NORMAN — With 78 years of combined nursing experience, two Norman nurses are retiring from the Norman Regional Health System.
Joan Morehead, a nurse in Norman Regional’s Women’s and Children’s Unit for 42 years, and Joan Kemmet Greenleaf, an emergency room department nurse for 36 years, both recently said their farewells to the hospital that made their nursing dreams come true.
Morehead, a life-long Norman resident and Norman High School graduate, said her love affair with nursing began when she started volunteering as a Candy Striper with her mother.
“I credit it to my mom,” she said. “She’s the one that led me to be a nurse.”
Her Monday retirement saw her leaving a life-long passion of serving new parents. Morehead is credited with starting the hospital support group PRIDE, or Parents Responding to Infant Death Experience, around 1991.
Though she is leaving behind a work culture that Morehead described as a family unit, she said she can’t see herself completely walking away. She plans on possibly filling her new-found free time by volunteering again at the hospital.
Greenleaf, longtime Norman resident, said nursing was the only thing she ever longed to do. Serving in various roles at the hospital — including a bulk of her time in the emergency room, as well as operating rooms and the intensive care unit — Greenleaf said retiring is like saying goodbye to her family.
“The hospital has been extremely good to me,” she said. “They’re my family. I leave knowing they will continue to be my family.”
Greenleaf retired last week from her most current position as director of Health System Emergency Services. During her tenure, she has witnessed the creation of five different emergency room departments.
“I was there for 36 wonderful years, and there’s not a lot of people who can say their career journey was just wonderful, but mine was,” she said.
Though she’s only technically been retired for two days, Greenleaf headed back to the hospital Monday to celebrate the retirement of her dear friend, Morehead.
The two women met while in nursing school at the University of Oklahoma. During their years of service, the two women became friends. Greenleaf said they were so close, Morehead used to baby-sit her now adult children.
Now that the celebrating is over, Greenleaf said she plans on filling her time by spending quality time with her five grandchildren. She also plans on taking up gardening and learning how to play the piano.