Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Kim White, the Director of Emergency Services and COVID-19 Incident Commander at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. Kim was one of the many healthcare professionals who stepped up during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic to help the community stay as safe as possible.
Kim was born in Rock Springs and now lives in Green River, and she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Wyoming is her home. She loves the community and the people who make it such a welcoming place. In her own words, “there is no better place than Wyoming. The people and the land is unmatched.”
Kim, what do you do at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County?
I am the Director of Emergency Services and COVID-19 Incident Commander. I have been a nurse for over 18 years and I have always loved the Emergency Department and the type of patient care and nursing that is done there. We get to take care of all different types of medical and traumatic needs, as well as be able to take care of people in all different ages. As for incident command, at my last facility I was the administrator overseeing emergency management and was able to attend a number of trainings that FEMA offers. I grew to love emergency management and the planning that goes in to preventing and handling emergency situations. I do have to admit that I don’t think anyone in emergency management could have predicted the amount of time and work that would be required during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
What has your experience as the COVID-19 incident commander been like?
Being the COVID-19 incident commander has been a roller coaster to say the least, as this was a new virus and the initial effects that it was having in other countries was quite terrifying. Thankfully, MHSC has a fantastic incident command team that was established early so that we could be as prepared as possible to take care of patients. One of the biggest concerns during this time, was PPE and being able to protect our staff so that they could continue to take care of patients. In the beginning of the pandemic and lasting for several months, we were not able to get our usual PPE, orders would be cancelled due to lack of supplies or the supplies were diverted to places with larger populations of patients who were suffering from COVID-19. We had to think out of the box and fortunately were able to protect our staff.
One of the hardest parts of the COVID-19 Pandemic is watching patients and their families suffer when the illness was severe. Patients would be ok one minute, and then on the brink of death the next, and I know it was very hard on the frontline staff as they did everything that they could to help these patients and their families. Another very difficult part is that we take great pride in reporting accurate COVID-19 statistics, but no matter how accurate our report is, people call us liars and fear-mongers.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with people, both patients and staff. There is nothing better than being able to help people achieve better health and helping our staff to learn and grow.
How did you end up in Green River?
I was born in Rock Springs and grew up in Green River. I did leave the area for 15 years and then returned home in 2014.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I love the friendliness of the people. Being able to walk down the street and down the aisle at the store and get a friendly smile or hello is one of the best things.
What are some of your hobbies?
Some of my hobbies include playing sports, especially volleyball, grilling and attempting to garden.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
One piece of advice that I would give is to not let things that are out of your control bring you down.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
My favorite place in Sweetwater County is any Green River High School athletic event. Having five kids that are very active in sports, this is where I have spent a great deal of time over the last seven years, and I love every minute of it.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about yourself?
I had to reach out to my kids on this one and they said the best person that could play me is Jane Kaczmarek who plays the mom in Malcolm in the Middle. They claim that this character is very much like me, I don’t know if that is good or bad.
What would you sing at karaoke?
I would sing almost any ABBA song.
How would your friends describe you?
This is a hard one. They would probably say that I am fun, witty and have a sarcastic personality.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
My proudest accomplishment are most definitely my kids. I have been a single mom for many years and they truly have been the easiest kids to raise, they are self-motivated, smart and just great kids.
What is something unique about you?
One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I had an art scholarship for pottery. I love to make all kinds of pottery and I am fascinated by the skill of other potters.
Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?
After living in other states, there is no better place than Wyoming. The people and the land is unmatched.