Working with the mentally ill has been a passion throughout Kim’s entire career, which began right out of college at a state psychiatric hospital in Northern Minnesota. The patients at the state hospital had been residents there for years and years, many with serious mental illnesses, and many who had become wards of the state. The level of illness was significant, and Kim was struck by the care and compassion shown by the staff to these patients. Staff tried to create a feeling of ‘home’ even though the facility was old and foreboding and for many, staff had become their ‘family’.
Moving from Minnesota to Wyoming, Kim continued working at a psychiatric hospital with patients of all ages. Watching patients’ family members struggle to understand the symptoms, diagnosis, and medications was heartbreaking. Her desire to make a difference in the hospital experience for patients and family members inspired her to go back to school for a Master’s degree. The additional education provided an opportunity to work in hospital administration, where decisions could be influenced and positive change made in care delivery and outcomes for those with mental illness. Kim led the effort to open an 11 bed Crisis Stabilization Unit adjacent to West Springs Hospital in 2014 offering another level of care to meet growing need. As administrative head of the only psychiatric hospital between Denver and Salt Lake City, Kim understands the unique needs of rural mental health care. She lives the mission of making a difference for those in need of mental health care and treatment.