Staff Stories

Faces of Inspiration Blanca and Marian Photo


There's always a way

As financial counselors, Blanca De Leon and Marian Ali help patients and families find a way to pay for the care they need. "There is always a way," says Blanca. "I always put myself in the patient's shoes and act with empathy." Blanca and Marian both greatly enjoy meeting patients and developing relationships. "We build connections. We cry with them. We hug. We really make a difference," says Marian. Blanca and Marian are proud to serve such a diverse range of patients at HCMC, and find success by inviting questions and directly involving patients.

CAY Pa Photo


Positivity is contagious.

They call her "Positive Pa." Pa Xiong's attitude radiates around her, touching everyone with whom she comes into contact. And thanks to her new role as patient placement coordinator, this nurse's reach just got even greater. "My job is to facilitate the flow of patients throughout the hospital," said Pa. This means assigning patients to beds who are coming from places such as the Emergency Department, clinics, or other hospitals. The goal is to get them in the most appropriate bed in the least amount of time. This is Pa's first time away from the bedside. Before joining the Placement Center, she worked on the Rapid Treatment Unit. "Now I get a whole-picture view of what's going on in the hospital," said Pa. She and the rest of the team are busy, but they like the challenge. "It's all about teamwork, communication, and staying positive."



CAY Kathy Wilde Photo

Making excellence possible.

As a young teenager, Kathy Wilde visited a relative in the hospital who was suffering from kidney disease. Instead of being frightened by the serious and sterile environment, Kathy was inspired by the caregivers who made such a difference for her family member. "I was very impacted by that experience," she said, and a few years later she chose nursing as a career. "I just wanted to make a difference," said Kathy about her decision. Kathy is still motivated by the same goal even though she no longer works at the bedside. As Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care, she leads a team of more than 3,000 professionals within the nursing and patient care functions at HCMC. Her job is to support her team in providing exceptional care without exception to every patient and family. "We excel because of our people."



Faces of Inspiration ChipTruwit Photo


How to make our best even better

"Every patient deserves the best care we can offer," says Dr. Chip Truwit, Chief of Radiology. "I start with the assumption that every patient is a daughter, a wife, a son, and deserves the same person-centered care we would offer a member of our own family." For Dr. Truwit, treating you like family means using the best technology, delivering the best customer service, and always searching for ways to make our best even better. His innovative spirit is currently finding expression through HCMC's Upstream Health Innovations group. They experiment with how HCMC can deliver health beyond our walls to meet people where they live and work and empower them to lead healthy lives.


CAY Stephen McMahon Photo


"Grade A" Work

Trading his chalkboard for a lab cart, Stephen McMahan switched careers from high school science teacher to laboratory assistant and ended up at HCMC. "I wanted to get into the inpatient setting where I could have direct patient interaction," said Stephen. "It’s always a challenge and I love it." Stephen visits patients in their hospital room to draw blood and other specimens for analysis. He says that in a lot of their daily routines, "we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that these are real people with real problems just like us." Recognizing that every patient interaction offers an opportunity to make a difference, he strives to build meaningful connections with his patients and families.



FOI Beth Meyers Photo

Connecting through touch

Physical touch is essential to Beth Meyers' job as a certified orthopedic technologist in our Orthopedic Clinic. She applies and removes casts, braces, and dressings for patients with injured joints and bones, and also works in the operating room as a first assistant to the orthopedic surgeon. Beth uses touch not only to perform tasks, but also to connect with patients. "Touch can change ‘clinical' into ‘cared about,'" said Beth. "Touch strengthens relationships, encourages trust, and increases cooperation." It can be expressed as a simple gesture like offering a blanket, a pat on the back, touch of the hand, a high five, or a smile. "The care of our patients can be a very intimate experience. We shouldn't be afraid to be touched ourselves and in turn care better for our patients."


CAY David Johnson Photo


House calls, not 911 calls.

HCMC is changing the way health care is delivered, and David Johnson is proof. As a community paramedic, David does home visits for patients with complex chronic diseases. Through regular check-ins, David strives to keep them engaged, healthy, and ultimately out of ambulances and the Emergency Department. "We meet people where they are," he said. This innovative approach for high-risk patients is spreading across the health care industry because it works. Not only does it improve access to primary care, but it also reduces costs by avoiding expensive emergency services. In addition, entering the home environment gives David a more holistic view of patients and new insights that can be used to improve their care. He appreciates the relationships he is able to build with patients and the ability to better meet their needs.


Faces of Inspiration Bunmi Aganmayo Photo


Seeing the best in you.

Bunmi Aganmayo always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but she didn't know she wanted to work in psychiatry until she gave it a try. From that moment on, "I was hooked." She currently works as an ECT coordinator for patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy, one method of treatment for severe and persistent mental illness. Bunmi says working in psychiatry is so rewarding because you get to see the different sides of a person. When patients come in they are sick, and with proper medication and care, they can become their best selves. She enjoys being a part of that process, providing reassurance and explanation to patients as well as good old-fashioned kindness. Bunmi also strives to be her own best self, and recently received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. "There's so much to learn. I have to keep getting better and better at what I do."


CAY Larson and DeGroot Photo


Equipped for excellence.

People, processes, and equipment are all essential to the delivery of high-quality care. You can count on Andrew Larson, Cody DeGroot, and their peers in Bioelectronics to have the "equipment" part covered. As biomedical technicians, they ensure all patient care equipment is in good working order. "The better job we do supporting the staff, the better they can focus on caring for the patient," said Cody. Even though they don't work in direct patient care, their connection to patients and families is clear. "No matter what our role is, we all have one goal: taking care of the patient," said Andrew. Bioelectronics truly functions as a team. "Everyone knows that they can count on each other to get the job done or respond to a need," said Andrew. They value cooperation, adaptability, and excellence, and each gives HCMC's equipment the time and care it needs to best serve patients and families.


FOI Carol Ann Smith Photo


Dreams do come true

"I decided to be a nurse when I was five years old and never changed my mind," said Carol Ann Smith, RN, CNRN. Those childhood dreams came into greater focus during college where she chose neuroscience as her nursing specialty. "I was fascinated with the complexity of the brain and decided then and there that if the brain didn't work, nothing else mattered." She accepted a job at HCMC as a new grad and has been here ever since. Carol Ann is now the program coordinator for our Traumatic Brain Injury Center. She is absolutely devoted to our patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI): "It is not just my job; it is who I am." As program coordinator, Carol Ann impacts the experience of all TBI patients and families by ensuring we deliver "the care they deserve."


CAY Jenny Doyle Photo


Proud to be here.

The job title on Jennie Doyle’s ID badge has changed a lot over the years, but what's always stayed the same is her deep pride in HCMC. It is visible every day in her smile and high spirits. "No other place will serve you as well as HCMC," said Jennie. Today she works in her favorite job yet: connecting employees and their families with HCMC’s health care services. HCMC is a large and complex place, and Jennie is always available to find a path to great care and service. "I have the history and experience with this organization to connect you with anything." Compassionate and tenacious, she’ll do everything she can to help someone get what they need. "I love it when I can connect someone to care. The people here are so well trained, focused, and responsive. I want everyone to benefit from HCMC as I have."


CAY Erin Bandy Photo


I make a difference.

Erin Bandy beams when she mentions her clinic scored high marks on the patient satisfaction survey. She takes their results personally, knowing that she plays an important part in creating an exceptional experience for patients and families. Erin is a medical assistant at the Senior Care Clinic located within the Augustana Care assisted living facility. She says it's often the little things that make the most difference, like introducing herself, smiling, explaining what she is doing, and making sure they are comfortable. "I like to be around people and make a difference," said Erin. She is currently enrolled in nursing school with aspirations to be a nurse practitioner someday. No matter what she's doing, she says the most important thing is to put patients first: "they are the reason why we are here."


FOI David Sindiga Photo


How unlucky became lucky

First it was his finger, then his ankle, then his shoulders. A series of unlucky accidents in recent years brought David Sindiga to our doors for orthopedic care and physical therapy. Despite it all, he considers himself incredibly lucky. "Maybe God did this so I could come to HCMC," he said. "I have an abundance of love for this place. The people here are dedicated, caring, and want what is best for the patient." Now he is finding ways to give back. He serves in our Volunteer Office to onboard new volunteers, participates on our Patient and Family Partner Roundtable to provide input into how care is delivered, and will soon join the Orthopedic Excellence Council. David shows no signs of stopping: "I feel like I should do more! I am very passionate about HCMC."



