In memory of Ken Haigler, RN

Ken Haigler smiling and sitting next to his partner Gina Janas

Eight months ago, we lost IMCU nurse Ken Haigler in a tragic bicycle accident.

His friends, coworkers and partner, Gina Janas, funded a memorial tree in his honor. It was recently planted by the Let’s All Play Place on Salem Hospital’s campus.

Ken loved his work and his work loved him. His positivity and compassion were contagious. The staff comments on the Daily Dose (internal newsletter) announcing his passing last May recall a remarkable care provider. Ken lent a listening ear, a thoughtful explanation and skilled care to each of his patients and their families. He exemplified the best parts of health care and led by example.

Ever a songbird, Ken had a tune for any occasion. He enjoyed the stylings of Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Rush, and Marillion. Gina selected the quote on the tree’s plaque to honor the way Ken lived each day, and to comfort those he left behind. There among the roots of the ash tree, a symbol of life, is the reminder to dig deep within ourselves to find courage and carry on. 

Ken Haigler memorial plaque

Though the pandemic has prevented a gathering to view the tree, all are welcome to visit it. Sit for a peaceful moment on the wall in front of Ken’s tree as it grows, surrounded by the sound of children playing. 

Aerial view of Ken Haigler memorial location at Salem Hospital campus

He lived each day joyfully and adventurously, and that passion flowed out from him into the hearts of our patients and Ken’s coworkers. Those who had a chance to work closely with Ken got to hear his tales of rock climbing, cycling, surfing, and traveling around the world. Gina shared a poem Ken wrote that captured his ecstatic admiration of nature, exploration and connection to the world. 

I am a clear stream in the Arctic Circle 
I wonder how far I will run
I hear faintly the gentle dreams of salmon as they move through my waters
I see the Brooks Range disappear behind me as I move south across the tundra
I am a glacial stream growing larger by the moment
I pretend to compromise my banks and flow silently through the spruce and willow
I feel the wind upon my surface, the aspen and maple leaves
floating all yellow as the sun
I touch the whiskers of a wolf as he pauses to drink, shoulders dropped
I am a swift gray river
I understand now where I am headed
I dream strange dreams that I have been here before
I hope that I may forever run, intact, pure. 

-Ken Haigler