“Recognized for her 35-plus years of helping her community, March of Dimes honors Katherine Galliger as the 2013 Rural Health Nurse of the Year,” a spokesperson for the March of Dimes said at the awards ceremony held in the Twin Cities late last month. “Galliger, a nurse at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, was honored for the leadership and guidance she gives to young nurses and for being a key figure in the areas of medication safety and fall prevention.”
“Kathy is respected by the physicians and nursing staff she works with,” Chief Nursing Officer Kristine Layne said in the letter nominating Galliger. “Patients often comment on the kind and personal care she gives. And the staff have a saying when they are facing a tough situation, ‘What would Kathy Galliger do?’ ”
Galliger is the night shift nursing supervisor. She has been working the night shift for most of her years at the hospital. She is a lifelong resident of Aitkin, graduating from Aitkin High School in 1966. She and her husband, Bill, live on the family homestead in Farm Island Twp. where they still have eight horses. She was out of the area for only eight years – attending college and working in the metro area where she also met her husband.
Galliger was active in Girl Scouts and 4-H growing up. She served as Farm Island Township treasurer for 14 years and was an Aitkin County Commissioner for eight years, all while working the night shift at the hospital. Now, besides overseeing the night shift, she also oversees day-to-day operations at Lakeview Cemetery.
Galliger said she was very surprised when her name was announced as one of the award winners during ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.
“It was just like the Academy Awards,” she said, explaining as the speaker started talking about the winner of her category, she began to realize she was the one they were talking about. “I was very surprised and honored.”
More than 400 nurses from across the state were nominated and Galliger was one of 15 to receive the award in an equal number of categories. This was the fourth annual event and it raised more than $150,000 for the March of Dimes.
“Nurse of the Year winners all display great leadership skills and have made significant contributions to their community and the profession of nursing,” said a spokesperson for the organization.
Areas of excellence
Galliger said being the night supervisor gives her a lot of opportunity to mentor young nurses.
“When I retire in a few years, I’ll be in a position to be the one receiving care and I want them to know what they need to know to do a good job of providing that care,” she said.
Her mentoring figured into her award as did her work on safety committees.
“We’ve made excellent progress in medication safety and in decreasing the incidence of falls. Medication errors have decreased every year since the committee was formed and best practice policies and procedures were instituted. The incidence of errors fell by 50 percent again this year,” Galliger said.
The committee that works to reduce the incidence of falls was formed in 2005.
“We had 26 inpatient falls the year it began. We had four in the most recent year with no injuries. That’s a huge improvement.”
Galliger guides the committee and keeps the statistics but, she said, it takes team to make improvements that improve care and impress an awards committee. Take preventing falls, for instance.
“It takes everyone from cooks in the kitchen to the doctors in the recovery room. They all contributed to the improvement in statistics and to my award. I couldn’t do it without everyone’s help. Every person who works at Riverwood, more than 400 of them, is responsible for me getting this award,” she concluded.