CAY Sara Photo

Supportive workplaces support better patient care.

In health care, the ultimate goal is to meet the needs of patients. But the first step in achieving that is to meet the needs of providers and staff. "We don't normally think how the high-stress environment of health care can impact providers and ultimately the experience of patients," said Sara P., who works for the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, an HCMC subsidiary. Sara is raising awareness of provider wellness at HCMC and in the broader health care community. "The work I do focuses on creating a supportive workplace for providers and the health care team so we can best meet the needs of patients." She partners with HCMC's Dr. Mark Linzer, a national authority on physician wellness, to conduct scientific research and make improvements in the health care system to decrease stressors and promote wellbeing." By bringing the best version of ourselves while we're here, we hope to make the experience better for patients and families."


Faces of Inspiration Margo Richardson Photo


Helping Patients and Families Find Their Way

"I’m a guide through the traumatic spiritual and emotional terrain of a health crisis," said Margo Richardson, summing up her role as a staff chaplain. Patients and families often struggle with questions like "Why me?" or "Why am I being punished or abandoned?" when they get sick or injured. As she listens to patients tell their story, she follows their lead and pays special attention to the sources of strength and support they mention. She then provides the spiritual care right for them, whether it is prayer, a ritual or re-connecting them to their core strengths, values, and faith. "I know I have done my job when I witness people getting to a better place. They begin to find meaning in what is happening, cope with life changes, and find hope."



CAY Walter Chesley Photo


Colleagues, Caregivers

Our reputation as "the hospital of choice" inspired Walter Chesley to take on the role of Vice President of Human Resources at HCMC. Soon after he started in 2013, this reputation was put to the test when he was admitted to our hospital for a health crisis. During his time as a patient of HCMC, Walter was pleased to see our reputation embodied in his day-to-day interactions with staff. He witnessed firsthand the seamless care coordination, staff members’ special ways of connecting with patients, and their welcoming approach to family and visitors. Walter’s experience as a patient deepened his appreciation and respect for our outstanding workforce, and he believes that investing in employees positively impacts care quality and outcomes.


Faces of Inspiration Jenny Dutra Photo


There's something about HCMC.

"My job is to support employees from day one," said Jenny Dutra, a learning consultant who manages New Employee Orientation. Jenny welcomes all employees to HCMC, sharing our culture and other important information to set them up for success. With her boundless energy and positive attitude, she gives new employees the jumpstart they need to be fully engaged with the organization, each other, and our patients. Her philosophy is "happier, more engaged employees lead to better patient care." Jenny is truly proud of our staff and the organization: "HCMC's mission fits me. The bottom line here is always the people." It's why she left the financial industry for HCMC, why she gave birth to her daughter here, and why she loves coming to work every day.


CAY Jon Gayken Photo


I’ve Been There

For Burn Center physician Jon Gayken, "Being present for patients means putting myself in their situation" – literally. When Jon was 17 years old, he developed a life-threatening blood infection and spent three months in HCMC’s Burn Center undergoing multiple skin grafts. "I know what it is like to ask for pain meds and to be in their situation," he said. "Some of those feelings and emotions will never go away." Jon believes that this special connection to patients helps him provide better treatment. His story of leaving the Burn Center and coming back as a doctor is not only a powerful inspiration to his patients, but a daily reminder for himself of how far he’s come and why he’s here today. 



CAY Priscilla Aguilar Photo


Anticipating Your Needs

"I promise to anticipate your needs before you even know you have them." By being fully present for patients and putting their needs first, Priscilla Aguilar performs her duties as a member of our Registration staff while providing the best possible customer service. When patients and families arrive at our Emergency Department in a health crisis, the last thing on their minds is talking about insurance and demographic information. A simple gesture like offering a blanket for warmth, or water for refreshment, can help ease their anxieties and transform an ordinary healthcare experience into one that they will never forget. This focus on the patient’s needs enables Priscilla to better do her job. "I am always aware of the situation and recognize that every patient is different."


Faces of Inspiration Monty Millsap and Sandra Bergner Photo


One great team.

