To do the right thing every time, is the vision and mission at Monument Health Sturgis Hospital and Clinic. Rikki Plaggemeyer, Monument Health Sturgis Nurse Manager, not only lives up to that vision and mission but insists her colleagues do so as well. Rikki is dedicated to her profession, her patients, her team, and that is why she is SDAHO’s next healthcare hero. The healthcare hero campaign is designed to recognize and celebrate healthcare professionals across South Dakota.
Rikki has been a critical member of the Monument Health Sturgis team for over 22 years, serving in a nurse leadership capacity for many of those years. “While I come to work each day with the mindset to do the right thing every time, it takes a team to hold me accountable. Rikki knows that and is not afraid to tell me when I am not living up to our vision. Our organization is held to a higher standard with Rikki.” – Mark Schulte, President Monument Health Sturgis.
When asked why she got into nursing Rikki says it was because of her kids. “I thought being a nurse would make me a better mom. If you ask my children, they may disagree as nurses tend to be less compassionate when it comes to their own family.” The truth is Rikki’s son had asthma and was very sick the first year of his life and that is what really drove Rikki to become a nurse. She started her healthcare career as a Certified Nursing Assistant and then graduated with her Registered Nurse degree. She has served as the nurse manager for the hospital and clinic in Sturgis since 2007. “She is the real deal when it comes to being a leader. Rikki leads by example and isn’t afraid to take on that next challenge.” – Mark Schulte, President Monument Health Sturgis.
Rikki was born in Wyoming, but says South Dakota is home and Sturgis is her community. “This is where I am supposed to be. I have served the community in healthcare since I got here in 1998. This is my home.” Rikki says no matter what system healthcare professionals work for you can rely on other systems to help when needed. “The patients are the most important and it does not feel like a competition with any of South Dakota’s healthcare systems.”
Rikki says her favorite part of her job is the daily interaction she has with the patients, patient family members, her colleagues, and the community. Those who work alongside Rikki say she makes them better healthcare professionals. “Rikki makes me a better leader. I’m constantly pushing my organization to new levels in this ever-changing industry, Rikki acts as my guard rails.” Mark Schulte, President Monument Health Sturgis. Rikki says setting a positive example and staying motived is hard sometimes, but it is important. “If you do not stay positive and do not have that drive, no one else will around you. Even if I do not want to be positive, I do it anyway.”
COVID-19 would push many healthcare professionals to limits they had never experienced and according to Rikki’s colleagues she encouraged her team to adopt the changes and always look for the positive. “COVID-19 has been a challenge and it has affected nursing in some negative ways, but I would also say in some positive ways too. It showed us that we cannot do our jobs without each other.” Rikki says the standard for patient care has changed and it will probably stay that way – but it is a change they can handle. “The common goal is the same, to provide great care, we just have to adjust with extra tools, we just do the best job we can.”
Rikki says working in healthcare has so many rewards, one being if you do your job right it can change someone’s entire world. “You can bring a smile to someone’s face even when they do not feel well, which to me means they can tell you love what you do and feel safe in your care.” When asked how she feels about being called a hero, “We do not do our jobs because we want to be recognized for it, we do it because it is who we are. I love what I do and love the team that I get the privilege to work with.”
Rikki Plaggemeyer, thank you for all you do and congratulations on being a SDAHO healthcare hero.
If you want to read other healthcare hero stories or nominate someone to be featured, go to https://sdaho.org/heroes/.