Pair of Waukon High School graduates honored by NICC with induction into school’s Hall of Fame

Kathy Moritz ...

Trish Shelton ...

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) celebrated its outstanding alumni and retirees for their leadership and service in two Hall of Fame ceremonies held Tuesday, November 12 at the Calmar campus and Monday, November 18 at the Peosta campus. The three Calmar campus alumni inductees included a pair of Waukon High School graduates, Kathy (Berns) Moritz of Lansing and Trish (Regan) Shelton of Waukon.

Printed below are their biographical stories shared by NICC as part of their Hall of Fame recognition:

Hard work, dedication and devotion to family defined Kathy Moritz while growing up as one of 11 siblings on a 600-acre farm in rural Harpers Ferry. A 1988 Waukon High School graduate, Moritz became fascinated with science and the human body, and knew early on that caring for patients was her true calling.

She joined the Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in 1991. Kathy’s knowledge, expertise and management skill accelerated her leadership career, ultimately to her current position of chief nursing officer at Winneshiek Medical Center in 2017. She leads and manages all nursing departments at the hospital, including policies, programs and services for nursing.

Through her service in healthcare, Moritz leads with humility, and emphasizes education and empowerment among her team, hospital staff, patients, families and the community.

“I grew up on my parents’ 600-acre farm, where we planted corn and beans, had dairy cows and hogs. It was quite an operation. And with 10 other siblings, I was always helping; learning to give of myself and help others. It was a lifelong lesson,” Moritz recalled.

To celebrate and recognize her decades of service to healthcare and leadership in the community, Northeast Iowa Community College will induct the 1990 Associate Degree of Nursing graduate into the College’s Hall of Fame Tuesday, November 12.

After earning her nursing degree at the College, Moritz worked in the acute care and obstetrics units at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon. She worked for Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare from 1991-2017, and grew steadily through positions in medical, cardiac and oncology nursing roles, to supervisory and administrative positions of leadership. She continued her education to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2004) and a Master of Science in Nursing with an emphasis in education (2007), both from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, WI.

In 2013, the Mayo Clinic Health System promoted Moritz to nurse administration surgical services, where she oversaw nearly all of the hospital’s surgical services. In this capacity, she managed 14 departments with eight direct reports and responsibility for more than 200 nurses.

“The transition from direct patient care as a nurse to an administrative role, to me, requires an ability to be flexible and lead with humility. I’ve always told my teams, ‘You are just as important as me.’ I have to make difficult decisions. Yet, I have learned to have an optimistic outlook and be an effective communicator,” Moritz explained.

Moritz has served her community as a Lansing Fish days volunteer for 17 years, a RAGBRAI volunteer and is active in her parish and its choir, Immaculate Conception Church in Lansing.

Northeast Iowa Community College, and the short drive to the Calmar campus, offered opportunities for Moritz that might not have been possible for a recent high school graduate in a rural area, she recalled.

“If Northeast Iowa Community College was not available and close by, especially in the late 1980s and the downturn of the farming economy, I would not have had an opportunity to go to college. I can tell you as a front line nurse that when I see nursing graduates from community colleges, who are not from a four-year college, they stand out, are trained and ready to do the work,” Moritz expressed.

Kathy and her husband, Dave, have two daughters, Allison and Arin, who work as registered nurses for the Mayo Clinic Health System in LaCrosse, WI.

A lifelong native of Waukon, Trish Shelton envisioned a career in healthcare from the beginning. After high school she explored health information technology education, yet refocused her energies on nursing - the profession that offered opportunities every day to make a difference in people’s lives.

Her education through Northeast Iowa Community College established her career, beginning as a charge nurse for Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Waukon and, in 2000, joining the staff of Veterans Memorial Hospital. The rural hospital setting required its nurses to develop expertise in multiple departments, and Shelton worked in emergency nursing, obstetrics and medical-surgical capacities.

“At a young age, I always knew I wanted a career in healthcare. I wanted to do something that really made a difference in people’s lives,” she expressed. “I enrolled in Northeast Iowa Community College’s nursing program, earned my Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) and worked in long term care. I had grown up working on my family’s dairy farm in Waukon; it was quite a change, going from working with animals to caring for patients.”

To celebrate and recognize her decades of service to healthcare, patients, their families and the community, Northeast Iowa Community College inducted the 1997 Associate Degree of Nursing graduate into the College’s Hall of Fame Tuesday, November12.

Veterans Memorial Hospital promoted Shelton to nurse manager in 2016 to continue the hospital’s commitment to quality, outcomes and dedicated patient care.

“In rural hospitals such as Veterans Memorial Hospital, nurses and staff wear many hats. Although I am in a nurse manager position, I still have responsibilities for direct patient care and contact with their families and our staff - having that contact is very important to me,” Shelton said.

During her nursing career, Shelton’s role expanded to training and education, teaching Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification and re-certification courses to nurses and staff at the hospital. She advanced her education and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Upper Iowa University in 2016 and is completing the last course in the Master of Nursing in Informatics program through Capella University.

“My master’s program in Informatics is similar to health information technology, but focuses more on electronic health records and the implementation of improved, more efficient workflow at the hospital. As providers, learning to understand and manage technology and its application to healthcare processes, is critical,” she said.

Trish and her husband, Corey, are co-owners of JaDecc’S, a cell phone business in Waukon. Corey’s parents, Don and Judi Shelton, founded JaDecc’S in the late 1980s. All three of the Shelton’s daughters - Marissa, Caitlin and Abby - worked in some capacity at the store, Trish said. Today, Trish serves in a behind-the-scenes human resources role part-time for the company, managing hiring, new employee orientation and scheduling.

The Waukon native believes that healthcare careers and service to the community builds and nurtures meaningful connections. “I love working in Waukon. We support each other and the community. I’ve always wanted to make an impact working in my hometown,” Shelton said.

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