Selfless act: Deeply rooted in health care and patient service
Tim Kafel began working at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North at the age of 18, right after graduating from high school. He has been working in the ICU his entire career, starting as a critical care technician, earning his associate’s degree and later a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Kafel’s mother influenced him and his sister to pursue careers in health care, and the family members have more than 60 years of combined service at UCHealth.
Always a selfless nurse, Kafel recently stepped up during a busy evening in the ICU at Memorial North. A critically ill patient who had many challenges during his lifetime, was near the end of his life. No family was near.
Earlier in the day, a family member had called the hospital to let staff know of the family’s decision to take the patient off of life support. The family indicated they would not be able to be make it to their family member’s bedside for several days.
Though the patient had burned bridges within his family, Kafel saw a need to be with the man as he took his last breaths.
“As a nurse, you don’t care about any of those things. You take care of them and be there for them regardless of what transpired during their life,” Kafel said.
Though the hospital has a program in place to provide companionship for people as they die, Kafel feared that by the time someone on call came in, it may have been too late. After completing his 12-hour shift, Kafel volunteered to stay as long as needed to be with this patient during his final hours.
“Nobody should ever have to die alone no matter what they have done in their life. We always try to be there with somebody,” he said.
The patient died four hours later, with Kafel at his side.
“At the end of the day, it all works out just fine,’’ Kafel said. “We are there to take care of the patients, and the ICU is just the greatest.”
Kafel said he and his team always do “whatever is best for the patient,” delivering impeccable care and working as hard as possible, even if it means making personal sacrifices to be there for anyone in need.
It’s what Kafel has been doing at Memorial since the age of 18, and what the Kafel family has been doing for a combined 60 years. And counting.