Sandra Bergner entered Monty Millsap's life when he was hospitalized multiple times for congestive heart failure. When Monty first met his clinical care coordinator, he was apprehensive. But it wasn't long before Sandra's time, attention, and expert coordination among his healthcare providers inspired Monty to give himself that same level of care. "A crucial part of his amazing recovery is his own work and effort," said Sandra. Monty goes to at least two or three appointments a month and takes many medications in order to stay healthy. He knows Sandra always has his back and is there for him when he has questions or needs help. The trust and teamwork between these two has been life-changing for Monty, who is now able to walk and breathe entirely on his own. "He hasn't been readmitted once since January 2013," said Sandra. "That is huge."


Faces of Inspiration Don Jacobs Photo


My family and my home.

"For 42 years, I've lived within these walls and have seen HCMC through the eyes of a patient, a student, a teacher, a surgeon, a leader – and even a musician," said Dr. Don Jacobs. It all started in 1972 when he was a medical student, and today he is our chief clinical officer. Across all his roles, his focus has always been patients. "If you put yourself in the patient's shoes, you can be quickly guided to the right answer." His entire career has been spent listening to patients and helping create a healthcare system that is centered around their needs. Dr. Jacobs says it has been a tremendous privilege and invaluable gift to share in the lives of his patients and colleagues. "My career is nearing an end. What remains, first and foremost, are the people – our patients, our staff, and our partners in care. I always want to stay connected to HCMC."



CAY Joe Sedlachek Photo

The Right Way

If you’ve been to our downtown campus before, you may recognize a friendly face in Joe Sedlachek. Joe has worked at our Welcome Services desks for almost 22 years, answering questions and helping visitors find their way. Joe makes a lasting impression on the people he serves by trying to remember the name and face of everyone who stops by. "I always remember people’s names. I find that it eases the nerves of our patients and makes their experience better." With his upbeat and friendly demeanor, Joe’s goal is to set the right tone for their visit. "I want to set a good example for the organization. We are the face of HCMC – the first and last impression." 



CAY Jasmine Sidibe Photo

I Don't Hate the Doctor Anymore

"Before I came to HCMC, I always hated going to the doctor," said Yasmine Sidibe, a patient and volunteer. When she injured her hand and came to HCMC for the first time, she found a place where she felt at home. Her friends even joke that she should move in! "My providers take the time to make me feel comfortable, answer my questions, and make sure I understand the treatment plan.” Her positive experiences as a patient inspired Yasmine to volunteer at HCMC. She remembers one burn patient with whom she spent extra time because his family lived out state: "He was my rock star. I told him that I was his #1 groupie. His nurse told me she hadn’t seen him smile like that before." Volunteering has always been in Yasmine’s heart, and she is happy to be able to fully express her passion at HCMC where she says there is a "culture of helping."


Brad McFarland


Better Than Ever

An employee for 26 years and a patient for nearly as long, Brad McFarland has seen Hennepin transform over the years. He has always considered HCMC one of the best, and even chose to have his kidney transplant surgery here as well as all of his primary care. In recent years, however, Brad has also seen HCMC make positive strides in meeting the needs of patients and families that extend beyond excellent clinical care. For Brad, who works in the telecommunications department, one of the most important things we can do is support the lines of communication between patients, families and providers. "I have seen how much of a priority it has become to help patients stay connected with their loved ones,” says Brad. "Families and friends have a very important role on the health care team, and we have a responsibility to encourage their involvement in patient care." There is no doubt that Brad is proud of HCMC and the care provided here, now more than ever. 

Faces of Inspiration Dominique Rodriguez Photo


Gift of caring.

Dominique Rodriguez loves her job working in the HCMC Gift Shops. For her, it's more than just a place to sell cards, balloons, and flowers. The Gift Shop is a sanctuary where patients, families, and staff can go for a break from their day. "It is one of the least stressful places in the medical center for people." She plays a part in creating this comforting environment by making connections with her customers. She greets everyone who visits with a wave and a smile, and when they leave she always says, "Enjoy your day." She is also there when they need to talk or even get a hug to feel better. "I'm here to listen and offer a comforting hug."


