In his words
I’m very blessed to work at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which supports a faith-based work environment. Where some individuals might not be able to express their faith or talk about their faith, I’m able to do that.
As leaders, we connect with patients every day. What I have the opportunity to do is meet with patients and talk to them about their experience.
I specifically remember being in a meeting and learning that a coworker had a significant tragedy in her life. We were comfortable enough to stop in that meeting, pause for a moment and say a prayer for that person. . . . I’m blessed to be able to work in an environment that allows that.
I work in an area where people who struggle with addiction sometimes lose everything. . . . It can impact them financially. It can impact their ability to work, but yet people need help.
It’s not uncommon for us to have people show up at our door — even people who are well-educated and had good jobs until their addictions cost them their families and homes and their careers. We don’t know whether we are going to be paid or not for their care. But we always say, ‘Let’s do the right thing for this person.’ I believe that when you do that, it all works out. I can see that time and time again.
That’s part of the history of this organization that I work in. It’s part of the mission that the Sisters of St. Joseph established when they opened this hospital. They have a mantra of welcoming all without distinction. It’s a mantra and a theme they lived by, and that really spills over into who we are at St. Joseph’s. I’m proud of that, and I appreciate the fact that I’m supported to make those decisions every day for individuals. I think of individuals who come in through our inpatient program and continue through our outpatient program and end up back with their families and back in their careers and are successful.
My parents were my first teachers of the faith. They worked hard to send me and my siblings for a Catholic education. I was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame at St. John the Baptist in Savage. I had the good fortune of going to Holy Angels in Richfield and being educated by the Sisters of St. Joseph. And then I went to St. John’s University and was educated by the Benedictines.
I wasn’t sure that I should move into mental health and addiction. Prior to this, I had been the director of social work and I was encouraged to apply for this job by an administrator here, Phyllis Novitskie. . . .But Sister Mary Louwagie is a CSJ and I asked to meet with her just to discern. . . . She has always been a strong advocate for people with mental illness and addiction. She said, ‘I believe you are the right person to do this work.’
I am proud of the team that we’ve developed here at St. Joseph’s. It’s the providers, it’s the leaders that I work with, and it’s the staff. Over the last seven years, there’s been a lot of work in really trying to understand what it’s like and to walk in the shoes of our patients to try to get as close as we can to understanding their situation.
Company: St. Joseph’s Hospital
Title: Group director of mental health and addiction care
Parish: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Minneapolis
Children: Rachel, Aaron, Michaela, Miguel, Noah, Cassandra, Maria
Activities: Cantor at St. Leonard, parish volunteer, reading, running