Retired nurse stayed calm, saved lives in emergencies
Sandy Schweikarth kept her cool and took charge during emergencies that would cause others to panic.
Even when she wasn’t on duty as a licensed practical nurse, others benefited from her know-how and skills.
When daughter Shana Hudson was young, Schweikarth, though in the late stages of pregnancy with a younger sibling, jumped in to save her from drowning in a relative’s swimming pool. “I was in one of those inflatable doughnuts,” Hudson recalled. “I went under and my feet got tangled up, and I couldn’t get back up. My mom saw me and pulled me out of the water.
“If something happened that was an emergency situation, she stepped in and did what she needed to do. She was able to stay calm. She was pretty reliable.”
Sandy Schweikarth of Level Green died Sunday, July 14, 2019, at her home, during a second battle with cancer. She was 68.
Born Nov. 14, 1950, in Wilkinsburg, she was a daughter of the late Merle and Irene Bielick.
A 1968 graduate of Trafford High School, Mrs. Schweikarth completed her training as a nurse at Westmoreland County Community College.
“I think she wanted to be a nurse at a very young age,” Hudson said. “That’s what God called her to do.”
Mrs. Schweikarth worked more than 40 years in nursing, beginning at the former Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg and ending her career in the gastrointestinal lab at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.
She continued to draw upon her skills when a medical crisis occurred outside the hospital walls. During a trip to Florida, she performed CPR on an elderly man who collapsed outside a grocery store.
She’s credited with saving a grandson, who, as a toddler, was choking on a piece of food that couldn’t be dislodged by probing his throat.
“He was turning blue, and my mother walked into the room, turned him over and gave him a firm pat on the back,” said the boy’s aunt, Kristy Sherosky. “She popped it right out. She checked his eyes and vitals, and he was good to go.”
Their mother’s medical training had one downside for Sherosky and her two siblings. “You couldn’t get away with pretending to be sick to get out of school,” she said.
Mrs. Schweikarth found time between her shifts at the hospital to attend all her children’s school-related activities and to prepare home-cooked meals.
“It was the meat-and-potatoes kind of food that sticks to your bones,” Sherosky said, noting her mother’s hobbies and attire were basic. She collected penguin figurines and pens and, when she wasn’t wearing scrubs at work, often preferred the comfort of pajamas at home.
Though not keen on traveling, she took lengthy trips to see her grandchildren in Tennessee.
When Mrs. Schweikarth received her cancer diagnosis, “her whole demeanor was, ‘OK, this is what’s happening. What do we do next?’ ” Sherosky said. “She was very strong. She held it together for the rest of us.”
Mrs. Schweikarth is survived by her husband of 44 years, James; three children, Jason, of Pittsburgh, Shana Hudson, of Maryville, Tenn., and Kristy Sherosky, of Plum; eight grandchildren; three siblings.
Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in John M. Dobrinick Funeral Home, 702 Seventh St., Trafford. Parting prayers will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the funeral home, followed by a funeral Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. Regis Church, Trafford.
Interment will follow in Good Shepherd Cemetery, Monroeville.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .