Written by Erica
Marilyn Drebes and Peggy Kaiser spent their entire nursing careers at Quincy Medical Group. Both graduated from Nursing School and started working in pediatrics with Dr. Walter Whitaker in what was known then as Quincy Clinic.
Combined they have 95 years of service to Quincy Medical Group. They both look back on those years with fond memories, ones they still reminisce about today. They built lasting friendships, and a group of Quincy Clinic nurses gathers monthly for lunch.
Kaiser began at Quincy Clinic right after graduating from nursing school in 1967. Drebes started in the records room at Quincy Clinic as a senior in high school. She left to attend nursing school. “I had a conversation with the CEO’s secretary before I left and said if there were an opening for a nurse when I finished school, I would be interested,” Drebes said. She graduated from nursing school August of 1958 and started at the clinic in September of 1958.
Now both retired, they have returned to help with QMG’s flu shot clinic. They began their career with Dr. Whitaker and remember him fondly. He brought the first EKG machine to Quincy in 1930. In 1937, he merged his practice with Dr. Orie. F. Shulian, and Dr. Kent W. Barber and opened the Quincy Clinic. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized what an opportunity I had been given, to work and learn under Dr. Whitaker,” Kaiser said. “To this day he’s thought of as one of the most brilliant and talented doctors to practice in this community.”
Beyond his skill, both recall Dr. Whitaker’s friendly and welcoming demeanor. He never turned a patient away, and Drebes and Kaiser said they easily saw 100 patients a day. “He would say, ‘I always have five minutes to help,’” said Kaiser.
Drebes recalls one patient – a young girl who had leukemia and required frequent blood transfusions. However, the family couldn’t afford to travel to make it to the clinic for her transfusions. So, Drebes and Dr. Whitaker went to her. They would finish their day at the office around 8:00 or 9:00 at night, and then head over to see the family. Each transfusion took 2 or 3 hours once the equipment was set up. “I would sit and talk to her, and it would be 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning before we left,” Drebes said. “I grew close to her, and I knew the end was near for her, and I had just hoped she wouldn’t pass away during my time with her. She passed away one following morning.”
Kaiser remembers similar stories of Whitaker’s commitment to his patients. “No one ever walked through the clinic doors and not be helped,” Kaiser said. “Dr. Whitaker would see them, or he would get them to where they needed to be to get help.”
That included an unexpected visitor, rock band Def Leopard. They were on tour passing through Quincy, and one of the band members had gotten sick. “They obviously didn’t have an appointment, but they got the help they needed,” Kaiser remembers.
During their time in pediatrics, they watched their patients grow, and would eventually see those patients’ children. Even to this day, they often see former patients in the community who recognize them from seeing them as children.
They both point to those patients and their coworkers for the reason they stayed at QMG all those years. “We were like a happy family,” said Drebes.
Kaiser agrees, “The staff bonded, and we were always there to help each other. “I wouldn’t trade my career and experience for anything.”