CAY Katie Kummer Photo


One Improvement at a Time

Katie Kummer doesn’t wear scrubs or a stethoscope, but every hour of her work day is spent thinking about how we can better serve our patients and families. In her role as a performance improvement advisor, Katie collaborates with departments and leaders across HCMC to continuously evaluate and redesign processes and systems. "I am proud to say that I work to improve how we provide care for our patients." Although she has celebrated the successful completion of many improvement projects, the work of continuous improvement is never done. "I love working at HCMC," said Katie. Every day brings a new challenge and a new opportunity to transform our health improvement at a time.  


CAY Hue Moua Photo


How I Operate

Hue Moua has always had a special touch with computers, but his touch with people is even stronger. For Hue, great customer service is at the heart of information technology. During his 15 years in IT, including the last three years on the IT team at HCMC, he has found that the most important connections he makes aren't with cables, ports, or networks, but with people. "I make every effort to listen to their concerns, respond to issues quickly, and explain what I am doing so they understand," said Hue. With his IT expertise, Hue knows he can make a difference not only in the work of our staff, but also in the lives of our patients. "Even though I don’t work in patient care, I can help make it possible for providers here to deliver high quality patient care."


Faces of Inspiration Susan Priem Photo


Meeting your goals.

Susan Priem is a physical therapist specializing in aging adults. Patients work with her to maintain high levels of strength and mobility as they grow older. Her goal as a geriatric physical therapist is to help patients identify and meet their own goals. "Each patient I work with is here for a reason," said Susan. By building strong relationships with her patients, she brings those reasons to the surface and addresses them as part of the therapy process. "It's also really important to take time to hear what patients aren't saying," she said. Being a healthcare professional is about "meeting the patient where they are" and joining them on their journey to greater independence and improved health. "Seeing patients smile and physically improve is so amazing."


Deidre & Nancy


Two Ways to Teach

Deidre Campbell and her mother, Nancy Grimes, have very different roles at Hennepin, but they are both educators in ways that are supported and valued here. Deidre works as a nurse in the Hepatitis and Liver Disease Clinic. She educates patients about their disease and its management, leading to better medical outcomes and more satisfied patients empowered by self-care. Nancy, on the other hand, is a patient of the Internal Medicine Clinic, but she sees herself as a teacher too. “One of the things I enjoy most about HCMC is the teaching environment,” says Nancy, a former teacher and high school principal. "It’s just amazing to meet so many medical students and residents. I get to know them, and they get to know me." By taking the time to create a relationship with each other, she hopes to teach them something about how to keep the humanity in the clinical encounter. 

Faces of Inspiration Alvin Sangma Photo


Happy staff, happy patients.

"I am proud of the people I work with every day. They are the best doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff," said Alvin Sangma, a clinical care supervisor in the Emergency Department. What makes them so good at what they do? Alvin believes it's the support system around them. "I think that when you have satisfied, inspired, and cared for staff, you will have the same thing for your patients." When he first became a supervisor, he found that his main focus turned to the health and wellbeing of his staff. His goal as a supervisor is to support his team and ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs. "A lot comes at you in an environment like the ED," said Alvin, but it's important for staff to take time to support themselves and each other in order to provide the best possible care.


Bilal Flomer


A Supportive Push

Working as a transporter at HCMC, Bilal Flomer safely gets patients where they need to go for tests, procedures, and appointments. Though he may be taking them from one patient care area to another, Bilal doesn't think of the short time he spends with patients as "in-between." Rather, he says, transport is a continuation of their care, with the same potential for healing. As they pass through the hallways of HCMC together, Bilal and his patients talk openly and honestly, and through conversation comes comfort and relief. "I am here for them," says Bilal, "to listen with understanding and compassion and to give them encouragement."


CAY Muhiyadin Aden and Elma Johnson Photo


More Than Words

Every day, HCMC welcomes patients from over 30 different countries speaking over 20 different languages—37,084 patients annually. In such a landscape, professional medical interpreters like Elma Johnson and Muhiyadin "Mo" Aden play an essential role in facilitating communication between providers and patients who speak limited English. "We see things from the eyes of the patient," said Elma. "Many of us have had similar experiences and understand their preferences, needs, and values." As Interpreter Service Supervisors, both mentor their staff on increasing awareness of and respect for the patient’s perspective to support improved health outcomes. "I enjoy my work," said Mo, "because I can make a difference for people."  


