Agnes Radzajewski worked at Children’s Memorial Hospital, now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, for more than 30 years.
Now, in the final stages of a chronic lung disease, her last wish was to visit the hospital she worked at and see how it has changed.
Radzajewski started at Children’s Memorial Jan. 2, 1957 and retired in 1988. She was a licensed practical nurse and worked as a sterile processing tech in the operating rooms.
Radzajewski even lived in the nurse’s dorm near the hospital, she said.
“I love the children and I want to see them live,” she said. “That’s why I dedicated my life to the children.”
Radzajewski was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult and that disease has entered the final stage.
Her last wish was to visit the hospital one last time to see how healthcare and the hospital, specifically the OR rooms where she worked, have changed.
On Thursday, that wish came true as Radzajewski spoke with employees at the hospital and toured the building alongside her daughter.
"It was very emotional and joyful," said hospital spokesperson Kathleen Keenan. "She was so grateful, especially to see people she had worked with."
While on her visit, Radzajewski ran into an old coworker and current hospital nurse Tom Schubnell.
"I had a delightful time and I'm so happy that I got to see it," Radzajewski said. "I'm thankful for everyone who I've crossed paths with in my life, and it was so great to reminisce on old stories."
Keenan said Radzajewski was a memorable staff member, and was greeted by a number of coworkers who worked with her during her time at the hospital.
"She wanted to come back and work that's how much she liked it," Keenan said.
Hospital employees remembered Radzajewski as a "see all, hear all" type of employee. They said "it was like she had eight eyes because she could see everything."
She told Keenan, "if I come back to work for you I'm going to be just as tough."
"These children are now adults, walking around because of her skill in the OR," Keenan said.
Radzajewski's daughter Julie Jarosz said the experience was a "dream come true" for her mother.
"It was wonderful," Jarosz said. "She just couldn't believe how advanced everything was and how big it was. It brought back so many memories for her."
"It was one of the happiest days of my life," Radzajewski said.