Aside from a two-month hiatus to work in Las Vegas, Linnea Reece has called Moffat County and Memorial Regional Health home for the past 45 years.
Born and raised in Dickinson, N.D., Reece moved to Moffat County some 45 years ago to follow her family after graduation from high school. While family has come and gone from the Yampa Valley, Reece has remained in the northwest corner of Colorado ever since, helping nurse people back to good health.
That break in Vegas reiterated just how much she loved Moffat County.
“I did some travel work where I’d head into Wyoming on the weekends as a traveling nurse, but nothing where I really left,” Reece said. “And then, I worked for 5 years here and thought I should do something else, so I did leave for two months and went to Las Vegas.
“I went down there for a little bit and got home sick,” Reece said, laughing. “So I came back to the same job, same pay as the day supervisor, and I’ve been here ever since. I just love this place; it’s my home.”
If you’ve had to spend some time at the hospital on the hill, chances are you’ve had Reece nursing you back to health. For Reece, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nursing has been a passion of hers dating back to her childhood, which has led to a long, fulfilling career serving the Moffat County community.
“I’ve been a nurse all of my life, even when I was a kid I would take care of the dogs, other kids…I’ve always been a nurse,” Reece said. “I had a doctors pack with a syringe and a stethascope when I was kid; it’s just always been part of my life.”
The joy that comes with seeing people happy and healthy really drew in Reece at a young age, sending her down a path that became her life’s work.
“I just always liked taking care of things,” Reece said. “Animals, people….if anyone was sick at home I’d get them ice packs and water. That passion didn’t come from anyone but me.
“It’s seeing people progress and getting better,” Reece added. “A lot of times, people aren’t smiling because it’s tough here and they lose control…Getting them better and getting them back home though, they’re very appreciative. I just want to go take care of people so that they can get better and go home to their family.”
Through 45 years as a nurse, rules of practice and procedure change with time, which has kept Reece on her toes. In years past, Reece would be tasked with lugging around a paper chart for each patient. Now, technology has made things easier for Reece and her fellow nurses.
Changes with the building and the structure of MRH have occurred over the years as well. Reece has had a front row seat to all of it.
“Oh, some of the changes have been wonderful,” Reece said. “I’ve watched this place grow from the small little hospital we had grow into what it is now. It was a big building to us at the time, but now this is just wonderful.”
Reece added that she and Marie Kettle, two long-time employees of MRH, had the chance to accept patients into the new building once it was complete.
“Thinking about that just brings tears to my eyes,” Reece said.
While MRH has had a tough go of things in recent years, the long-time nurse says she’s beyond proud to call MRH home and serve the community the only way she knows how.
“This place his home for me. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” Reece said. “I’ve been treated so well here and made so many friends and memories. …I just love being a nurse and working and living here.”