“Mr. Bubbles” brings smiles to kids on 8 East

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07/21/2021

Tekulve web main

Ed Tekulve is hanging up his teal smock after 11 years as a PCA at Riley. Now, he’s moving on to a new role in sterile processing at IU Health University Hospital.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

He’s known as “Mr. Bubbles” on 8 East. A loving tribute to a man – a teddy bear really – who spends his days bringing smiles – and bubbles – to kids at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Ed Tekulve has been a patient care assistant on the unit for 11 years. It’s a job he came to late in life, after working many years in warehouse management. But a conversation with his wife, Linda (now retired from her job as a secretary at Riley), and some of her friends put him on a path to a career in healthcare – first as a certified nurse assistant and then a PCA.

It was one of the best decisions of his life, he believes.

“The interaction with the kids is the best part,” he said. “I have a grandpa attitude and they love it, but I try to help both the patients and the parents. It’s a good feeling when I can do that.”

Unfortunately, Tekulve, a father of two and grandfather of two, is putting away the bubbles for a new assignment – sterile processor at IU Health University Hospital.

“I love the kids, but I need to do something different,” he said, adding that at 59, his body is starting to complain a bit.

He completed a sterile processing certification course offered through IU Health and Wayne Township Schools and begins his new assignment next week.

Today (July 21) is his last day at Riley.

“No doubt it will be hard for me to leave the kids,” he said. “I think everybody I work with here knows that.”

Indeed, Sarah McGregor knows that. Tekulve trained her as a tech seven years ago, and now she is a nurse on the same unit. She remembers how proud he was when he first saw her in the red Riley nurse uniform, even if his pride was couched in a little teasing.

“Look at you in your snazzy red,” he said to her, all the while pleased that she followed her dream.

“He has a heart of gold and loves taking care of the kids,” McGregor said. “He never complains, no matter how many times he gets floated to a different unit in a shift or how many patients he has. I know it’s hard for him to leave. That’s why we need to celebrate him and how much passion he has for the kids.”

While there was no formal party planned due to COVID restrictions, McGregor and others on the unit made sure to acknowledge their friend and co-worker in small ways. And that suits Tekulve just fine.

“It will probably be a little heart wrenching for me,” he said.

Still, he learned a lot from the people he worked with, and he hopes he might have taught them a thing here and there.

“We have good camaraderie. I’m old school and don’t know technology, so they tease me about that. But I bring my life experiences,” he said, “and I encourage them to think outside the box.”

On his last day on 8 East, he made one more trip to the supply cabinet to get bubbles for a patient. Marlowe Bacon is 14, so it’s been a few years since she enjoyed that bit of child’s play. But bubbles aren’t just for little kids, Tekulve said.

“I’m 59, and I blow bubbles.”

Nicole Klein, manager of clinical operations on 8 East, said Tekulve has been “an integral part of the 8E team and the excellent care that is provided throughout Riley Hospital.”

“Ed always brings a positive, caring attitude to work, no matter what task is asked of him. Whether he is assisting a nurse, fitting a child for a car seat, or providing 1:1 care to a patient, he always gives the best of himself. We will greatly miss Ed on 8E but are so excited for him and his new career path in Sterile Processing.”

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org