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Nurses, public health director honored at luncheon



BISMARCK, N.D. – Local hospitals, nursing schools and businesses came together Wednesday to honor and celebrate nurses during the Tribune’s third annual “Nurses: The Heart of Health Care” luncheon at Bismarck State College’s National Energy Center of Excellence.

The event, presented by CHI St. Alexius Health and Sanford Health, recognized 10 nurses who strive to deliver compassionate care. Nine of the honorees were selected by a local panel of judges. Tribune readers voted and selected Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Nurse Manager Theresa Schmidt as readers’ choice.

Raumi Kudrna, vice president of patient care services for CHI St. Alexius Health, said despite a year full of challenges, nurses and health care teams were able to persevere and grow closer together.

“The impacts all of you leave on our community are countless and I am prouder than ever to be a nurse,” Kudrna said. “I am humbled and privileged to work with each and every one of you.”

Wendy Kopp, vice president of nursing and clinical services for Sanford Bismarck, said in the past year, nurses proved to be extremely resilient and resourceful.

“We are expert professionals and great humanitarians committed to our profession,” she said. “We are only bound by the limits of our vision and shared determination.”

This year, an additional award was presented to the Health Care Hero of the Year.

“This award was created specifically to address the broader impact on the entire health care system over the past year due to the pandemic,” said Rebecca Baron, director of clinical services for Mid Dakota Clinic, the award’s sponsor. “While we believe all health care workers are heroes and deserve our gratitude, we are especially proud to honor someone who showed exemplary sacrifice and selflessness during this pandemic.”

The award was presented to Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Director Renae Moch. Her team said she has been instrumental in providing education to the public and has provided strong leadership during the pandemic.

In September, while sitting on the Burleigh-Morton COVID-19 Task Force, Moch said she was the target of personal attacks and online harassment because of the group’s response to the pandemic, which included recommending local mask mandates.

On Wednesday, a teary-eyed Moch walked on stage to receive a $1,000 prize from Tribune Publisher Gary Adkisson, who said she can use the money “to take a nice vacation.”

“I’m completely shocked and grateful for the honor and the award,” Moch said. “It has been a super-difficult past year. It’s made me a stronger person and a stronger leader. Some things that I thought I could not get through I was able to push forward, and I could not do it without each and every one of my staff that hung with me through it all.”