Gerlich named Liberty-Dayton RMC Employee of the Year

Kristine Gerlich is the Employee of the Year for Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center. She is the hospital's assistant chief nursing officer and has worked there since 2017.

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center has named Kristin Gerlich as the 2020 Employee of the Year. Gerlich, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, received the highest number of votes from her hospital peers to earn the honor.

Gerlich has been a nurse at Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center since 2017, first starting as an RN on the medical-surgical unit. She quickly earned a promotion to RN charge nurse and now serves as the assistant CNO alongside Chief Nursing Officer Sara Armstrong. Previously, Gerlich was a pediatric private duty nurse working with ventilated patients.

A resident of Crosby, Gerlich earned her associates degree in nursing from Lee College and recently completed the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offered by Aspen University while holding her full-time position at the hospital.

Being named Employee of the Year is humbling for Gerlich, who shuns the spotlight, but she says that having the trust and support of her colleagues means the world to her.

“It was my birthday week when I found out. That same week I had received a call from Sara asking me to be her assistant and then I was notified that I was Employee of the Year. It was so unexpected,” said Gerlich, adding that she hadn’t even voted for herself.

As the award recipient, she earns bragging rights for the year and a small bonus from the hospital, but for Gerlich, having the respect of her peers is the best reward.

“Our nurses depend a lot on us,” said Armstrong. “Because of Kristine’s knowledge and the extra effort that she puts in to learn more, they trust her and know she will be able to help them when it’s needed.”

Recently, Gerlich and fellow nurse Sandy Smith completed Texas A&M University’s training to become certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). They are now working to implement a sexual assault program to help victims of domestic abuse, rape and human trafficking in Liberty County. It will be the first time that Liberty-Dayton RMC has had its own SANE program.

According to Gerlich, adult sexual assault victims, already traumatized from the attacks on them, are having to travel from Liberty County to Beaumont or other neighboring cities to be seen by a SANE nurse.

“A lot of adults will go without getting the forensic exam because of that, which means that rapes may go unreported,” she said.

Gerlich and Smith’s certifications are for adolescent and adult sexual assault victims, but Gerlich is working to complete the program to help pediatric sexual assault victims, too.

“We also have three more nurses going through the SANE program – Karen Legros, Cindy Palmer and Jessica Elliott,” Gerlich said.

Chasing after grant funding is another goal for Gerlich, who is currently enrolled in an online grant-writing program from Texas A&M University.

“I have written a lot of papers before but never a grant. The equipment we need for a SANE program is expensive. You can do it without pictures but pictures say a thousand words. Just the camera we need is $13,000. That’s where Partners in Practice with Texas A&M comes into play,” she said.

Gerlich believes that local residents often underestimate the skill levels of Liberty-Dayton RMC doctors and nurses.

Armstrong agrees, adding, “We have seen people come in here on death’s door and they are doing well now. We do make a difference here.”

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