For 38 years, she’s been helping Riley kids breathe easier



Taylor Web

Respiratory therapist Cheryl Taylor works in the NICU: “I stay because I love what I do, I love taking care of the babies.”

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist,

Some might consider Cheryl Taylor a lifer at Riley Hospital for Children. After all, she’s been taking care of Riley kids since she was just out of high school – 38 years ago.

As a junior in high school, she enrolled in a program offered through IU School of Medicine to train to become a respiratory therapist. When she graduated high school, she was offered a job at Riley, then later earned a degree in the field, working weekends while attending classes.

“I stay because I love what I do, I love taking care of the babies,” she said.

Taylor works in the NICU, helping the tiniest infants – some born at just 24 or 25 weeks – breathe easier.

“I enjoy the acute care of the ICU setting,” she said. “Sometimes babies are here for months and months and they have lots of bad days and some good days. It’s very nice to see them finally be able to go home.”

When one of her former patients returned for a visit, the little boy had a surprise for her that couldn’t be bought. “He was just starting to talk and he said my name for the first time.”

Those are big victories in Taylor’s book. And achievements like that are the kinds of things being celebrated as part of Respiratory Care Week this week around the country, honoring doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists who care for patients with breathing difficulties due to chronic conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis, or as in Taylor’s case, preemies whose lungs aren’t fully developed.

Taylor, who is married to Todd Taylor and has a grown son, is among the most senior members of the RT team, if not the longest-serving full-time staffer. Lucky for her patients, she has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,