Topeka (WIBW) - She's been a voice for keeping you and your children out of the emergency room, and, now, she's the recipient of the Stormont-Vail Foundation's highest honor.
Darlene Whitlock says her love of nursing is simple - she says she always wanted to help people.
She hasn't stopped doing that since graduating from nursing school in 1970. She admits the methods have changed, having learned a lot of computers and equipment like CTs along the way, but Darlene says the passion for compassion she shares with other nurses hasn't changed.
For most of her career, Darlene has been the first line of care, as a trauma nurse in the emergency room. She says trauma is one of those things where you make a difference in moments, it's time-driven and fast paced.
In more recent years, Darlene's focus has been keeping people out of the emergnecy room. She is outreach and prevention coordinator for Stormont-Vail TraumaCare, giving countless presentations on issues like wearing bicycle helmets and seatbelts. She's advocated for stronger laws on chid restraints, graduated drivers licenses, even heading up a state task force on highway safety. There's nothing better than to know a death has been prevented because of the work, she says.
For all her efforts, Darlene this week received the Stormont-Vail Foundation's Bal Jeffrey Award, honoring distinguished contributors to health care in northeast Kansas. Darlene says the award belongs to all those she's worked with over the years.
It seems she's not ready for those contributions to end, either.
"I've retired three times and found I didn't care for it much!" she laughs.