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Heidi Hochhausen, FNP in Kenmare
By Caroline Downs
Kenmare’s newest family nurse practitioner, Heidi Hochhausen, will have the same schedule as several of her patients, working in town for two weeks at a time then heading home to another state to spend time with family.
“I can rotate in and out with my friends who are oil workers,” she said.
Hochhausen, of Cassville, WI, started her position for Trinity Community Clinic-Kenmare and Kenmare Community Hospital on April 5th, about four years after first hearing of openings for health care providers in North Dakota.
She actually came to Kenmare at that time for an interview. “[Hospital administrator] Shawn Smothers wanted me to move here,” Hochhausen said. “I loved it when I came up, but my husband didn’t want to leave our home.”
Hochhausen and her husband live on the banks of the Mississippi River in southwestern Wisconsin, in a log home her carpenter husband built. The couple’s children are grown now, but the Hochhausens still raise and ride horses, traveling to some of their favorite trails in Illinois, Arizona and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
“This job will pay for hay,” she said, with a smile.
She prefers to work in rural settings. “In Wisconsin, I grew up in a town that was unincorporated,” she said. “We live in a small town there now, that used to have about 1200 people and has about 900 now. You get to know people that way.”
She smiled as she referred to changes she noticed since her last visit to Kenmare. “It was a lot smaller when I came up here four years ago,” she said.
Although a move to North Dakota seemed impossible then, now the job change feels just right for Hochhausen, who has worked in health care for 34 years.
“I’ve been an FNP for 11 years,” she said, “and I’m considering myself semi-retired with this job [in Kenmare].”
Hochhausen will stay busy around the clock during her two week-shifts at the Kenmare facilities, but the schedule is different than the routine she has been maintaining in Wisconsin.
“I worked in a rural clinic there during the week and for an urgent care clinic on Sundays for a different hospital,” she said. “I also spent two days a week at the main clinic in Platteville, and in the evenings, if I wasn’t busy, I’d go in and deliver babies.”
She paused to take a breath and smiled. “My patients are still calling me up here,” she added.
Hochhausen has had a career in health care since high school, when she and a friend started working as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) during the evenings after classes. Hochhausen continued in the field, first attending an LPN program and then earning her associate’s degree as an RN when the hospital that employed her paid her tuition.
“I’ve gone back to school about every five years since then,” she said.
She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and finished her master’s degree at a college in Dubuque, IA. If that all didn’t keep her busy enough, along with raising a family and tending to horses, she volunteers on occasion for the Red Cross, including a stint in San Diego, CA, when wildfires burned hundreds of homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate in 2007.
“I like taking care of people,” she said, “and I’m still in health care.”
Hochhausen looks forward to seeing patients of all ages in Kenmare. “I do family practice,” she said, “and my first job was with a pediatrician, so I feel comfortable with children.”
She lives in an apartment in Kenmare during her shifts, but she actually looks forward to the commute back and forth from Wisconsin. “Sooner or later, I’ll get to take the train,” she said. “I’ve never done that!”
Appointments with Hochhausen can be made by calling the Kenmare Clinic at 701-385-4283.