20 Under 40: Katie Hornbaker fulfills dream of living in Grand | SkyHiNews.com

20 Under 40: Katie Hornbaker fulfills dream of living in Grand

As the only nurse anaesthetist in the county, Katie Hornbaker provides essential care to Grand’s patients. She also works with the Society for Opioid Free Anaesthesia to offer care for all patients.
Robert Mendoza / Sky-Hi News

As the sole anesthesia provider in Grand County, Katie Hornbaker is no stranger to hard work and long days. Despite her often grueling schedule, Hornbaker is known for her caring attitude and her love for the community.

“She absolutely loves her job and continues to be touched by all of the people that she’s interacted with here in the county,” her nomination said.

In her work, Hornbaker tailors her care to each patient, including working to provide opioid-free anesthesia as a member of the Society for Opioid Free Anesthesia.

“Katie has helped Middle Park Health become the first hospital in the state of Colorado to be entirely opioid free in anesthesia services during surgeries,” according to her nomination.

What made you choose to live and work in Grand County?

It’s been a dream of mine to live in Grand County almost my whole life. I visited a dude ranch in Colorado when I was 4 years old and I saw a wrangler get thrown from his horse. I turned to my parents and told them that was going to be me one day. Obviously, I’m not a wrangler, but living here is a dream come true.

What kind of future do you see for your industry in the high country?

I’m very excited for the continued growth of healthcare in Grand County. With (Middle Park Health’s) hospital expansion plans, the end goal is to be a one-stop shop and help take the burden off patients getting care.

How has COVID-19 changed the way your industry does business?

We have new, extra precautions we have to take. As a critical access hospital, we were able to continue elective surgeries, but that did slow down a bit.

Who is your hero and why?

My parents are definitely my heroes. My dad is the epitome of the hardest worker and always putting his family and work before anything else. I learned my work ethic from him. He’s a trauma surgeon and anytime, whether it was Christmas Eve or one of my athletic games, if there was a patient need, he was always quick to get there … He recently retired at 71 and he was still working 60-70 weeks up until the day he retired.

My mother was a neonatal nurse and she is the most patient person and also an extremely hard worker. I’m so fortunate to get qualities from both my parents that shaped my career because if I didn’t have either of them, I’m not sure I would have felt anesthesia is my calling.

What advice or encouragement would you offer a young professional trying to make it in the county?

The best advice for someone entering the healthcare community in Grand County is just making a commitment to being a life-long learner because, being in a rural community, the patients’ needs change and we need to tailor our care. It’s just not cookie-cutter and you’re required to wear so many hats in a rural community. You have to be open to change.

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