ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - For a parent, there may be nothing more frightening than rushing a child to the emergency room, and nothing more comforting than Velma Hunt.
In a place of lost smiles, you can always find one on her face.
Hunt is a patient liason at St. Louis Children's hospital. It's her job to greet families and provide support in their moment of crisis.
"You learn to calm people down, " she explained. " You learn to sit with them. You learn to show compassion."
Lakisha Redditt rushed here today with 16 month old Blandon.
"My son has a fever of 103, " Reddit said.
Blandon was born with several health issues including Cerebral Palsy. She's had to make several trips to the emergency room. Lakisha says Velma is always there with words of comfort for her and for her other son, 3 year old Dylan.
"She reminds me of my grandmother, " says Redditt. "She really does. She's so sweet and she's comforting. She reminds me of my grandmother and sometimes I just want to hug her."
Somehow, Velma Hunt has grown up at Children's hospital without growing old.
She has worked at Children's longer than anybody. Ever. She was hired back in 1957 and has had a number of jobs including running the night desk.
"I had no nurses. I was the person there in charge in making sure that kids that were sick got back to the doctor, " she recalls.
She says it wasn't until she had to face her own unimaginable pain, when her son drowned on a Boy Scout outing in 1960, that she truly appreciated the caring doctors, nurses and staff who line up at the door in an emergency.
"They don't know if they have any money, they don't know what color they are, they don't know anything about them. All they know is try to save a life, " said Hunt.
One of the things that Velma is most proud of is that in her 55 years she's only had two sick days that's when a doctor told her she had to stay home because she had the mumps.
For parents like Cassandra Eakins whose 13 month old son Isaiah came into Children's with a bacterial infection, the healing begins with Velma.
"Every parent when you come into an emergency room not knowing what to expect, every parent needs somebody like that around them, " says Eakins.
Though she will celebrate her 85th birthday this spring, Velma Hunt has no plans to retire.
"I found out that this is not a job it's a mission, " she says. "Sometimes we go through life and wonder what are we here for? I found that out."
One dedicated woman making sure that no matter the ailment, a patients treatment at this hospital will always include some comfort and kindness.