After 30 years, love is still patient and kind

UCHealth employees have 64 years of experience
February 13th, 2018
UCHealth employees Sally and Bob Devereux.

After 30 years of marriage, Sally and Bob Devereux are obviously still in love with each other. And after 64 years combined total in the nursing field, they still love their jobs, too.

Sally is a registered nurse working in the new virtual ICU program for UCHealth.

“We remotely monitor ICUs at other locations, such as the UCHealth Burn Center at Anschutz and the ICU at Longs Peak up north,” she said. “We use special computers and cameras in patient rooms as a second set of eyes. We don’t take the place of the primary care nurse, but act as consultants if they have questions.’’

Bob is also an RN, working in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit. As a CT/ICU nurse, he works at the bedside, helping post-op patients who have been through heart and lung surgeries.

The couple met in 1979 while both were working at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a respiratory therapist and she was an EKG tech and nursing student at St. Louis University. They were introduced by mutual friends. They ultimately married in 1988 and will celebrate their 30th anniversary this June.

The couple moved to Colorado Springs in 1985 and she worked in the ICU at a hospital that is now closed. Bob was doing home health care at that time and his company moved him to the Springs when they opened a new office.

“We had been coming to Colorado for years, camping and skiing. We were just drawn to it,” Sally said.

“Then I went to nursing school and graduated in 1990, and then got a job at Penrose Hospital,” Bob said. “I was the first male nurse to work on their medical-surgical floor, if you can believe that.”

“Isn’t that crazy?” Sally added.

Right after Bob got his nursing degree, they had to move back to St. Louis in 1991 due to a family illness. Both of them worked there until 1995, when they returned to Colorado and bought a house in Castle Rock “when you could still afford to buy a house in Castle Rock,” Bob said. “That’s when we started working for University of Colorado Hospital at the at 9th and Colorado location in Denver.”

They’ve been working for UCHealth ever since – for 22 years

In 1999, tired of the commute, they bought a home Denver. Although they’ve mostly worked at the same location, they don’t’ carpool.

That’s because she drives to work and he rides his bike. (“It’s a hair issue,” she said, laughing.) And they don’t always work the same days.

They don’t have lunch together, either.

“Everybody always asks me if I’m going to have lunch with Sally, but we can’t make it work. I only get 30 minutes,” he said. And Sally often doesn’t take a regular lunch break. “I carry pocket food,” she confessed. “I’m pretty busy.”

Between them, UCHealth employees Bob and Sally Devereux have 64 years of nursing experience. He works as an RN in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit and she works as an RN in the new virtual ICU program.

They also work in very far apart units of the complex. Despite all this, they do sometimes “share lunch,” Sally added. They’ve found innovative ways to smuggle brownies or flowers to each other when they’re at work – just a quick reminder for one another of their love.

Because they work 12-hour shifts, they don’t work five days a week, so they often have two or three days a week to pursue their favorite Colorado activities – hiking, camping, bicycling, backpacking and, in recent years, snowshoeing.

“We used to ski,” Bob said, “but we like snowshoeing so much better these days.”

“We used to do hut-to-hut trips with a group of friends, but now we like the quieter experience of snowshoeing together, Sally added.

They both still love their jobs, after all these years, they said.

“My job was so dynamic, it’s why I could do it for 22 years,” Bob said. “It’s a teaching hospital, so there’s always something to learn. Surgeons are always looking for better outcomes. There’s new equipment, new techniques, so it stays interesting.

“Working with new young people and new doctors” is energizing, too, he added. “And I’ve met the most amazing people (patients). I’ve met coal miners and ranchers and Native Americans and there’s a lot of pleasure in meeting new people.”

Sally echoes his enthusiasm.

“As I get close to retirement, I realize how much I truly love my job,” she said. “But as much as I love my job now, I really loved the medical ICU. The people there were so great.  I had great managers and co-workers. I know people who have worked 25 and 30 years in the same unit. No matter how hard the day was, you were never on your own. Everybody was there to help. I get so emotional; I could cry talking about it. It was such a family.”

“I feel very fortunate I was able to work there for that long,” from 2007 until last year.

But as much as they love their work, they’re also looking forward to retirement – later this month.

“We’re taking the plunge,” Sally said.

So what are their plans?

“Our plans are not to go to work,” Bob said, laughing. “We’re open-ended now, so when we travel, we don’t have to return on a certain day.”

Their first big trip comes in April, when they’ll visit the United Kingdom, Scotland and Barcelona for a month. Then they plan to go to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June, and “really are just looking forward to getting out and camping and going where we feel like, with no time schedule,” Sally said.

“I might even start fishing,” Bob added.

They’ll be spending a lot of time together, so they know their retirement also needs to include some separate pursuits.

“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but we’re really looking forward to it,” Sally said. “Between us, we have 64 years of nursing experience. Now we have to shoot for 66 years of non-nursing experience.”

Bon voyage, Sally and Bob, and thanks for the love.

About the author

Linda DuVal is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs who writes articles for UCHealth.