You know you’ve really made an impact in Fort Collins when you get an entire day designated to you for your contributions.

Not many get to experience this, but Donna and Paul Poduska have. The City of Fort Collins proclaimed Feb. 26, 2019 as Donna and Paul Poduska Day, thanks to their service and commitment to our community, and that’s only one of the many ways that proves the extent of their impact.

Donna and Paul Poduska have called Fort Collins home for several decades, and the two are most known for their contributions at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital for a combined 101 years. They’ve been married since 1972 and have lived in the same home since 1975. The couple has two children and three grandchildren.

Paul, who grew up around the world as part of a military family, started at PVH in 1968 after graduating from Colorado State University. He was an infection preventionist and served a total of 51 years at the hospital. Donna, originally from Montana, started her gig at PVH as a nurse in 1969, and she has since then served roles as head nurse and director of surgical nurses in her 50 years with the hospital. Her role before retirement was as Chief Nursing Officer — a role she landed in 2011.

Now retired, both agreed that the freedom of innovation at PVH is what kept them at the hospital as long as they were — on top of an incredible and supportive staff surrounding them throughout the years.

“Every staff member, no matter who they were, could come up with different program ideas,” Donna explained. “That spirit of innovation has always been there. We’d always go to national conferences and there would be speakers or posters about a particular new practice, and we’d look at each other and say, ‘Well, we’ve been doing that for years!’ For a small community hospital, we were right up there with the big dogs with what we offered and how we cared for patients.”

Education is also extremely important to the couple, who have been very supportive of the city’s school district. Between volunteering at Shepardson Elementary where their daughter-in-law works, to teaching community college courses at Front Range Community College, the couple believes that the future of the community is in the hands of our children.

Donna and Paul Poduska in their garden at their home in Fort Collins.

Donna and Paul Poduska in their garden at their home in Fort Collins.

“We love mentoring or helping instill the love of lifelong learning into future generations,” Donna said. “Sharing what we know is a way of giving back to the community.”

So, what makes Fort Collins home to the couple? Paul, whose called multiple places home from cities in California to Japan, said the city’s immense variety of activities. From our walking and biking trails to our incredible restaurant scene, Paul said there has been and will always be things to do in Fort Collins.

Donna said her family and connections from PVH are what make the area home for the couple, as well as the thriving economy, thanks to the impact of large organizations and small businesses. She said it’s exciting to live in a community that so many others want to move to.

“It’s just a familiar, great place to live in!” she said. “You can go downtown anywhere and run into somebody you know. With the size of this town, that’s pretty remarkable.”

Now that the couple has retired, the two plan on doing more of a lot of different things: traveling, gardening and exploring Old Town and Horsetooth, to name a few. But no matter what, the couple said they will always keep their roots in Fort Collins. In fact, they’ll probably even stay in their home of 44 years.

“We would never think about moving,” Donna said.

Paul delightfully agreed.

“It’s always been home,” he said.