebrations.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
It starts with coffee in my backyard. Now, with retirement, I know that my day can be filled with anything that I dream.
How many different places have you lived since working at Akron Children’s?
Funny enough, when you get close to retirement, you start to think of how your life is going to change. My husband and I built our house 37 years ago and it’s been our residence ever since. I’ve driven the same way (minus Akron’s continuous construction detours!) my whole career. Lately my thoughts are, “I am not going to be taking this route anymore.” It’s an odd feeling to think, “I am not going to do this or that at Children’s anymore.”
What music do you like?
I listen to country, rock and blues, especially the kind of blues I heard on a trip to Memphis recently. When my granddaughters are with me, I listen to a lot of Disney soundtracks.
What’s the last book your read?
“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover