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Hostetter Celebrates 40 Years as a Nurse at SLV Health

In August, many employees will celebrate their Years of Service 5-year milestones, but one celebration is especially unique, as Kathy Hostetter, LPN, is celebrating her 40th year of nursing at San Luis Valley Health. Kathy took a minute from her busy schedule to sit down with the Communications Director, Donna Wehe, as she reflected on her 40-year tenure.

“I gave my youth to the hospital,” laughs Kathy. She started out as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) when she was only 17 years old. She recalled how the hospital has evolved through the years. “We had so much fun back then, but we did it all!” She remembers when the very old OB wing (structure has been torn down) where the ramp was out back and people would drive right up and walk in saying “I’m having my baby now.”

“Sometimes we would have four women all laboring in the same room. Then we would wheel them into the delivery room. We took pictures of the babies and made their own little ID bracelets with their name on them.” The Labor and Delivery was moved into a former wing, now housing administration, while the 2nd floor of the Regional Medical Center was renovated to where it is housed today.

Kathy remembers working on 3rd floor, or the med/surg where the hospital patients are. She recalls using glass IV bottles, which have really changed through the years. They took care of everyone, from patients needing a safe place to sober up to patients recovering from surgery. Through the years, needles became safer and more items moved to individual disposable uses. “We had a lot of traveling nurses, I remember, and they were fun to get to know, too.” The basic nursing duties have not changed all that much, such as performing assessments, taking vitals, giving medications, and overall patient care. “But what has really improved has been having more help and lower nurse ratios. That has really evolved.”

Kathy majored in her other love at Adams State, getting her art degree. “But I stayed working on weekends at the hospital, since my art couldn’t pay the bills,” she laughed. Eventually, she received her LPN from Trinidad State Junior College and later her IV certification. One of the overlaps with art was that Mrs. Velasquez, her nurse supervisor, recognized that she was really good at developing films. “I think I developed x-ray films for at least three years!”

When Deb Tringham was the OB Director, she hired Kathy, where she worked for 12 years. The new Professional Services clinic had been built and she recalls working for Drs. Hickock, Karabin, and Trousdale, focusing on women’s health, for 10 more years. After Dr. Karabin quit, she got called by Lauriann Blakeman to help in the outpatient surgery unit at the PS clinic. When the Regional Medical Center merged with the PS under the new umbrella of SLV Health, she got recruited back to OB by Jodi Garcia and Kathy told her when she accepted the position, “I am done working nights.”

Thinking of other ways healthcare has evolved through the years brought Kathy to discussing how babies being born to drug-addicted mothers are more common now, insurance and payors influence access to healthcare delivery, the traveling nurse culture is not the same as it used to be, and the high-risk status of babies staying in the nursery. “Back then we took care of a lot of babies and moms. Dr. Kelly tended to deliver a lot of babies, and he would just hand them over to us. Babies back then didn’t get flown out for higher levels of care. We had an incubator, and we just took care of them until the doctor thought they could go home.” She also commented that completing continuing education has evolved for the better. “We used to spend a lot of time in classrooms, but now we can take many of these classes online.”

One time she remembers walking into the old laboring room and the newborn was not waiting one minute longer. She helped that mother deliver the baby right there on the floor, cut the cord, and everyone was healthy. “A lot of people still remember me as their nurse and they will say, ‘Hey, you delivered my baby!’ And I look at them and can’t believe it because I can’t be that old, haha.”

Kathy was born and raised in Alamosa and her maiden name is Yohn. She attended Alamosa High School and met her husband Steve while motorcycling. She still loves riding, along with barrel racing horses and water skiing. They have three children and seven grandchildren, one being a very recent arrival! Kathy reflected on living in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley, saying, “We have everything people need here to make a decent living and a comfortable lifestyle.”

Jennifer Pacheco, RN, SLVH Case Manager in the Women’s Clinic commented on working with Kathy. “She goes above and beyond for her patients and coworkers. She provides excellent nursing care to the patients and always puts them first. Kathy is always willing to step in and help wherever she is needed. I am fortunate I have gotten to know and work with her. Thank you, Kathy, for making our team great!”

Editor’s Note: Kathy is not retiring! We are celebrating her 40 years of service with San Luis Valley Health! Congratulations on this wonderful milestone, Kathy!