Kathy Wilson, RN, will be retiring on December 1, 2019 after a long career in the CVICU at NHRMC.
The CVICU team wanted to share Kathy’s story. Kathy has lived her life with one emerging theme. Never give up, and never let those around you fail.
Kathy was born in Lebanon, Indiana but spent most of her childhood in rural Missouri outside of Saint Louis. She enjoyed the outdoors including horseback riding, competing in barrel racing, and pole bending events.
The environment was important to her, so she participated in events to protect Indian bats in the state of Missouri. She originally wanted to be a Forest Ranger, but at the time they were not hiring women, so she chose nursing as her new path.
Kathy graduated nursing school in 1978, and in that same year she began her nursing career at Boone Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. Kathy moved to Wilmington in 1991, and began working at Cape Fear Hospital in that same year. In 1995 she was hired by New Hanover Regional Medical Center to work on nights in the CVICU, eventually transferring to days as a staff nurse. Over the years she has become known for her "never give up and never let those around you fail" attitude.
Three generations of CVICU nurses shared their experiences about working with Kathy.
Angela David said she met Kathy when she was 23 years old and a brand new nurse to CVICU. Angela said, "I was initially intimidated by her seemingly stern demeanor and take charge attitude, but I quickly learned that her strength and integrity were only outmatched by her compassion for her patients, and her dedication to the education of young nurses like me. I asked her endless questions, and called for help in many times of crisis, and she was always there; patient and willing to always reassure. She made me feel safe and empowered, and taught me much of what I know about being a good critical care nurse.”
Nora Henne had similar feelings towards Kathy and her leadership. Nora said, "She took me under her wing, let me cry when I needed to, told me to buck up when she was over it, and helped me with anything, no matter what these past 11 years, and not just when she had to. This is Kathy. She would do anything for anyone. We are lucky to call her a coworker, but even luckier to call her our friend.”
Brooke Gerace, our latest CVICU generation, had these warm words to say, "One of the best compliments I've ever received was when Kathy told me I was strong like her. She truly is one of the strongest women I have ever met, and one of the best nurses I've had the pleasure of working with. She has taught me so much.” As for me, Kathy has been the single most influential person in my time at CVICU. She goes above the technical and cutting edge side of what we do in CVICU. She can see fear in the eyes of a new nurse, and give them what they need to build confidence and become technically strong nurses as well as compassionate ones. She will wipe tears, but then send you back out to get the job done for the patient. She reminds you not to think about yourself but to think about the patient. She did this for me and I am indebted to her for giving me what I needed to call CVICU my home for so many years. She gave me grit and love as a nurse and a friend. She never gave up in her life, and she never let one of us fail."
When asked about her time as a nurse Kathy simply said, "I am proud to say I have been a bedside nurse my whole nursing career.”
In the years she has been with CVICU she has raised three children Jeremy, Courtney, and Zach. She has five grandchildren, Addie, Calvin, Bradley, Ronnie, and Roger. Kathy calls her oldest granddaughter, Addie, her best friend and all of her children and grandchildren the greatest gifts of her life.
Kathy will be missed at CVICU, but she has trained us to never give up, and never let any of our fellow nurses’ fail.