Pictured above is Anne a former employee of Racine Fire Department

Nurse Anne Wanggaard is no stranger to Racine. Growing up in a family that was active in the community had an impact on her. The JI Case High School alum always knew that nursing was not just a career she was going to pursue, but a lifestyle. This Racine nurse’s story may go on to impact future nurses.

Her dedication, commitment, and service to Racine as a nurse makes her the Hometown Hero of the Week. Becoming a nurse was a journey. As an adult, she lived in the Greater Madison Area. Volunteering as a firefighter was a new role Anne took on, serving in both the Madison area and then for the Racine Fire Department.

But nursing was her calling.

Superhero in Scrubs

For more than a decade, she has been a caretaker and real-life superhero in scrubs. Melissa Delaney, a former Hometown Hero of the Week, called the Racine County Eye to nominate Anne on behalf of the Ascension-All Saints Emergency Department. Anne is an RN and nursing supervisor.

“Anne is deserving of this award and more,” Delaney said. “Especially during the pandemic. She rose to meet the patient, staff, and the community’s needs.”

When the Emergency Room Department in Racine needed someone to step up, Anne did so without being asked. While her job includes administrative roles, practicing patient care is a priority. “The base of who you are as a nurse is patient care. And you do not want to lose that,” Wanggaard said.

Adamant about keeping up on her skills, Wanggaard committed to working on the floor. Going in on her days off, handling situations, and being a listening ear to the staff is vital for the emergency department.

Working through tough situations, physically and mentally, can be a lot to take on as an employee. Delaney says. “Through COVID-19, Anne has been helpful. Making sure people have time off and that people take a break when it’s needed. She puts us first so we can see our families, rather than her seeing her own.”

Wanggaard is there as support. The Ascension All Saints Emergency Room Department is a “big family, and we have to take care of each other,” says the nursing supervisor. As leadership, Wanggaard expects nothing less of herself to be there for patients and employees.

Wanggaard’s Motivation

Nurse Anne wearing her Personal Protective Equipment while working

One memorable moment that keeps her going, primarily through COVID-19, is patient stories. Shortly after discharge, while cleaning a room, she found a note from a patient. That note said, “You are an exceptional nurse. Thank you for all your care.” A note, written on a scrap paper, remains on her refrigerator and serves as motivation during COVID-19.

COVID-19 rearing its ugly head isn’t enough to stop the staff from doing what they are doing. But it is patient feedback that keeps Wanggaard going. But COVID-19 requires teamwork, and she demonstrates dedication.

COVID-19 Information

“If emergencies arise, Racine residents should know that the ER is a safe place for them to come,” Wanggaard said. Despite the challenges COVID-19 brings, regular emergencies still occur. Do not ignore problems or push off your concerns.

Ascension-All Saints Hospital is a welcoming environment willing to help all patients. Anne stresses the importance of having an understanding. Practicing compassion is helpful during this troubling time.

Masking patients is a point that the hospital focuses on reinforcing. But she also keeps an open mindset when managing those who are fearful or refuse to wear a mask. A great tool to assist patients is educating. People are struggling, but without shame, she lifts others by adapting.

Learning the concerns of her patients allows her to educate them on COVID-19. She provides a listening ear and exchanges information that is impactful.

“Always deal with situations, especially with COVID-19, in a positive way. Never close a door, never turn anyone away, and always be open to those in need” is what she says helps her through.

Support Our Hero

Anne working as a firefighter is pictured with a coworker

Racine can support this hero by being positive and considerate.

Anne’s advice is simple. Respect others, help others, and always treat others the way you want to be treated. Support each other through acts of kindness. Hold the door for a customer at the store or give a thumbs up to a passing stranger.

Anne says: “We cannot dwell on what is happening, we can just learn to understand.”

Recognize people for the goodness that they are doing. If a healthcare worker does something honorable, nominate them to be the next Racine County Eye Hometown Hero of the Week. You can nominate them by clicking here.

Email ewidmar@racinecountyeye.com with any questions or if you need help nominating a hero in your life.

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