Not only is Roberts being awarded the Colorado Nurses Foundation’s Luminary Award on March 29 in Durango, she plans, after 18 years, to retire from her post sometime this year.
“I was really surprised when I found out about the award,” Roberts said on Monday. “I said, ‘Oh, it must be time to retire when you start getting awards.’”
While only half-joking, Roberts, who recently married, said she plans to leave “within the next year” to move to Durango full-time with her husband. After working for more than 18 years in public health, Roberts plans to take some time off, go on a honeymoon and then work for a hospice organization at some point.
During her tenure, Roberts has been dedicated to a number of public health initiatives in Ouray County. For three years before she became director of public health, she worked on a home health program in Ouray. During that time, Roberts nominated the previous director, Francie Tisdel, for the Nightingale Program’s Luminary Award just before she retired. Now, 17 years later, it was Roberts’ turn to be nominated by a fellow employee. This time, pediatric nurse Charlotte Peterson did the nominating.
“It’s fascinating,” Roberts said. “I nominated her for the award and she received it 17 years ago and now, here I am, receiving the award. I think its fairly unusual for this to happen.”
The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Human Caring was created to honor nurses who exemplify the practice and philosophy of Florence Nightingale. Registered nurses throughout Colorado are nominated in the fall each year. Luminary Awards are given out at regional ceremonies; the statewide Nightingale Awards will be presented on May 19. All Luminary award winners are eligible for the Nightingale Award. Luminaries are selected by regions, and forwarded to the State Selection Committee, which determines the six Nightingale recipients.
As a Luminary Award winner and, possibly, a Nightingale Award winner, Roberts said her recognition is due to the hard work of her staff.
“The reason why I look so good in my job is my staff. They make me look good,” she said. “That is the awesome part of this story. With a barebones staff, we get a lot done.”
Since she began working in the Health Department, Roberts said, a few programs (such as the immunization, homemaker and WIC programs) have remained constant and valuable for the community. New programs have also been added, including those that address communicable diseases, environmental issues such as radon and water quality, and disaster response.
“We have been ahead of the curve in terms of deciding what public health should be providing its residents,” Roberts said. “We have tried to get larger with a lot less money, and you can only do that collaboratively. We work collectively as a six-county region, and we very much honor our regional status and regional identity.”
Before she retires, Roberts aims to complete the county’s public health improvement plan. She also intends to work with the Ouray Board of County Commissioners on how to complete the plan’s goals, and discuss what issues Public Health should tackle over the next five years.
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