R.N. Lorri Greiner Found Her Calling In Public Health

Mills County Public Health Nursing Director Lorri Greiner.

Mills County Public Health nurses Lorri Greiner and Amber Wear.

Valerie Ramsey is the third member of the Mills County Public Health Office nursing team.

Registered Nurse Lorri Greiner found her calling many years ago – working in public health.

The Mills County Public Health Office’s Nursing Director has spent 33 of her 38 years in the nursing profession working in public health.

“I just enjoy helping people,” Greiner, a 1980 Glenwood Community High School graduate said during a recent interview. “That’s just been my goal all along – helping people and making a difference in someone’s life.”

Before working in public health, Greiner was a floor nurse at the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital in Red Oak.  That was her  first nursing job after graduating from Methodist College Of Nursing.

She came to Mills County Public Health in the late 1980s, when the staff worked out of a trailer in Malvern.

“When I first started in public health, I did mostly home visits. I visited the elderly and did the med assessments and all that,” Greiner recalled. “Then, I got into maternal child health. That is kind of my love.”

For about eight years in the late 1990s, Greiner worked for Montgomery County Health, with her position funded by a maternal health grant. Greiner returned to MCPH around 2000.

“I’ve been the maternal child health nurse for Mills County for almost the whole time I’ve been here,” she said. “I’ve seen lots and lots of babies come home from the hospital and I’ve done lots of visits with pregnant moms and newborn babies. I just love that.”

Greiner’s duties at MCPH have included being in charge of several child-related grants, including immunizations and lead poisoning prevention. She’s also give some given educational presentations in local schools.

MCPH is in a unique situation compared to other public health offices across Iowa because Mills County doesn’t have a hospital.

“It’s just different,” Greiner said. “Because we don’t have a hospital, we have to have relationships that are not in our county so that we make sure our people are served and get the care they need.

“We work with our (medical) providers here but we also work with a lot providers that are not in our county because so many people go out of the state to get their care.”

Greiner became the nursing coordinator right before the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.  Fortunately, Greiner had spent considerable time working in disaster preparedness before taking on the nursing coordinator role, which served her well as the pandemic played out.

“It just fit right in. As things started ramping up, it was my job to make sure we were doing what we needed to be doing and getting the other nurses onboard and help me,” she said. “There were a lot of long days and long evenings. You did what you had to do and we just kept plugging along.”

Greiner said the role public health played during the pandemic was to provide the most update and accurate information available to the public regarding the virus and eventually vaccines.

“You just give the information you have and let people make up their own minds,” she said. “Things changed. You get some instructions and two hours later you’re being told never mind, do it this way.”

Greiner said the pandemic was stressful the MCPH staff but she’s proud of the service the office provided to Mills County residents. She praised the efforts of administrator Julie Lynes, who was new to her job when the pandemic started, and fellow nurses Valerie Ramsey and Amber Wear.

“There’s only three of us nurses here and it’s a lot of responsibility and took a lot of hard work from everybody to get through it,” she said. “We needed each other to get through it. There’s no way one of us could have done it alone.”

The Opinion-Tribune

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