CAY Jon Pryor Photo

My Dream Job

Now HCMC’s CEO, Dr. Jon Pryor got his start in healthcare when he worked as a nursing assistant the summer before college. He found his life’s work in the rewarding connections he was able to create with patients: "I felt very privileged to be able to touch the patients both physically and emotionally. I felt like I made a difference to them, and it felt good to me as well." After graduating from medical school, he went on to work as a surgeon in urology, including two years of training as a resident at HCMC. In his role as HCMC’s CEO, Dr. Pryor sees himself as he always has: as a member of the healthcare team, working side by side with our physicians, nurses, and staff to deliver patient-, family-, and community-centered care to every patient, every day, every time.


FOI Angela Hanke PhotoANGELA

First Impressions

Paramedic Angela Hanke and her colleagues in Hennepin EMS work on the front line of patient care. They are the first to respond when an accident or incident occurs in the community, performing life-saving medical services to stabilize patients on their way to the hospital. As first responders, they also have the first opportunity to create a connection with the patient and family and establish them as partners on the care team. For Angela, this relationship starts by listening to their needs, explaining what’s happening and what they can expect, and supporting them in their decisions. And most importantly, "It means showing them I care no matter what the call."


CAY Edna Martinez PhotoEDNA

Proactive for Patients

"Hola, me llamo Edna. ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar?" Patient Representative Edna Martinez is skilled in responding to patients’ and families’ concerns and ensuring that their experiences at HCMC are exceptional. But what Edna finds most rewarding about her job are the times when she is not only reacting to concerns, but also being proactive about them. The work she is most proud of is when she has visited with patients and their families to talk about a specific issue or concern, only to identify another need that they may have hesitated to mention—a need that, once met, changes their experience entirely. For Edna, the best encounters are those in which she can help the patient and family feel well cared for.


Faces of Inspiration Janet Ligon Photo


Miss Smiley.

There's no better place for Janet Ligon than the 7th Street entrance to the Blue Building where she works as a valet parking attendant. That's the entrance where many patients and families come and go for treatment in our Cancer Center. A breast cancer survivor herself, Janet connects with her customers in a way that's just as powerful and meaningful as the connections they make with healthcare providers inside our walls. Nicknamed Miss Smiley, Janet is recognized across HCMC for the impact she makes every day. Parking cars may be her specialty, but she is always ready to help in whatever capacity that's needed. "I am a people person," said Janet. "I like being around people and cheering them up."


FOI Mary K Johnson PhotoMARY K

Sharing Stories

"In health care, we all have stories," said Mary K Johnson. Patients and providers alike. Providers' stories are often about the times when a patient or family member has touched their heart in a particular way. By putting the experience into a story, "they can carry it with them for the rest of their life," she said, "and use it as a reminder of why they do this and why it's all worthwhile." Mary K has amassed a lot of stories during the 26 years she has spent at HCMC as a registered nurse. She also knows that when patients’ share their own stories with her, together they find new and important information that can be used to guide their care. And in the process of sharing each of their stories, Mary K and her patients are creating a new story together.


Faces of Inspiration Rebecca Mattis and Christopher Mattis Photo


Community connections.

Rebecca Mattis is more than just a patient services coordinator at our Brooklyn Park Clinic. She is a daughter, a mom, a friend, a volunteer, and so many other things. She sees the same in our patients: they are much more than what you see in the exam room. "What makes HCMC different is the connections we make with patients and families. We really get to know you." Patients and families have rich and varied lives outside of our walls, and that's why we need to look outward into the community to truly impact our patients' health. Rebecca embodies our mission of partnering with our community. She leads Brooklyn Park Clinic's involvement in Hennepin County's "Close the Loop" initiative to screen children for developmental issues before preschool. She also represents HCMC at many neighborhood events with her son, Christopher, by her side.



Thomas Stoner Photo


A Firsthand Account

One of Thomas Stoner's volunteer positions at HCMC is transporting same-day surgery patients to their procedures. Thomas sees his role as much more than just keeping patients safe and comfortable en route. Many surgery patients are nervous about what lies ahead, and so Thomas feels it’s also important to be a calming influence. His own surgical experiences here serve this function well. "I can appreciate their nervousness and uncertainty," Thomas said. He is able to offer patients a firsthand account of what it’s like to be cared for at HCMC. He assures them that what lies ahead is not only safe and excellent clinical care, but a caring team that keeps the patient at the center—every step of the way.  

CAY Amanda Photo


Helping Patients Breathe Easier 

When treating patients, Amanda Bjorklund utilizes her clinical expertise as a certified respiratory therapist, a role that she has held at HCMC since 2000. She has also found that one of her most effective tools is her communication skills: "Just talking to the patient, letting him or her know what to expect, and offering words of comfort and reassurance are some of the most powerful actions you can take,” said Amanda. When patients are concerned or scared about their health, she stays and talks with them until they feel secure. Even in situations where patients aren’t conscious or may not be able to hear her, Amanda makes communication a priority. "“I do everything I can to help the patient."



FOI John Concepcion PhotoJOHN

The Power of Listening

When Protection Officer John Concepcion tries to calm a patient or visitor who is upset, you will see him touch him or her in powerful ways—but not with his hands. He reaches them through his ability to listen. John understands that the key to deescalating situations isn't to restrain people. It's to give them the freedom to speak and be heard. "We can work through the whole process by connecting with them and respecting them," said John. Taking the time to actively listen helps staff connect with patients and their families on many levels that can aid in healing.


FOI Rondine Mehling PhotoRONDINE

Blast from the past

When Rondine Mehling worked here as a nurse, she preferred the night shift. For more than 30 years she cared for patients after the sun had set. She's retired now, but continues to work in the shadows – the shadows of the past. She is involved in our Hennepin Medical History Center, a small museum with the big task of preserving the history of Hennepin County Medical Center. "The history of this institution is absolutely amazing," she said. "We must always remember we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us." At the History Center, Rondine works behind-the-scenes doing research, cataloging items, and preparing exhibits. She dedicated her career to our patients and families and continues to find ways to give back. Experience our History Center in the lower level of Blue Building.


FOI Ray Cathey PhotoWhat Really Counts

"I try to go above and beyond for at least one person a day," said Food Service Worker Ray Cathey, who has proudly worn his chef's hat in the HCMC cafeteria for almost three years. Ray always meets his daily goal—and then some, by helping hundreds of others in more modest ways. You’ll see him getting a cover for a patient's plate or finding the crushed red pepper for someone whose meal needs a little heat. But Ray knows it's not the numbers that count. It's the effort. And for someone with such a naturally positive and helpful attitude, it doesn’t even take much of that.




CAY Paige Saunders Photo

On Top of Going Under

If Nurse Anesthetist Paige Saunders wrote an advertisement for surgery at HCMC, it would read something like this: "Making your experience so good you’ll wish you weren’t asleep for it!" The tagline captures her approach to the delivery of care, using humor and laughter to connect with patients and help them cope with difficult situations. "My heart is truly in this to care for others," said Paige. She is passionate about her job and devoted to her patients. "Right before patients are asleep I put my hand on their cheek and tell them we are going to take good care of them. We will be with them the entire time they are in surgery, monitoring their pain and anesthesia." 


FOI Rick Printon Photo

Treating the whole you

"I always welcome family members into the treatment room," said Rick Printon, a chiropractor in our Integrative Health Clinic at Parkside. Rick learned the importance of having family present when he accompanied his sick father on medical appointments. "Another set of eyes and ears are very helpful for ensuring patients understand." His perspectives on family are in keeping with the integrative health model under which he works. The Integrative Health approach treats the whole person, starting with the least invasive therapies. "It has been my dream to combine the excellent medical care HCMC offers with our clinic's evidence-based chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy treatments," said Rick. By blending conventional and integrative therapies, Rick and his team strive to provide the best care possible.



Faces of Inspiration Traci Corliss Photo

Listening to you.

As a community health worker at Richfield Clinic, Tracey Corliss coordinates many aspects of care for patients with various chronic conditions. She knows she is doing her job when patients open up to her. "You would be amazed by how just sharing your struggles with someone can help start healing and shed light on things that have prevented that healing in the past." Tracey knows from her own experiences that healthcare can be scary and confusing. By building connections with patients, she hopes to create an environment where patients feel knowledgeable and comfortable with their healthcare. Tracey encourages patients to ask questions and reminds them that their healthcare team is always centered around you.




