Caring for people becomes a passion for CCH Legend

May 27, 2020

For more than 20 years, Lee Sanders, RN, has walked the halls at Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette, Wyoming with a smile on his face, and a greeting for everyone he comes across. The Perianesthesia Nurse is a friendly and familiar face for patients when they come into the hospital for surgical services, as well as a mentor for other nurses on the team. In just over a year, Lee will retire from Campbell County Health, but not before he receives his Legend Award.

For those who don't know, CCH defined a Legend as:

“Those people who have left an indelible impression on our minds because of their deeds and actions. Ongoing demonstration of hard work, compassion, and a reputation for greatness make someone a legend.”

“My nursing career started in April 1976 as a Developmental Aide at a facility for special needs clients in south central Nebraska,” says Lee. “Caring for people became my passion.”

Lee went on to earn his Practical Nursing Diploma at Bessemer State Technical College School of Practical Nursing in 1978, and his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing at Gillette College in 1995.

He came to CCH in January 1998 as a nurse on the Medical/Surgical Unit, and by October he transferred to Surgery as a perianesthesia nurse—a move Lee calls “a dream come true.”

Lee’s nomination form was completed by another CCH Legend Award recipient, Delora Schmidt, RN, CCMH House Supervisor; supervisor Kyla Kimball, RN; and former supervisor Kimi Parks, RN.

“Lee is always kind and helpful to his coworkers and patients. He truly goes above and beyond to make sure patients and visitors are comfortable. He always comes to work with a smile and enthusiasm,” she says. “Lee inspires those around him to make a personal connection with their patients.”

Lee is also known in his department as a man with many jokes—and a contagious laugh.

“He truly has a way with people,” Delora says.

“I love the connections I make with my patients,” says Lee. “I have taken care of several generations of the same families over and over again, and they remember me, just as I remember them.”

New staff, as well as seasoned nurses, often turn to Lee for advice. “All of his years of experience have made him an invaluable resource,” says Kyla. “One of our new grads explained that Lee taught her to care for a total joint patient in recovery and helped her connect with the right people to set up her first retirement account.”

Kyla also says that Lee is always looking for ways to improve the work flow within surgery by seeking out projects without being asked. He is always willing to roll up his sleeves to help anyone who needs it.

We asked Lee to explain what excellence every day means to him—check out his response:

"Excellence for me is a customer service video we watched more than 15 years ago. A National Geographic photographer was taking pictures of a lady in Ireland that was weaving. She said, ‘When I weave, I weave.’ That has been my focus: ‘When I take care of people, I focus on taking care of them.’ I focus on making connections with people and helping them feel at ease. I may pass you in the hall and not know your name, but I will likely smile, and say hello or good morning.”

Lee is nearing the end of his nursing career—he plans to retire in the summer of 2021—and says that it’s an honor to be nominated for the Legend Award.

“I am thankful for all those who helped me become who I am. And to the surgery staff, surgeons and anesthesia providers who deliver excellence every day,” he says.

He also thanks his family—wife, Carol; daughter, Corrie; and son, Jared who stood by him while he furthered his career as he worked and studied all the time.

Lee enjoys his time traveling with his family, and loves to spend time in the mountains. “We travel to Ohio for family reunions almost annually—and four times a year to see our grandchildren near Boise, Idaho where we plan to relocate when I retire,” he says.

Lee, thank you for your sincere interest in positive outcomes for our patients. Thank you for your dedication, your service, and for your commitment to our organization. Congratulations on your Legend Award.