MISSOULA — KPAX/KAJ and Whitefish Credit Union continue to highlight unsung heroes in Montana. Each week we'll spotlight someone who made a difference in our communities and also award them VIP tickets to this summer's Under the Big Sky Festival in Whitefish. If you know someone you think we should profile, nominate them here..
You can't talk "unsung heroes" without mentioning the frontline workers who have stepped up to ensure our communities survive COVID-19.
Despite being in a vulnerable population herself, Kim Laasch -- a nurse at Community Medical Center in Missoula -- powered through the pandemic, working overtime to get her patients back on their feet.
Although she denies deserving recognition, her son has nominated her as this week's Unsung Hero -- whether at home or at the hospital, he says his mom gives her all.
Even as life returns to some sense of normalcy, frontline workers continue working tirelessly to pull our communities out of a dark place.
According to her son, she is a testament to the dedication of our healthcare workers. Perhaps it’s her background that’s given Kim Laasch so much resiliency.
“She's from a family of boys, she's currently got a family of boys, she's got five grandchildren that are all boys, and without my mom, I think everything would kind of fall apart,” said Alex Laasch, nominating his mom as this week’s unsung hero.
Kim could win the title of “unsung hero” simply for dealing with all of those boys, but it’s her dedication to 35 years of nursing that really calls for some recognition.
“She typically works in the rehab department at Community Medical Center in Missoula,” said her son Alex. “Because of the large volume of infected patients the hospital was receiving, they decided to convert her wing into a COVID treatment department, essentially, so she was working with infected patients almost 24/7.”
Most of the world took a timeout in the thick of the pandemic, retreating to their homes and staying safe in their bubbles, but in Kim’s corner, the battle with COVID-19 raged on.
“A lot of hours, a lot of overtime, all the staff would be out to isolate, and so it was a long year,” recalled Kim.
Luckily, Kim knows a thing or two about sticking it out when times are tough. After all, she’s a cancer survivor.
“We had our concerns, of course, because of her history with cancer, that perhaps maybe she had a vulnerable immune system,” said Alex. “Despite our concerns, she rose to the occasion.”
“You, of course, have to dress up a lot more going into a COVID room. It's very very loud in there with the negative pressure. Nobody can go in there, nobody can come, you know, the family can't go in,” said Kim, describing some of the challenges of working during the pandemic.
In the last year, she accepted extra shifts, often working overtime to pull her weight on a team of frontline workers -- A grueling job, but one that Kim couldn’t imagine stepping away from.
“I was exposed a couple times to patients that came in negative, and ended up being positive once in here,” said Kim
If it weren’t for nurses like Kim Laasch, Missoula County’s COVID-19 story might have a very different ending.
Whether she believes it or not -- her family, her team, and the patients she cares for know that she’s an unsung hero.
“There's just so many more people that are so deserving of it, that have worked really hard through this... the hospitalists, the doctors, the respiratory team, housekeeping, CNAs. It's a big group, not just me.”
Kim couldn’t give enough praise for the enitre staff at Community Medical Center -- emphasizing that without a team effort, our COVID situation would look quite different.
Click here if you would like to nominate an unsung hero who has made a difference in your community.