by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

Pat Peck has a passion for children. She connects with kids in various walks of life.

“It’s amazing. It’s what I do it,” said Peck, RN, CCRN, ICU nurse educator at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. “I love the kids.”

While raising her family, Peck connected to other kids in places that made an impact. She stepped in one summer to substitute as a camp nurse to help the kids with special needs. It takes a critical care nurse like Peck to oversee the medical needs of campers with muscular dystrophy in an area camp. Peck and her now-grown children volunteered each summer at the one-week camp for children with muscular dystrophy for more than a decade. The campers inspire Peck and her family who come back to help each year.

“If you met these kids, you would do it,” Peck said. “They are just amazing — what these kids deal with on a daily basis. Anyone else would give up. They smile. They never complain. They are absolutely wonderful.”

Peck founded a weekend camp for the young adults who aged out of the camp. Each October she sponsors a Halloween-themed camp with fishing, hot dogs and s’mores. Children with muscular dystrophy typically do not live past their twenties, Peck said. The weekend retreat is their chance for a little independence away from home, she said.

“This year is the fourth year — the October bash,” she said. “They just have a ball.”

Peck serves the community in other ways. She helps to assess senior patients in rural Kansas and coaches volleyball for youth. Volleyball fees were a challenge for some of the families when her children were young. Peck founded a non-profit volleyball league and began to coach. Though her children are grown, Peck continues to coach the teams, waiving the coaching fee, to stay connected to youth.

“I love the kids,” she said. “It keeps me from having empty nest syndrome.”

Peck’s efforts in community service earned her the Frist Humanitarian award from Overland Park Regional Medical Center of HCA Midwest Health System. Peck says she shies from the limelight, but was touched by the recognition.

“I was so honored. It’s amazing,” she said. “I am so thankful I was nominated for that.

I don’t feel I deserve it.”

Peck switched to nursing from accounting when her father had open heart surgery. She saw outstanding nurses who cared for him and some who did not have time.

“I saw the impact it had on my dad,” she said. “I knew that is what I wanted to do. There is no profession that is more rewarding than nursing.”

Peck is extremely dedicated and committed to the development and growth of new nurses, said Sue Marchetta RN, BSN, MA, director of critical care at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. She wants to give the best care possible, Marchetta said.

“Pat has boundless energy,” Marchetta said. “She never stops. She would do anything for anyone.”