Kaitlyn Getz Ozminkowski is an artist, known primarily for her ceramics, and an EMT at the Respiratory Acute Care Center at Rifle’s Grand River Hospital.
Q: Where are you from and how did you end up in Carbondale?
A: Originally I’m from Columbus, Ohio. I was working at a craft school in Maine — my background is in fine arts. Alleghany Meadows was on the board of this craft school and he asked me if I had any interest in being his assistant. He’s an amazing potter, businessman, and entrepreneur and at the time he had two amazing galleries. It was such an honor to be asked to do that and so of course I moved out here.
Q: Would you tell me a little more about your world as an artist?
A: I graduated from Ohio University which has the third-ranked ceramics program in the U.S. I love the chemistry of ceramics, really all of the science behind what we’re doing as artists. The whole valley has this amazing support system for artists, and I would get invited to do shows with people that, in my mind, are light years ahead of me. That’s the beauty of Carbondale — it doesn’t matter. You can show with this person, and have great conversations about your work with them, and grow and learn. There’s no hierarchy, we’re just all artists, making really cool stuff.
Q: What is your current job title?
A: Emergency medical technician, intermediate (EMT-I). I work in the Respiratory Acute Care Clinic at Grand River hospital in Rifle. It was created because the emergency rooms are so busy, and if someone is coughing and clearly sick with something that could be COVID related, there’s not enough capacity in the emergency rooms to handle all that.
Q: Who ends up at that clinic?
A: Grand River is a federally funded hospital, so anybody can come to our hospital. They don’t have to have insurance either. We see people from Grand Junction to El Jebel and Eagle. And all the way up to Craig, too. Patients who come to our clinic are those with any of the list of COVID-19 symptoms. We currently have seven exam rooms, but are trying to expand to 20.
Q: How many of your patients are COVID positive?
A: I started this position in August, and back then a few people a week would be positive. Now we see anywhere from 25 to 40 patients in a day, and we’re getting around eight positives per day. But we’ll see what happens. This week is really the one that’ll tell us more about what people did over the Thanksgiving holiday. The other thing that we’re seeing a lot of is people who know they’re COVID positive, but they’ve had nowhere to get treatment because you can’t be seen in a normal doctor’s office.
Q: That sounds stressful. How are you doing?
A: Everybody in health care is asking, can we please shut down? The hospital I’m at, they’ve been in construction for a post operative wound care clinic. They just finished the construction and decided to change it to a COVID ICU. It’s got four beds right now. We had been sending people to Denver or to Grand Junction, but [those hospitals] are now full so we have nowhere to send anybody. To be honest, that is what kind of broke me. I was like, oh, this is how bad it is. We’re gonna try and help people four beds at a time. It’s better than nothing.
Q: How did you decide to become an EMT?
A: I used to work at Colorado Mountain College. A former coworker of mine, David Hickel, is the EMS coordinator. I spend a lot of time outdoors because my partner and I are both climbers and ice climbers. I thought it wouldn’t hurt and it’d be interesting. I took the class on a whim. We do these clinical rotations and I did one at Children’s Hospital on a Friday night, overnight, 12 hours in the emergency and trauma department, and I was just hooked. I didn’t know that I would remain calm and do what I needed to do until I was faced with it.
Favorite hike: There is a hike in Redstone to get to the Redstone pillar, which is an ice climb. I love it. It’s very secluded and the ice is always big and cold.
Favorite book: Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise. She does that public radio podcast, On Being. She’s amazing.
Birthday: Dec. 12
Pet peeve: People who leave their grocery carts in the middle of the parking lot.