Rick Brownfield has a lunchtime routine. The senior information technology specialist at Riley Hospital for Children gets a vegetable bowl at the Red Wagon Café, then stops in at Over the Rainbow gift shop in the ROC. There he picks up an iced coffee, beef jerky and a cheese stick.
He usually picks up some ribbing from Nancy Bluitt, too. Bluitt has worked as a cashier at the gift shop for 11 years and likes to kid with her customers.
“You sure you don’t want a Twinkie with that? Only 50 cents,” she says with a laugh. But Brownfield resists her sales pitch, patting his stomach and saying he’s getting his diabetes under control thanks to a healthier diet. If only he could stay away from the Girl Scout cookies, he adds.
Bluitt just loves to give him a hard time. “We argue all the time, but he’s a good guy,” she said. “I have the best customers in town.”
Brownfield has worked in IT at Riley for six years. The computer whiz loves that his job is different every day, as he provides technical support to the ROC, library, respiratory therapy and gift shops.
“If your computer’s not working, I make it work. I want you to have all the tools you need in your toolbox to be able to treat our patients.”
While he’s not involved in patient care, he knows how important his role is at Riley, saying his job is to “provide the best service to my customers so they can do their best.”
But mostly he’s here because of a debt he wants to repay. A debt of gratitude.
“Nine years ago, my husband, Brad, was diagnosed with cancer, and he went to Simon Cancer Center. Every day I come in to work is my repayment to IU Health for giving me these years with my husband. He’s a cancer rock star.”
The two live in a 110-year-old house in Indianapolis, so there’s always work to be done at home – in between games of World of Warcraft and hanging out with their nieces.
“A lot of people are surprised at the level of restoration work I do,” Brownfield said, both in construction and technology. In fact, the home is on its way to becoming a state-of-the-art “smart house,” allowing the couple to control their connected home devices remotely.
Brownfield will take a break from those home projects next month when he and Brad celebrate their 30th anniversary. Thirty years. It’s another reminder of his debt of gratitude.
– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist