Schneck nurse recognized for 50 years of service

While she has only been based in three departments at Schneck Medical Center in her 50-year nursing career, Rhonda Pardieck has made her way around just about everywhere inside the hospital.

That experience has made her the go-to person for other nurses and employees.

No matter where she is, the goal is the same.

“I enjoy watching these people get better,” the 68-year-old Seymour woman said. “Especially in the ICU, they would come in so sick, and then you’d see them get better, and it was always nice to see them go out. Of course, you didn’t get that with everybody. But here in cardiac and pulmonary rehab, these people, they come for anywhere from 18 to 36 visits, and you can really see them get stronger.”

That makes her job rewarding.

“Just to see people get better and feel better because of something you’ve done for them, I think, is the biggest reward,” she said.

Pardieck recently was surprised with a party celebrating her 50 years at Schneck. She thought she was being called up to receive a pin for that milestone. She did receive that, but it was included in a framed box with her other pins, and her family and coworkers were there, too.

“Oh, I was very surprised,” she said. “I felt very humbled. I was certainly happy to see them all there, but when you work that many years, you just do what you need to do and you don’t expect to be rewarded for it. That was a nice surprise.”

Fifty years with one job at the same place is rare nowadays. Pardieck said she decided what she wanted to do for a career when she was a senior at Seymour High School.

At the time, her mother was sick and required care, and she was the one who helped provide it. That steered her toward nursing.

“I had thought about what I wanted to do, but I just really couldn’t think of anything,” Pardieck said. “She had an episode where she was very ill, and I had to call an ambulance and I had to do CPR on her, and I’m like, ‘Oh my, I’ve got to get my act together here.’ I had to do all of this stuff, but I thought, ‘I think I’ll just be a nurse.’ That’s what got me started.”

Pardieck graduated from SHS in May 1972 and started at Schneck as a nurse’s aide in August.

While working at Schneck, she also was going to school to become a licensed practical nurse. She earned that in 1974 through an Ivy Tech program at the hospital in Columbus.

“We went to a house called the Prall House right next door to the Columbus hospital, and our instructors were in there,” she said. “We did that for a year. I took classes there, and we did our clinicals at the Columbus hospital. I would go up there during the day and then come home and change clothes and come here (Schneck) and work until 11 at night.”

Since there weren’t many registered nurses at the time, Pardieck was in charge of the fifth floor as an LPN. That’s unheard of now, she said.

“One of them that did work with me was older and she wasn’t comfortable hanging blood and everything. I did that,” she said. “Especially as a supervisor back then on evening shift, I was the pharmacist, and I helped go get all of their drugs up there. I had to go to central supply and get supplies, and you had to relieve ICU, you had to relieve ER, you had to relieve pediatrics. That’s when I was skinny. I ran everywhere.”

Pardieck spent about 13 years working on the medical-surgical floor and 25 years working in the intensive care unit.

In 1982, she received her associate degree in nursing from Marian College. Ten years later, she and Charlene Mellencamp were the first Schneck nurses to earn a certification, which for them was in the area they worked in, critical care.

“You have to know all of the (body) systems and everything about it and the labs and be able to tell what’s going on with a patient by what their labs are doing or what their heart rhythms are doing or what’s going on in their pulmonary artery,” Pardieck said. “It takes a lot of studying to get through that.”

Nowadays, she said there are a lot of nurses at the hospital who are certified in a specialty. Pardieck said she has had to complete 100 continuing education hours every three years and meet other criteria to maintain her certification, and she recently received her 30-year pin.

While working in the ICU, she did house supervision part of the time.

“Really, I have worked everywhere in this hospital,” Pardieck said. “Especially when you’re a supervisor, that’s just what you do. You go around and I even took patients and took care of patients at that time. We had people call in sick, and you’d take a load of patients up on the floor.”

In 2000, she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Indiana University and became a registered nurse. She also was among the first group of nurses to get advanced cardiovascular life support certification.

In 2009, she began working in the cardiac and pulmonary rehab department and has remained there ever since.

“I actually injured my shoulder and had to have surgery, and I almost reinjured it when I went back to work in ICU from all of the lifting, so my doctor said I’ve got to get out of there,” Pardieck said.

Fellow nurse Shirley Stuckwisch approached her about an opening in the cardiac and pulmonary rehab area. Stuckwisch also was the one who got her started in the ICU.

“I looked at her and I said, ‘Boy, the Lord just puts you in the right spot at the right time’ because I really liked ICU and I really hated to leave, but I knew I had to,” she said.

Her role as a staff RN includes having heart and pulmonary patients do exercises to get their strength back and monitor them and their heart.

“That was one good thing when I came down here. I was familiar with heart rhythms and EKGs from working all of those years in ICU,” Pardieck said. “We have them on a monitor when they are exercising. We can look for any changes.”

She also goes over to diagnostic imaging to help with heart scans and stress tests.

“Since I’ve been down here, I’ve even worked in the vein center when the vein center nurse left abruptly,” she said. “My boss was over the vein center, so he asked me if I would go in there and help out until they found somebody, so I did that.”

Given Pardieck’s experience in various areas of the hospital, Director of Rehab Services Holly Wischmeier said she is able to consult with her to get her opinion on a patient.

“With Rhonda having that experience being able to read the monitors in intensive care, what better way than coming down to cardiac rehab and looking at those monitors,” Wischmeier said. “If something looks different, call Rhonda, give us your opinion on this. She’s just a wealth of knowledge.”

While she has only been Pardieck’s director since March 2020, Wischmeier remembers working with her in the ICU when she was a student at the hospital.

“Rhonda was your go-to gal,” Wischmeier said. “I worked as a tech, and Rhonda was one of the leaders up there. For her to be able to share those type of experiences and the history of the hospital, we have the history of the hospital for the last 50 years.”

Since 2016, Pardieck has worked part time three days a week. She said she has been asked several times how much longer she wants to work at Schneck.

“I really don’t want to leave,” she said. “I know all of these people, and everybody works well together. They are all kind, and they are like family. A lot of good friends in this area, so why leave?”

As long as she still enjoys her job and is able to do it, Pardieck said she plans to stick around.

“If it ever gets to the point where I can’t, then I’ll leave,” she said. “But I enjoy it. I see so many people that retire and then before you know it, they are looking for another job. I don’t want to go home and sit down or clean house every day, either.”

Wischmeier said she doesn’t want Pardieck to leave.

“I just really adore my job here, and I enjoy the people I work with,” Pardieck said.

So what about another 50 years?

“Well, sure, if the Lord sees fit to keep me going,” she said, smiling.

Pardieck file 

Name: Rhonda Pardieck

Age: 68

Hometown: Seymour

Residence: Seymour

Education: Seymour High School (1972); Ivy Tech (licensed practical nurse, 1974); Marian College (associate degree in nursing, 1982); Indiana University (bachelor’s degree in nursing, 2000); also has critical care certification and advanced cardiovascular life support certification

Occupation: Nurse at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for 50 years; now works as a staff registered nurse in the cardiac and pulmonary rehab department

Family: Husband of 43 years, Brad Pardieck; children, Marcie Aynes and Brandon Pardieck