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Posted on: December 13, 2019

Longtime Clinic Supervisor retires after 23 years of building many relationships

Kathy and Well Child

When Clinic Supervisor Kathy Colson last April was named the recipient of the Kay Kent Excellence in Public Health Service Award, she talked about her job interview with the award’s namesake, Kay, who asked her if she viewed the nursing position as a long-term or short-term job.

“’I can do five years,’ I said, and now I’m closing in on 23,” Kathy said.

She reached 23 years this year, and Kathy’s last day at the Health Department is Dec. 13 as she retires.

“I started as a staff nurse and have grown into a supervisor, but I have remained a public health nurse,” Kathy said. “I have assisted people of all ages with family-planning decisions, immunizations, HIV and STI concerns, other communicable diseases and health issues at the juvenile detention center. I can’t think of another place in Lawrence that would have allowed me these insights and opportunities.”

Colleagues said Kathy in her career has served as a strong advocate for vaccinations in the community, particularly for children. She also has been integral in helping the health department transition to an electronic medical record.

“Kathy played a tremendous role in helping me get settled in my position, and we worked well together and accomplished a lot over the past year and a half. Kathy has such a great understanding of the world of public health and particularly the world of immunizations,” said Linda Craig, Director of Clinic Services. “I know that KDHE recognizes her as an expert and many have been directed to her for questions and training in this area. She has always made herself available to the staff and worked right alongside them in every capacity. She will be greatly missed for her high standard of care, wonderful work ethic and her dedication to the staff and clients.”

Director Dan Partridge said Kathy supplemented her expertise with being able to connect and care for others.

 “There is no one that I can ever think of who has ever worked here that has developed and created more relationships for this Health Department than Kathy,” he said. “Her time here, her roles, her ability to connect, it meant a lot.”

Advance Practice Registered Nurse Sue McDaneld was the only current staff member at the Health Department when Kathy started.

“Kathy is amazing! She is a fount of information and a real go-to person. She seems to accomplish so much without looking at all flustered,” Sue said. “She has been such an asset to the Health Department it is hard to imagine work here without Kathy.”


Other staff members shared these memories:

Executive Assistant Colleen Hill:

“Kathy is an icon at the Health Department, and she has represented the agency well over the years! She has seen a lot of changes over the past 23 years and she always choses to see the positive side. Her work ethic and dedication to the agency are stellar! We will miss her!”


Public Health Nurse Jacki Chase:

No matter how stressful the situation, Kathy stays calm and carries on! Her laugh, which is heard often, is genuine. She is patient and kind with clients and staff alike, and it is always plain to see that she loves her work, her co-workers, LDCHD and our community. What a wonderful role model she has been for all of us and I will miss her dearly. Best wishes on a well-deserved retirement.


Public Health Nurse, Healthy Families Douglas County Kelli Raney:

“What I will remember most about working with Kathy is that she was a great team player and could always see the humor in stressful situations. She will be greatly missed.”


KDHE Public Health Nurse Specialist Lisa Horn:

“Kathy’s wealth of nursing experience and public health knowledge will be greatly missed at the Health Department and, frankly, around the state. She was one of several nurses who inspired me to become a nurse myself and the knowledge she’s given me — and all the other nurses who have learned from her — has been invaluable.”


She will be missed greatly, but during her retirement, Kathy will have more time to spend with her family and travel with her husband Jim Colson to see grandchildren. Her father, Bill Osborne, lives in Lawrence. Her son, Kevin, lives in Colorado with his family, and her daughter, Brianne Wilson, lives with her family in Houston.