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An inspired nursing journey

By Lynn Zahorik; photos courtesy of the Gallegos family

Photo of Kathy Gallegos graduating from Grand Canyon University

Kathy Gallegos graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in October 2018.

As a critical care nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Sky Ridge Medical Center (SRMC), Kathy Gallegos’ days are long. Not merely because of the 12 hour shifts she works, but also because of the magnitude and number of events Gallegos encounters each day as a healthcare worker. ICU nurses care for the sickest patients, many with life threatening conditions. During this time of social distancing, they are also responsible for providing the services normally performed by family members. The nurses hold their patients’ hands, relay poignant family messages and photographs, and send smiles of encouragement through their eyes.

Gallegos is proud of her SRMC team. “We have some of the best nurses and doctors in the area working in the ICU at Sky Ridge. We take care of each other like a family, mentally and physically helping each other day in and day out,” said Gallegos. She cherishes her chosen profession and is committed to providing the most compassionate and personal care to the sick and helpless. She often marvels at her life’s journey and the path that led her to nursing.

Photo of Kathy Gallegos and fellow nurse Kristan Dye.

Kathy Gallegos (right) and fellow nurse Kristan Dye (left) have spent hundreds of hours decked out in gowns, masks, face shields and gloves while taking care of patients in the ICU at Sky Ridge Medical Center.

Born and raised in Moorhead, Minnesota, Gallegos moved to Colorado in 1996 where she met her husband, Randy. They married and spent their first 20 years in Highlands Ranch before moving to Castle Pines in 2016. They have three children, Easton (18), Kyrie (15) and Hope (11) and a rescue dog named Ripley.

Though always intrigued by the field of healthcare, Gallegos became sincerely interested in nursing when her youngest daughter, Hope, was born with a heart defect that required open heart surgery at 8 weeks old. The wonderful nurses who cared for Hope inspired Gallegos to give back by becoming a nurse. With the dedicated support of her family and the guidance of the SRMC community, she set out to achieve her goal.

Gallegos started out as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) on the oncology floor. After nine months, she decided it was too sad and she moved to the ICU. She worked as a nurse’s aide in the ICU for five years, while simultaneously attending nursing school at Arapahoe Community College to earn her Associate of Science in Nursing. She continued on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Grand Canyon University, and now she contemplates going back for a master’s degree. “I find nursing so rewarding,” said Gallegos. “I love seeing my patients get better when they are at their worst in the ICU. I have run into past patients while I was at the grocery store, and it brings tears to my eyes to see them living their life after spending time with us.”

After her challenging days of work, Gallegos is always grateful to return home to her family. They gather every night for family dinners, which lately have included themes of pajama night, tacky tourist or formal wear to spice up the routine. They hope to celebrate life this summer in their usual manner with a trip to Minnesota to visit family.



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