When Kathleen Rockhold, pediatric specialty operations manager at the Beeghly campus, graduated from high school, she realized her strong suit was nursing. Kathleen liked being part of a solution, particularly to patients who needed bedside care. It led to a health care career that spanned nearly 50 years, the last 13 of which Kathleen spent working at Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley. And although it’s been years since she provided hands-on patient care, Kathleen still enjoys resolving issues that clinical staff and patients encounter.
On July 25, Kathleen retires from Children’s. She plans to switch from problem solver to fun seeker, traveling in an RV and spending time with family, including 10 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. She may grow a garden, even though her father always said she grew the best weeds of anyone he knew! Maybe now, she’ll prove him wrong.
What brought you to Children’s?
The first time, I was getting my nursing degree and worked at Children’s as a nursing tech, later becoming an LPN in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). I got married and moved away. When I returned to Ohio, I worked in family practice, as well as for a geriatric continuum of care organization. A friend from Children’s told me about an operations manager position. I applied and was hired, and I began working at Boardman Medical Pavilion when it was not much more than steel girders and cement floors.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
Yes, but when I started at Boardman, I had 2 employees and 4 departments I oversaw. Currently, I work with 35 staff and 13 subspecialty departments on the Beeghly campus. Originally, Boardman Medical Pavilion was supposed to be an administrative center that supported St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital’s planned pediatric addition, along with several subspecialty clinics. However, Children’s acquired Beeghly Medical Park, scrapping its St. Elizabeth plans. Instead, Children’s renovated Beeghly and transitioned it into a pediatric hospital to serve Mahoning Valley. The Beeghly purchase led to Boardman becoming a hub as our subspecialties grew and we became Children’s first regional health center.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Being part of Mahoning Valley’s growth in a role that allowed me to be a leader, teacher, resource and organizer to our frontline staff. By doing my job, I help our staff do theirs. Together, our contributions deliver patient care and satisfy our patients’ families.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
The addition of our electronic medical records, EPIC, along with upgrades to our other systems, such as StrataJazz, Kronos and Infor. These systems provide real-time data, ensuring we have accurate management, business function and support systems in place.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Seeing an “aha” moment on someone’s face. Whether it’s accessing a service, encouraging someone through a project or solving a problem, I enjoy helping people resolve issues and think outside the box.
What’s your most memorable moment at Akron Children’s?
A few months before we moved from the third floor of Boardman to Beeghly, a plumber was hired to fix a water valve in our department. It sprung a leak overnight, and the next morning, our first- and second-floor neighbors arrived to find ankle-deep water, downed ceilings and walls and ruined carpeting. Needless to say, we weren’t popular!
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
A little girl and her mother came to Mahoning Valley. The girl told me she was in first grade and her parents had promised her a Build-A-Bear if she got good grades. She worried there might be a sick little girl who might not be able to go to school and earn her own bear. So, she had worked hard and now wanted to give hers to a little girl. She was earnest, proud of her accomplishment and never thought of keeping the bear for herself. I’ve often thought of that small child’s generous spirit.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
The idea of perfection is a moving target. I experience perfection by appreciating and feeling gratitude for the many blessings I receive.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Use your listening skills for learning and helping. You may overhear something that you can help solve. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Information is knowledge.
What couldn’t you live without?
My family, including my spoiled dog, Scooter, a German short-haired pointer
What’s the last book your read?
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
What’s the last movie you saw?