Ringgold County Hospital is celebrating the hard work, compassion, and dedication of nurses everywhere. We are especially thankful for all the nurses in our hospital and the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic who care for our community every day. Each month, we’re profiling two more outstanding nurses for their contributions.
Katie Smith, RN is originally from Des Moines and now serves as the Health Coach for the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic. A Registered Nurse, she was interested in pursuing careers in psychology or criminal justice during High School, but in the end decided on nursing because she wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives. After she graduated from Des Moines Community College as an RN, she moved to Mount Ayr to be near family. She started her nursing career in acute care at Ringgold County Hospital. “I moved here as a single mom,” she said. “I love this community. It’s laid back and everyone helps each other out.”
Although she enjoyed working at the hospital, when an opening came up, she opted to move to the clinic. “I like the preventative care approach to nursing,” said Katie. “I like focusing on wellness and how body, mind, and spirit are all connected.” So, moving into the Health Coach role was a natural when it became available two years ago. “It was the perfect next step in my career. I like to try and keep people healthy.”
Katie knows she can help people because she shares many things with her patients. “I’m not this super-healthy person who’s naturally thin. I’ve struggled with my weight, thyroids, anemia. So, I know what it’s like to have someone hold you accountable. I really have to work at it myself.”
Working individually with her patients is the favorite part of Katie’s job. “I love talking with them and getting to know their stories. Honestly, I think I learn more from them than they do from me! But what’s really rewarding is feeling as though I’m making a difference.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how she interacts with patients. “We do a lot more over the phone,” she said. “But I feel like I’ve picked up a lot more patients. I see conditions like diabetes, COPD, and people who want to lose weight or stop smoking. I do a lot of teaching.”
For another month, Katie’s spending most of her time with her newborn son, Gavin, who was born on November 21. The health coach, wife, and mother of two will have her hands full when she returns to work full time on February 1st.
Melanie Staver, LPN is a native Iowan who grew up on a farm north of Creston. After graduating from high school in Orient, she went to college and earned a degree in biology. About 16 years ago, she and her husband moved back to the area from Northern Iowa and started farming his family farm.
Along with raising cattle, corn, soybeans, and hay, they’re raising three children, all of whom are now teenagers. Seven years ago, Melanie went back to school at Southwestern Community College and earned her nursing degree. “I discovered that jobs were hard to come by in biology. I’ve always been interested in the medical field, and nursing is one of those careers where you can always find a job,” she said. Because of her biology degree she had many of the prerequisites out of the way, which made it easier to earn her LPN.
She immediately started in the surgery department at Ringgold County Hospital and has been here for six years. “I assist with the surgeries,” said Melanie. “It’s a lot of fun.” Like many RCH staff members, it’s her coworkers that are the favorite part of her job. “We have great people here. And we’re truly a team. Everybody supports each other, and we like to have fun! It makes some of the long, stressful days go by faster.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things in 2020. “It affected us a lot in the beginning,” explained Melanie. “All elective surgeries were put on hold. There was lots of uncertainty. But now, we’ve gone back to normal for the most part. We’re busy as can be. The one thing we have to be aware of is the number of in-patients already on the floor. Emergency surgeries will always happen. But we need to be sure we can take care of all of our patients.”
Pandemic or not, life is full and busy for Melanie. Between surgical nursing, three kids in sports, and a farm to help with, she’s got her hands full. And she enjoys it all!