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FHW Women, Part 3

Woven through the many conversations with Family Health West women in preparation for Women’s History Month, emerged the resiliency of staff, the passion for caring for each other and patients, and the deep roots of building history together. As you’ll read, FHW has been a place where girls grew into women, remained faithful through raising kids and adult trials and challenges, remaining steady until retirement comes knocking.

Kayren Goss began her Family Health West career as a CNA in the mid-seventies when Elton John and the Bee Gees were streaming through car radios. By 1978 she was a Registered Nurse (RN) following in the footsteps of her mother who was a nurse at Family Health West for 40 years of her own respected career. In Kayren’s early days, she worked in the Lower Valley Hospital which is the little brick building on the corner of Plum Street and Pabor Avenue. For a few years, they were delivering babies and doing surgeries before the hospital transitioned away from that and more into elder care.

“In 1979, the nursing home was built and the rest is history,” Kayren said. “From the first elder patient I cared for I knew that they were what I wanted to take care of for the rest of my career.”

Kayren Goss, RN, holding a photo of her mother who was also a longtime RN for FHW. Her mother inspired her to become a nurse.

She was a floor nurse and on the Nursing Management Team in the FHW nursing home for many years. In the early 2000s, Kayren said she got the chance to move over to the Willows assisted living facility where she continued as a floor nurse and then the administrator for 10 years. Kayren didn’t hang up her stethoscope though and when she had the chance to hand off the administrative duties she returned to nursing where she remains today.

Her connections to FHW began at birth, where she was born in what at that time was called the Fruita Community Hospital. At this point, retirement is something she thinks about on occasion, but for now, she plans to stay even if part-time.

“I did not know that I would still be here 46 years later,” she said. “I guess I am one of the lucky ones to still be here. My mother was my inspiration to become a nurse. She told me that no matter what technology would be invented there would always be a need for the hands-on care that nurses can only give.”

She said one of the things she most appreciates about working at FHW is that leadership treats you like a person. She admits to making mistakes on occasion but leadership has stood with her and looking back, all of those experiences made her a better nurse and a better person for it.

Besides spending time with her family, Kayren also is a member of the Fruita Lions Club and a volunteer at the Fruita Thrift Shop, also serving as their Treasurer since 2014.

Julie Kovach was born in the Fruita Hospital – an area now occupied by Human Resources and the Finance Department. She started her first job in 1989 with FHW, and now has no doubt she will (someday) retire from it. Reagan was still President when Julie was a Fruita Monument High School student living in Mack, who first was a dietary aide. She was taking a course in school that gave credit for employment – a business class.

“Kay Garcia interviewed me,” Julie said. “In my class, we were told to wear a dress and I was a tomboy.”

Julie Kovach was born at the Family Health West hospital about 16 years before she started working for FHW.

As Julie recalls the details, Kay later told her she didn’t think she’d stick with the job because she was too prissy. That was more than 30 years ago. At that time, Julie said, the community knows about Family Health West, we’ve been around forever (since 1946). At one point, people just thought we were nursing homes but we’ve become more visible and more community-oriented, she said.

A staple in the halls of FHW is Errol Snider. A FHW historian, friend, mentor, ombudsman, liaison, and many more titles are attributed to Errol. Julie gives a nod to Errol for his welcoming presence from her earliest days at FHW. He knew her before she ever knew him, she says. Errol officiated the marriage of her aunt and uncle, as well as her grandfather’s funeral – all before Julie was born. One day in her early years with FHW she got to talking to Errol and he knew all about her family. The connections run deeper now thirty years later, and Errol’s role within FHW has changed a few times. But the human connection remains strong and the historical knowledge is deep, including Julie’s experiences now.
Julie credits female leadership at varying levels at Family Health West – they’ve been the best mentors. Eventually, Julie obtained an associate’s degree and became a certified Dietary Manager.

“Eventually I might retire,” she recently said.

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