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Sally KimbrellSally Kimbrell, BSN

Sally was in high school when two close relatives were diagnosed with cancer. Only one survived, an event that inspired her to choose nursing as a career.

“I remember going into the hospital and watching all the things going on there,” she said. “I was fascinated by all of it.”

Originally from the Sacramento area, Kimbrell’s first job was at Sutter Memorial Hospital on the oncology units and IV therapy team. From there, years later, she went on to do home infusion therapy.

“Oncology patients are hard to get IVs placed,” she said. “And for whatever reason, some people have a knack for it, and some people don't. I have that knack and so nurses on the floor would ask me to go start IVs for them, and I liked to do that.”

Kimbrell eventually moved from infusion to working for an office-based surgery center, and several years later, her son moved to Gardnerville with her grandkids.

“I would come up and visit them and my son would tell me to go talk to the folks at CVH,” she said. “I went for an interview and got to meet two really nice people and we had a lot of fun chatting. At the end of the interview, the director at the time said, I just have to cut to the chase, I'm going to offer you a position and I want you to come to work here.”

She took the position as a med/surg nurse, loved the job, and fell in love with Carson Valley. It took Kimbrell’s husband a couple of years to retire, so she would work for a week, and travel back to California for a week at a time until they could relocate to Minden.

“I just was impressed with the people that I met,” she said. “I would walk into Walmart with my grandkids and people will just stop and talk to you.”

Kimbrell said that same small-town hospitality is a huge plus for healthcare at Carson Valley Health.

“Because we're such a small town, and we don't have the volume of patients coming through the door as in a large city, the doctors do have time to spend with the patients,” she said. “They go in and they sit down with the patients and have conversations with them, get things down to plain language and address all the issues that the patients come in with, the best that they can. Whereas in the bigger hospitals, the doctors don't seem to sit down very often and are moving pretty quickly. It’s a more personal experience here.”

California is currently the only state that mandates a nurse-to-patient ratio of one nurse to five patients, Kimbrell said, and working for a rural Critical Access Hospital like CVH is comforting as it is one of the only hospitals in the region that also meets this strict standard.

“When you’re taking care of five sick patients, it’s a lot of stress,” she said. “You can be a nurse at one of the bigger hospitals and you can be taking care of six or seven or eight patients. It would be hard to live with the thought that someone had a bad outcome because you couldn’t get to them. I never want to get put in that position, and at CVH we have great nurse-to-patient ratios.”

Kimbrell is now working in Case Management, and she said the same benefits of a small hospital apply to case management.

“When a patient comes to the hospital, we start working on what happens when they get well enough to go home,” she said.

“Each patient comes with things that might be barriers for them to be able to go home, so we look at every patient and see how they're doing, are they progressing towards enough goals to be a safe discharge? Or is there something we need to do to intervene?”

In a larger hospital, Kimbrell said, you might never see a case manager unless a doctor has ordered it.

“At our hospital, we meet with every patient that comes in, except in the rare case we’re not there,” she said. “It’s really important in a community like ours to help families make those decisions.”

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