Recognizing CDHS Staff During National Nurses Week 2017

Nurses play a critical role in keeping people safe and healthy at our facilities that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In honor of National Nurses Week and Public Employee Recognition Week, we're featuring some of the nurses who inspire us every day with their commitment and service.

Robyn Suiter, Nurse Practitioner and Lead Clinician, Spring Creek Youth Services Center

Robyn SuiterRobyn has been with the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) since July 2000, and she exemplifies excellence in nursing practice and leadership. Under her guidance, the clinic at Spring Creek Youth Services Center received the first ever 100 percent compliance in a recent audit of DYC’s medical services.

Here’s how Robyn describes her career:

"I became a nurse because it was the only thing I ever wanted to do.  After working as a pediatric Congrats to Kelly Wade, RN at Colorado Mental Health Institute!
RN for several years I knew I wanted to go on to become either a nurse practitioner (NP) or a pediatrician, and spent a long time carefully considering the options. Ultimately I decided that I really am more connected to the nursing model than the medical model, so becoming a PNP was the best fit for me.

I love working with adolescents and always have. I've chosen to specialize in at-risk adolescents, and believe they really are a lot of fun.  Their capacity for resilience and growth never ceases to amaze me. The team I work with is fantastic, and I really enjoy spending 40 hours per week with them!  I've also enjoyed precepting NP students for the past several years and appreciate that the facility I work for supports and encourages me to do that.  

I work in a detention facility, and my professional experiences are so varied.  There is always something unusual and interesting going on.  Last year I diagnosed a case of Lyme disease in a human trafficking victim.  This was the first case of Lyme disease I had seen in 15 years!

Lately I'm a bit obsessed with the TV series Outlander and dream of going through the stones and meeting Jamie in Scotland.  If you're a fan--you'll understand."


Kelly Wade, RN, Colorado Mental Health Institute, Pueblo

Kelly Wade is an acu-detox specialist at the Colorado Mental Health Institute, Pueblo (CMHIP). Thirteen of her 21 years were in the lockdown unit, until eight years ago when Kelly moved to the Circle program, a 90-day intervention for individuals with mental health and substance use needs. For these patients, Kelly helps coordinate their treatment which includes group therapy, medical and dental services, and alternative stress management techniques, including auricular acupuncture, or acupuncture of the ear.  

“I don’t think we come into the world with stress and anxiety -- it is created,” Kelly said.  “I think auricular acupuncture helps get people back in balance. It is especially helpful reducing stress for people in withdrawal, or with anxiety or insomnia.” 

Wade was trained in the practice 10 years ago, though she started off very skeptical. She knew that “acu-detox” was a way to help people in detox with stress management, especially those in opiate withdrawal. 

Kelly explained: “[CMHIP] put the protocol in place and people are having great results. It is kind of like yoga. It isn’t required, but the clients who use it and know it can work and use it a lot during their stay”.  Kelly has also volunteered her services to assist first responders and community members as a part of disaster relief efforts. 

Wade always knew she would be a nurse and was interested in the profession from a young age. After becoming a mother, she decided she wanted a way to make a difference and support her family. “I like the feeling you get when you are making a difference in someone’s life, that you are giving them hope that they can do this, without drugs. When they come in they are so beat down and it is nice to see them be themselves and to see them succeed.”

In her spare time, Kelly enjoys caring for her many grandchildren, spanning in age from two months to 25 years. 


Kat Keeth, LPN, Bruce McCandless Veterans Community Living Center at Florence

Kat KeethAs a you  ng woman, Kat experienced several major health issues that caused her to be a patient too many times, including 17 major surgeries. Kat says she encountered some excellent nurses while she was a patient, and she also encountered some who were lacking in skill or compassion.

“No one realizes what it is like to have to lay in a bed with tubes everywhere and helpless unless they’ve been there themselves,” Kat said.
After all of that, she says she felt it was her calling to serve others with medical needs, so she became a nurse. Kat’s entire 17-year nursing career has been with CDHS. She worked at Walsenburg Veterans Community Living Center for 10 years, and has now worked at McCandless Veterans Community Living Center for 7 years.

Kat is the charge nurse for 25 people – managing many aspects of their care, including medication and treatment administration, insulin checks, updating physicians with any concerns, etc.
She says every day is different, and she never knows what one day will bring until she arrives. She says she embraces the Eden Alternative philosophies, and believes the 10 principles are important to incorporate into her day. When asked for an example, she explained she enjoys giving residents a sense of purposes.

Spending time with the residents is Kat’s favorite part of the job, she says. “You know, it’s always nice when I come back from having some time off, and have them ask, ‘Where have you been?’”

Kat also organizes and coordinates what has become a popular and meaningful event at McCandless—the Memory Garden. Each spring, Kat collects donations for flowers, plants, potting soil and yard decorations. Then on one glorious day, the Columbine Courtyard is transformed into a beautiful, tranquil place when all those materials are put to good use for all to enjoy throughout the summer months.

Kat says she was first motivated to coordinate the effort to beautify the courtyard about five years ago after looking out the window on a snowy day, seeing a pile of bare dirt and thinking, “We can do better than this.”

The event has been known as Spring Fling, but last year, Kat wanted to help staff, residents and families deal with many losses by not only calling it a Memory Garden, but also gathering donated crosses and angels to display among the many flowers and plants as a way to pay tribute to all who were lost last year.

Kat is quick to give credit where credit is due for the various aspects of the event. She points out it wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of numerous staff members, community partners and residents and their families. She received many donations from residents’ families, staff members, community stores and volunteer organizations.

This year, Kat’s efforts will include branching out into another courtyard that will be a meditation garden. That effort will include improving the soil, planting a variety of bulbs and installing a drip system.


Q&A with Gabriela Luna, RN, Gilliam Youth Services Center

Gabriela LunaWhy did you go into nursing?
I decided to become a nurse after having a very kind nurse provide quality care to me when I had my first baby;  I wanted to be just like her. I will never forget her nursing skills, care, kindness, knowledge and how her qualities helped me through a stressful situation. 

What do you like most about your job at Gilliam?
My current job has been my most favorite nursing experience so far. The children’s personalities and honesty make this job an enjoyable one.  I feel a lot of sympathy towards these children, especially after they share the trauma that they’ve experienced. 
Do you have any interesting stories from your current job?
Each month we put a calendar in place with the national theme to be recognized, and organize activities/projects/education/competitions to be scheduled on specific dates. We received a statewide outstanding practice award for developing and teaching our health curriculum to our youth.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, walking, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, picnics, flying kites and any activity with my family. 


Karla Work, Nurse Family Partnership Home Visitor, Prowers County Public Health and Environment

Karla Work has been a nurse home visitor with Southeast Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) since 2001 and has served more than 158 families over the 16 years. Her supervisor calls her the  heart and soul of NFP in Southeast Colorado.“

Why Karla loves working with Nurse Family Partnership
For Karla, “this is not just a job, it is a joy.” and when asked about being a nurse home visitor, she mentions, “it is like it was made for me.” Karla says that the families she works with help her to be in the moment and to be truly present. She feels as though she gets something back whenever she goes to see her families. For Karla, one of the most important aspects of her role is to: “See the potential in people; you have to have the relationship to help them make the changes that they want to make. Even if you know what is best, you have to let your expectations go so that you are truly able to help them. You have to see that they can be what they really want to be.”

How Karla got into nursing
Karla graduated from Freeport Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1978 and was a registered nurse. Then she received her bachelor’s of science in nursing in 1998 from University of New Mexico and has been a nurse for 39 years. When she was in high school she knew she wanted to work in a profession where she was doing something positive, making an impact and to work in a helping profession.  

How does Karla inspire her NFP clients?
One former client of Karla’s was inspired by the work that Karla does with NFP and decided to go to nursing school to become a nurse as well. When the client graduated nursing school, she asked Karla to be at the ceremony to pin her in recognition of her becoming a RN. Karla’s work has a sustainable impact, inspiring the women she works with to pursue nursing careers.

Loretta Mestas, LPN, Veterans Community Living Center at Homelake

Loretta loves to help people, and wanted to be a nurse ever since she was a child.  Her mom said that Loretta was always wrapping people in bandages and giving pretend shots as a child.

Loretta says the best part of her job is serving the residents at Homelake. Many of the residents have no family or little contact with family, so Loretta is happy to fill that role.  She loves to be with residents in both good times and bad times.

Loretta shared a wonderful story of Anne, a resident who had lived at Homelake for many, many years.  Anne often told stories of her husband, who owned a restaurant and marina on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Anne often shared how her husband hated to use Saran Wrap because it always stuck together.  Anne was legally blind and had a wicked sense of humor and an unforgettable laugh.  One day, Loretta had a co-worker wrap her up in saran wrap like a Mummy and went up to Anne and asked to her touch her arm.  Anne started laughing as she realized that Loretta was wrapped up in saran wrap.  Then, when Loretta realized that the staff member who had wrapped her up had left the building, Loretta had to ask Anne to help cut her out of the wrapping.  Anne laughed the whole time she was helping Loretta out of her bindings.  

