Peg Knox: A Special Nurse for Special Kids

Peg Knox, Director of Nursing Services

When Margaret “Peg” Knox was in sixth grade, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. It was a toss up: either a cook or a nurse. She ended up in pediatric nursing, making a life’s work of caring for disabled and medically fragile children.

“In her 43 plus years at Cedarcrest Center, Peg has at every turn worked to make Cedarcrest a home first and foremost: a place where each child is loved, cared for and ensured an opportunity to do all the things children do,” says Cathy Gray, President and CEO.

As she prepares to retire in 2012, Peg admits she initially resisted working at the farmhouse that served as Cedarcrest’s first “happy home for handicapped children.” She only gave it a try because her mentor at Elliott Hospital, pediatrician Charles McMurphy, kept insisting it was a match. He was right. First she spent one day a week, then two, then all of her time “on the mountain.”

As technology increased survival rates for children with complex conditions, the job changed. The children being admitted to Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities were much more medically fragile. They required equipment like G-tubes for feeding and tracheostomies and other respiratory support.

After a while the increased use of life supporting technology took over too much floor space, and in 1990 Peg supervised a move down the mountain into the current, modern facility in Keene, NH.

For the past 21 years Peg has continued to deal with change as Director of Nursing Services. When no New Hampshire facility offered ventilator and IV care, she trained her nurses so families would not have to go out of state. As the need grew for short term stays and post operative special care for medically fragile children, Peg qualified the staff to meet their needs.

Even though Peg has been on call 24/7 for most of the past two decades, she doesn’t like to acknowledge any personal sacrifice. She says it’s part of the job to get out of bed in the middle of night to manage a medical crisis or stay with a child in the emergency room until the family can arrive.

“Families are so vulnerable in these situations, they need to know we are in their corner and their child is going to get the best care possible,” Peg said.

Peg is famous for bring Cedarcrest’s children and families together with her native Keene, NH community at events like the Spring Prom and annual picnic. Her loyal quilting and sewing groups across the state are legendary for the beautiful curtains, quilts and accessories they hand make for the children’s rooms. Even the child-size stretchers and positioning pillows have a whimsical, colorful touch because of “her” volunteers.

“Appreciation is what keeps people connected,” Peg said when asked for her secret.

Since Peg announced her retirement next April, she has been collecting a great number of thank yous herself from the families of current and former residents. With characteristic modesty she says:

“It has been my privilege to work with these children.”

To learn more about the Cedarcrest Center visit http://www.cedarcrest4kids.org/.