Special to The Gardner News
Gardner resident Bob Stockmyer has seen many changes during his more than 40 years of employment at Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Hospital, formerly Gardner Community Medical Center.
Stockmyer is the head of maintenance at Meadowbrook, located at 427 W. Main in Gardner. He was hired in 1973 by Dr. Thomen Reece and Gardner Community Medical Center administrator Lee Peters.
At the time, Dr. A.S. Reece told Stockmyer to keep the equipment running, and that the patients always come first.
Itís a philosophy Stockmyer still adheres to today.
Stockmyer was born in 1943 at Reece Hospital, which was located in downtown Gardner. He attended Gardner High School and graduated in 1961. He attended Iola Junior College and graduated in 1963.
After junior college, he farmed and raised cattle, got married, and worked at Hercules Ammunition Plant.
From 1968-1973, he worked at Cramer Products, in Gardner.
When he started at Gardner Community Medical Center, the facility had 24 beds. Currently, Meadowbrook Rehab Hospital has 96 beds.
Stockmyer said that at the time he was first employed at the old medical center, he was the only maintenance man. He said that A.S. Reece used any methods he could in treating patients, such as using wood blocks under the beds and having burn patients lay on flattened carboard boxes, and using window weights and pulleys to raise patients. Stockmyer commented how at that time, hospital beds had the old hand cranks to raise and lower the beds, and now everything is electrical and computerized. He said he never envisioned what technology would do to the medical field and equipment.
Stockmyer said that in the early days of his employment at the hospital, he might be asked to do a variety of duties, including giving patients rides home.
ìI did a little bit of everything,î he said.
In addition to his regular responsibilities at the hospital, Stockmyer recalls that he and Gilbert Forbes, the former head of purchasing and housekeeping at medical center, used to cut meat at for the hospital cafeteria. Forbes was also a long-time grocer and meat-cutter.
Over the years he has had many strange reasons to report for duty, including a car in the window well of the facility, a tornado on the ground, and a person on the roof of the building.
Stockmyer said he would consult with, and lean on, several different people for advice and help when he first started as head of maintenance at the hospital. He said he called on local residents Larry Kessler and Vernon Pickert numerous times, specifically regarding electrical work.
In the early 1980s, Gardner Community Medical Center was purchased by Research Hospital. Stockmyer said that was an exciting time for the hospital, as modernization came to the facility, including the use of the ìResearch Eagleî helicopter.
Years later, when the facility became Meadowbrook Rehab, he remained at the facility as head of maintenance. He now has two, full-time employees and himself in the maintenance department.
Stockmyer said he is very proud of his years of service at the facility, including the excellent state reports regarding fire marshal and emergency preparation.
Seeing patients recover from major injuries and illnesses and going back to a normal way of life is something he truly appreciates and is a major part of why he enjoys his job.
Stockmeyer has lots of paperwork involved in his duties at Meadowbrook, along with fixing a wide variety of equipment.
The facility is in the process of transitioning to computerized work orders. He added that he is in every part of the facility everyday
He said he is also very proud of his attendance record at the facility over his long tenure. He has missed very few days over that period of time.
When he isnít working, Stockmyer enjoys hunting, fishing, woodworking and working on old cars. He also enjoys spending time with his children, daughter Monica; and son R.J. as well as two grandsons.
Stockmyer said heís at a lake fishing almost every weekend, but he has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
ìI love going to work everyday and seeing the patients and staff,î he said. ìAs long as my health holds up, I want to continue working.î