From employee to patient to volunteer, one woman gives a lifetime of service to Delray Medical Center

Kathleen Sanford; trauma patient, rehab patient, employee and volunteer; Delray Medical Center, Pinecrest Rehabilitation and Outpatient Hospital
Sanford portraitKathleen Sanford, known simply as "Kay" to most at the hospital, had been a registered nurse at Delray Medical Center (DMC) since it opened in 1982. After 26 years of being on staff, she found out what it was like to experience Delray from the other side—as a patient.

"I was making a left-hand turn and was T-boned by a driver traveling nearly 70 miles an hour," Kay recalls. "My car spun around three times. That’s all I remember."

Kay's condition was serious: a broken tibia, broken fibula, fractured ribs and wrists, and abdominal injuries. She was transported to the Level I Trauma Center at DMC, where she was placed in intensive care.

"I had to have an ileostomy—an opening in my abdomen—done by surgeon Dr. Rodriguez. I was on a respirator and had to have a tracheotomy," she says.

The surgeons made sure Kay was out of immediate danger, and she recovered at DMC for a month. She was then transferred to Delray's rehab facility, Pinecrest, for five weeks of inpatient care.

"In all, it took me a year and a half to recover," she remembers. "The staff and doctors were all very good to me. I had intensive physical therapy, including speech and occupational therapy, and they were just wonderful."

Retired — but still ready to go

Kay retired from nursing following her accident, but she wasn't ready to give up spending time at Delray just yet, so she started volunteering. Having been one of Delray's first registered nurses back in 1982, Kay had a wealth of experience to offer, including experience in telemetry, triage, as a charge nurse, and case management.

"I know a lot of people who work here, and I wanted to give back to them. They say, 'Hello, Kay!' when I walk down the halls," she smiles. "They're nice, like family."

Now 81, Kay will be the first to tell you that being a volunteer keeps her active, healthy and fulfilled.

"I'm very grateful. All the good work they've done, the people who've helped me… it's not always a good outcome, but mine was a good outcome. I wanted to give back to the people I worked with," she says.

"Plus, I needed something to do! I couldn't sit at home. When you volunteer, you learn things. There's a good feeling being here. And they appreciate what I do."

During her time in case management, Kay talked about her tenure at Delray: