Local Earns Honor

ST. MARYS — For Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Cardiac Center RN Kristi Koch, Grand Lake Health System is a perfect match, as the two hold similar values.

“I truly love being a part of an organization that leads by example,” Koch said. “I think it helps when they embody the same values that I do, and I think it’s what our patients and our visitors expect.”

Koch, who has been with the Grand Lake Health System for 20 years, was nominated by the organization for the Ohio Hospital Association’s (OHA) Albert E. Dyckes Health Care Worker of the year Award. The award, given annually since 1996, is awarded to an Ohio hospital employee “who is an outstanding health care worker.”

“Nominees should be great leaders, individuals who reflect the values and ideals of Ohio’s health care facilities, extraordinary caregivers who go above and beyond the call of duty, individuals who give back to the community and individuals who have overcome odds to succeed,” the OHA’s description of the award reads.

Shocked and humbled by her nomination, Koch said the positive experiences and outcomes patients receive at Grand Lake Health System are possible through the work of everyone involved.

“It takes the entire organization to have those experiences and outcomes,” Koch said. “I just believe that I’m a small part of representing all those efforts of the entire Grand Lake Health System. I can’t do what I do best unless I have the support of all my coworkers and the entire organization, all the way up through leadership and management.”

With experience in both inpatient and outpatient care at Grand Lake Health System, Koch said she is able to provide her patients with quality care — something she identified as a reason for continuing to work at the organization.

“I feel like I am able to treat my patients as an individual to gain that trust and show that compassion — that’s why I became a nurse — for who they are, and then recognize that they get thrown into a situation that is totally changing their lives, and I am supportive no matter what,” she said. “They might be in a situation where a cure might not be possible, but as a nurse in the Grand Lake Health System, I am able to provide that healing and that compassion that they deserve and that sense of wellness — no matter what the outcome is.”

Koch currently works with patients to change their lifestyle and manage their disease. She noted that she is able to provide a patient-centered, holistic type of care.

“In my position, going from the inpatient to outpatient arena, I’m looking at those long-term changes,” she said. “My passion now is getting with the patients and assisting them in managing their disease and gaining that sense of control and having those lifestyle changes and risk factor modifications.”

Seeing patients succeed in the changes, she said, is rewarding.

“Right now, that’s my primary focus — that disease management and seeing these patients make successful changes, when they truly come in hopeless and they think there’s nothing they can do about it,” Koch said. “It’s just so exciting to see when they get a handle of the disease process and they know what they’re doing and they have that sense of empowerment. That’s the most rewarding part of it for me right now — seeing those patients have that empowerment.”

In addition to working in the Cardiac Center, Koch has also been involved in speaking engagements — including a talk about cardiac health for Grand Health Challenge and Grand Health Family Challenge participants — the Grand Lake Healthy Hearts support group, local health fairs and health screenings, among other community activities.

Koch noted that she has enjoyed seeing her career come full circle at Grand Lake Health System.

“I feel like in my 20 years, I’ve come full circle,” she said. “I’ve seen the impact at the bedside and then the long-term effect that, as health care professionals, we make.”

On June 12, Koch will travel to Columbus for the 2012 OHA Recognition Dinner, where the ultimate recipient of the Albert E. Dyckes Health Care Worker of the Year Award will be selected.