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.
Kris Swank grew up in Corning, IA, not far from Mount Ayr. Around 2003, she began working at Iowa Select Farms. “It was fun for a while,” she said. “But it started taking its toll on my lungs and it was really physically demanding.” After 11 years, she decided she needed to make a change for health reasons.
Knowing that she needed a career she could count on, she decided to pursue nursing. In 2012 she started nursing school at Southwestern Community College. “I graduated in 2014, and when I saw an opening at Ringgold County Hospital in 2015, I applied. I’ve been here ever since!”
Kris started as a nurse on the acute care floor, spent some time in the Emergency Room, and then moved into the surgical department. “I really liked surgery when I was doing my rotations in nursing school, so it had always been my goal,” she explained.
In a typical day, she cares for patients when they come in and gets them prepped for surgery. “We prepare necessary paperwork, complete assessments, obtain vital signs, start IV’s, and administer medications. We also follow our patients through surgery as well as into recovery and make sure they have everything they need.”
She loves the challenges that surgical nursing brings. “We’ve been busy. Some of it is related to Covid, but some of it is because we also provide infusion services from simple injections to administering chemotherapy. We have also added cataract surgeries and a pain management clinic!” She doesn’t prefer one kind of surgery over another, though. She enjoys caring for her patients and making sure they’re comfortable.
Kris has a difficult time pinpointing her favorite part of working at Ringgold County Hospital. But like many others on the nursing staff, it all comes back to her coworkers. “They’re the best!”
Kate Couch got her start and fell in love with nursing during high school at an assisted living facility. Her mother alerted her that there was an opening, so she interviewed and got the job. “Until then, I really had no idea that I was interested in geriatric care,” she admitted. “It was a good introduction to nursing. You become really familiar with that select group of residents. You develop relationships and bonds. It’s very rewarding to see how you’re appreciated.”
After graduating from Bedford High School, Kate Couch went to Southwestern Community College to earn her nursing degree. She graduated in 2011. “When you live in a rural area, nursing school is a good option,” she said. After graduation, she continued to work at Vintage Park Assisted Living. Once her first child was born, she moved to St. Francis Family Health Care in Maryvillle. After her second child came along, she spent some time at home caring for her children before joining the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic in 2015. The Clinic has been a good fit for the mother of three, (with another due in July!)
Awesome coworkers and the ability to build long term relationships with her patients is what Kate Couch loves most about her job as a nurse at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic. “It’s overall a really rewarding job,” said Kate. “We are all focused on what we need to do to keep everyone healthy.”
Like all healthcare workers, Kate has seen a lot of changes since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Things are starting to look up and get back to normal. Everyone is doing what they need to do now. At the beginning, many people didn’t take it seriously, but when it got to us, it opened up peoples’ eyes.”
Kate enjoys being part of the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic team. Along with her coworkers and patients, she appreciates being trusted by the medical providers. “Because we’re trusted, our patients trust us.”