The leader in the laundry room

Patrick Kiley is retiring after 48 years in the laundry department at Sanford Health.
Patrick Kiley is retiring after 48 years in the laundry department at Sanford Health.

About 3:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, a cab pulls up to a house not far from Lincoln High School.

Pat Kiley is waiting for it.

The cab – the driver’s name is Eldon – will take him to Sanford USD Medical Center, where he will arrive early for a shift that starts at 4:30 a.m.

A co-worker will take him home roughly nine hours later.

In between, Kiley will stand over a pile of bedding, surgery linens and towels and sort laundry.

“We met my first day,” his boss, laundry manager Braco Ivanic, remembers. “The first time you meet him, you will remember him the rest of your life.”

That was about 20 years ago.

And even then, Kiley was a department veteran.

He has worked at this same job since he was a student at Washington High School. He’s never left – never even been tempted to leave – until now.

After more than 48 years in the laundry room, he’s planning to retire.

“They sent me over here,” he told me, as we sat down to talk about his career and I asked how he got the job in the first place. The school had connected him with it, he explained.

He then was quick to fill me in on the (pun intended) laundry list of bosses he’s had over the years.

it reminded me what a significant role leaders play in how employees view (and in this case review) their careers.

“He always likes to talk with the manager and bring new ideas,” Ivanic told me. “A lot of people work five years here or there or change titles, but what’s unique is (for him) it’s one company, one job, all his life.”

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