Nurses back from retirement to help La Crosse community

Mayo Clinic Health System nurses answer call to improve staffing as vaccines go out to people
Retired Nurses

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Staff is needed to get people the vaccine in the La Crosse community. A group of nurses is answering the call and they’ve been away from the healthcare setting for a while. Medical experts are still wrapping their minds around where we are in the pandemic response process.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing and a miracle,” Jan Hutchens said, a nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Vaccination is now routine at Mayo Clinic Health System.

“We’re gonna vaccinate over 500 people today,” LuAnne Kratts said, a nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Nurses like Kratt of 20 years experience and Hutchens of 40 years experience, help people leave with COVID-19 protection.

“I want to help with this,” Hutchens said.

Kratt and Hutchens are retired and accepted an invitation back.

“I am, and I’m happy to be back,” Kratt said.

LuAnne understands the shoes of patients.

“Low and behold with that annual mammogram screening I found out I had breast cancer,” Kratt said.

This is only half of her story.

“About 10 years later low and behold I find out I have an abdominal tumor,” she said.

Her battle formed a new foundation of empathy she applies to her craft today.

“It’s helped me be what I like to think is an understanding nurse, a caring nurse,” Kratt said.

She is used to stepping up. Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? She traveled to New Orleans to help people whose lives were changed forever. Her trip is evidence of her desire to serve people.

“It’s just such an honor to be doing what we’re doing,” she said.

Her passion remains strong.

“Nobody wants to see a grumpy old nurse,” Kratt said. “They want to see somebody with a positive outlook.”

A vaccine quota is not her goal, she wants to meet the people who come in to turn the corner of this pandemic.

“And that the people don’t feel like they’re just being put through a factory line,” she said. “That they feel that we’ve taken the time to get to know them and care about them.”

Hutchens said the people they meet are grateful for the opportunity to receive the vaccine.

“The majority of people are so thankful to be here,” Hutchens said.

These nurses delivered at a moment’s notice, the measure of life in medicine.

“I’m very thankful every day that I’m healthy,” Kratt said.

This is a life these ladies are proud to offer.

“I could help make a difference,” Kratt said.

Their service allows nurses in the COVID-19 units to continue their important work. Several other nurses joined in recent weeks solving staff issues in La Crosse’s health care system.