Mitzi Hesser reflects on her career after celebrating 35 years of service in the health field this week.

Mitzi Hesser celebrated 35 years of service at the Kiowa County Health Department this year. Mitzi and her husband came to Kiowa County in 1976 after serving in the Peace Corps. Mitzi and her husband, Rod, who are from Nebraska originally, came to Greensburg for a job Rod was offered in the agricultural business with Servi-Tech.

Hesser worked a couple of jobs in other areas as a nurse. When the Kiowa County Health Department started Home Health as part of the Health department, Hesser started as a nurse in 1983 and took over as administrator in 1988 following Ellen Peters.

“Kiowa County was one of the last counties in the state to get a health department,” Hesser said.

Because the Kiowa County Health Department didn’t start till 1967, Hesser is only the third administrator in its history.

Hesser said her biggest highlight of working for the Kiowa County Health Department has been seeing people find strength in themselves. “That was most evident during the tornado recovery in 2007,” she said. “I got up on May 8, 2007 knowing I was going have to step up and make sure the healthcare of Kiowa County was OK.”

Hesser worked 12-15 hours a day with FEMA right after the tornado came through. One of her fondest memories from that time was when nurses from all over the area came to help. They filled grocery baskets full of supplies and just walked down the streets meeting people’s needs, she said.

“It has been my privilege to serve the county all these years,” she said. “It is the best job anyone could have.”

Hesser has spoke around the state and assisted other public health departments on emergency plans.

“I hope that I have been able to give some wisdom and help to other counties,” she said.

One of the hardest things Hesser said about the job was working to please the public, but she reflected that her job has made her a stronger and a better person.

Hesser said that this fall the Kiowa County Health Department will be giving free flu shots to every resident who lives in Kiowa County.

“We had it in our budget and we wanted to give something back to the tax-payers of the community,” she said.