Loretta is getting ready to retire from Homelake in June, 2017.  She has worked at Homelake for almost 18 years.  She has been a nurse since 1982. Finally, Loretta loves to garden, cook items to bring in to share with her co-workers and spending time with her grandchildren.


Q&A with Robin Garcia, MDS Coordinator and Her Dog/Assistant, Roxy

Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons

How long have you worked at CDHS? How long have you been a nurse?

I have been with CDHS for 12 years and a nurse for 28 years.

What do you like best about your current job?

I like being involved with resident care day-to-day.  I know what I do improves the quality of care we provide at Fitzsimons and therefore improves the lives of our residents.

Why did you go into nursing?

As a little girl, I was fascinated by the nurses at my doctor’s office, and I wanted to be able to help people.  I chose nursing as my profession because I wanted to  make a difference in the lives of patients and families.

What do you do day-to-day? 

I review resident care provided and perform required Medicare/Medicaid and state assessments.  These assessments help measure the quality of care we provide, help guide us at Fitzsimons when care planning, and help us identify how we can improve care.

What is MDS?

The Minimum Data Set (MDS) is part of the U.S. federally mandated process for clinical assessment of all residents in Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing homes. This process provides a comprehensive assessment of each resident's functional capabilities and helps nursing home staff identify health problems.

What is an interesting story about your current job?

I am new to my MDS Coordinator role, but am proud to be part of a team that has been designated an Advanced Quality (QAPI) Nursing Center 2016 and has also received the 2016 Embracing Quality QAPI award.  I look forward to contributing to continued success in 2017.


Kay Volman, RN, Grand Junction Regional Center

Kay VolemanKay Voleman started in nursing 38 years ago with the goal to help people. She has worked at Grand Junction Regional Center for more than 11 years, primarily in patient care. 

Recently, she took a position in the main GJRC pharmacy. Day to day, Kay orders and verifies medications, interfaces with vendors, and is assisting in converting to a new electronic medication system.

Kay says she likes the challenges she faces every day in her new position in the pharmacy, and the people she works with. The previous pharmacy was closed last June and Kay has stepped up to learn her new position and continue with her resident- and customer-focused passion. 

Most importantly, Kay continues to stay involved with the GJRC residents she loves so much. Many times, the residents will pop in to see her at the pharmacy offices. While she misses direct resident care, she is able to see many residents during visits. Specifically, Kay was very pleased to have several residents visit her on Halloween, dressed in their costumes. 

When she’s not at work, Kay loves to play Words with Friends and participates in internet Scrabble games with people all over the United States. 

Audrey Payton, RN, Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle

Audrey Peyton was first interested in nursing as a young girl, because she knew she had the patience to be a nurse. Her favorite part of working at Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle is that everyone who works there is genuinely interested in getting the residents what they need. She knows she could not work at a place that did not put residents’ needs first. 

After working at VCLC Rifle for more than 12 years, her favorite part about her day-to-day job is knowing that when she is at work, she can help several residents every day. 

In her free time, Audrey competes in (and wins) fishing tournaments. She has participated in walleye tournaments in Utah and won cash the last two years. The fish get thrown back in the lake, and Audrey is proud to donate all her winnings to St. Judes for Children charity.      

Gordon Duvall, RN, Gilliam Youth Services Center

Gordon DuvallGordon is a registered nurse who works primarily out of Gilliam Youth Services Center, but helps out in all of the Division of Youth Corrections clinics in the Denver Metro area.

Day to day, he provides medical care to the residents of DYC by answering nurse requests, doing intake screenings, and performing other general clinic duties.  He will also suture and cast injuries, as appropriate. Gordon serves residents from a holistic health focus, meaning that he addresses the physical, mental, spiritual and environmental health of the residents while they’re at Gilliam, and he gives tools to use when they go back to their respective communities. 

Gordon is driven by a desire to help people. He initially entered medical school, and had an opportunity to compare medicine to nursing philosophies. “The medical philosophy is to cure once sick or injured,” he said. “In comparison, the nursing philosophy is to prevent you from getting sick or injured in the first place. For me, I want to prevent harm.”

Gordon says one of his favorite things about working at Gilliam is the ability to make a difference for future generations. He says his job allows him to help youth navigate the world, even after making bad choices, and every day is an adventure.

In his free time, Gordon rides a motorcycle and has belonged to a motorcycle club that serves the community for over 25 years.  He is also a licensed minister of the Word of Christ.