Looking back, Kim Oldfield, nurse program coordinator in Akron Children’s pediatric epilepsy program, has always been drawn to caregiving. It started with babysitting in her neighborhood. Later, it was her mother’s enthusiasm toward nursing and Kim’s interest in science that spurred her on to become a nurse.
“I thought I would be a nurse caring for adults, but a hiring freeze where I planned to work changed my plans,” Kim said. “I had also applied at Children’s, and when I was called in for an interview, I found pediatrics appealed to me. It didn’t take long before I felt like I had found a second home here.”
In fact, Kim’s love and compassion for her career was infectious. Over the years, six family members have worked or are working at Children’s, something that pleases Kim greatly.
After 44 years at Children’s, Kim retires on November 3. No longer tied down by a schedule, Kim looks forward to opening a new chapter in her life. She plans to spend time with her family and friends, enjoy Summit County’s parks and hiking trails, read, cook, host game nights and travel.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I graduated from The University of Akron nursing school before being hired by Children’s as a float nurse. I worked the afternoon shift in different inpatient units. Being a floater was hard because I wanted a place where I felt like I belonged and could contribute. After a few years and assignments that included being a staff nurse and charge nurse on the school-age floor, I found my “home” in pediatric neurology where I’ve worked with many brilliant physicians and clinicians.
For 19 years, I worked as a neurology nurse clinician. A large part of that job involved fostering relationships and communication between physicians, nurses and other allied health professionals, and educating patients and their families on neurological issues. Later, I moved into a pediatric subspecialty manager role, but missed patient care. After Children’s NeuroDevelopmental Science Center was created in 2004, I became its epilepsy program coordinator. It’s rewarding to work with patients and their families in developing treatment plans to control epilepsy and seizures, which can develop at any age.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I’ve had a front row seat watching the neurology field grow and develop over the last 40 years. I’ve been able to educate others about neurological diseases and disorders and had supporting roles in program development for trauma brain injury and epilepsy. I’ve also received several nursing awards over the years, including Children’s Magnet Nurse of the Year in 2017.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
The way patient care is documented has improved tremendously since moving from paper charts to Epic. It’s led to better communications with and access to information for our patients and their families. For instance, parents would call the office. Their concerns were documented, relayed to nursing and physician staff, and then they got a call back. Now, they’re able to ask questions through MyChart and get responses much more quickly. For some types of questions, it’s a time saver for families. Another change is the technology used for neurological exams. Forty years ago, an EMI scan was used. It’s been replaced by CT scans or PET/MRI scans.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Getting to know patients and their families and helping them navigate the health care system. I liked being able to tell them, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.” It makes their lives a little easier.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
Spreading my love of Children’s to my family and seeing them come to work here. My late husband, Richard, worked here for 10 years. Two of my daughters are here: Ellen Cohen, radiology clinical manager, and Leah Ott, staff nurse in the post anesthesia care unit. Additionally, Sally Begue, gift shop manager, and Matthew Leahy, professional billing supervisor, are family members who work here.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Get out of your comfort zone by participating in hospital activities. I recently volunteered to help give flu shots, which allowed me to meet Children’s employees I didn’t know.
What music do you like?
Country music and soft rock.
What’s the last book your read?
“Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter
What’s the last movie you saw?
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Walking my dog, Oliver. Hanging out with my grandsons. Cooking and vacationing with my family.