FOI Shawna Wellnitz Photo

Putting Myself Out There

When meeting a patient for the first time in the Observation and Recovery Unit where she works, Shawna Wellnitz always starts by introducing herself and her role as a health care assistant. In doing so, she is no longer just another staff member, nameless and unfamiliar, going in and out of the room. She becomes a person, with a purpose that she always makes sure to relate to the rest of their care. She says that it is important to "put yourself out there" for patients, just as they must do for you. And for Shawna, introducing herself to patients is the first step toward making their interaction more personal—and more healing.



FOI Joan Hagen Photo

Care You Can’t Measure

Small differences can be immeasurable. Joan Hagen learned this simple lesson firsthand through her own family's health care experiences, and she has applied it to her position as a Radiology Technologist ever since. So, when Joan takes patients back for procedures, she makes sure their families have a chance to say "I love you" first. The small gesture is an immeasurable boost for patients and families, and a good example of how to partner with them in a simple way and keep them at the center. Joan knows that affirmation and assurance go a long way towards a healing experience and she always makes time for them.



FOI Marianne Knutson Photo


Patient & Provider in One

Soon after Marianne Knutson started working at Hennepin County Medical Center, she became a patient here. After nearly fifteen years, she’s still both. The Laboratory Manager credits her longevity as a patient to the relationships she has built with her health care providers, who all have supported and empowered Marianne and her husband to participate in her care. As they work together as partners to treat her condition, Marianne and her providers have shared moments of hope, disappointment, and surprising tenderness. Through her experiences as both a provider and patient, Marianne has learned how important it is for providers to simply listen.



FOI Rene Cabrera Photo

Bringing the Best of Me

"To be kind," says Rene Cabrera. "That’s what we are here for." A Facilities Management Worker, Rene knows his service to Hennepin County Medical Center doesn’t stop with his official job duties—keeping our facilities safe and productive. Rene also strives to create a caring and warm welcome by greeting patients in the hallways with a smile, connecting them to hospital services, and walking with them to appointments when they need help. He believes that these daily connections with patients have made him a better person. "It’s a very good feeling when you help somebody."



CAY Jampa Ritzekura Photo


Power of a Calm Mind

A calm mind improves communication, creates trust and respect, and enables you to be present and focus on others’ wellbeing – with a calm mind, anything is possible. Every morning, Jampa Ritzekura practices breathing meditation to achieve this ideal state of mind. He finds that it enhances the care he provides to patients and families in Same Day Surgery where he works as a health care assistant. With a customer service philosophy inspired by the Dalai Lama’s teachings, Jampa practices compassion and finds ways to relate to patients through our common humanity. "I take care of patients as if they were one of my family members because we are all the same: human beings."


Faces of Inspiration Brenda Photo


Creative ways to connect

As a telehealth nurse, Brenda Hopper uses creative ways to connect with patients and families over the phone. Although she can't care for patients through touch, she "spiritually and emotionally touches" every person she speaks with. Brenda uses her strong listening skills and soothing voice to care for patients, and always makes sure to introduce herself and keep patients informed every step of the way.


CAY Jennifer Tucker Photo


Practice makes perfect.

"I moved to the cities for HCMC," said Jennifer Tucker, a nurse who started in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. She was drawn to HCMC because of its mission and commitment to continuously improving care and service. Currently an Education Specialist in the Simulation Center, Jennifer plays an important role in supporting improvements in patient care. In the Simulation Center where she works, health care professionals practice real-life medical situations and procedures in a guided, safe environment. This type of learning is in demand at HCMC, a teaching hospital where she says "people are focused on learning." Participants receive immediate feedback and work on honing their skills, which results in better, safer care for patients. Jennifer and the Simulation Center team are busy, but they maintain a helpful, can-do attitude and always ask, "How can the Sim Center help?"

Faces of Inspiration Char Elioff Photo


Talk to me.

Char Elioff started her career as a medical technologist, but switched to social work when she realized she wanted to interact more with patients. Social work is her passion, and patients can tell she is sincere in her desire to help. "It can be so busy in the Emergency Department, but everything goes away when you see a patient smile." What's funny, though, is that this "people person" doesn't actually do that much talking when working with patients in our Emergency Department. She mostly listens. "You have to take the time to just listen to the patient's story to better understand them and see where they are coming from," she said. Char's approach with patients is to let them talk and look for the answers in what they say. "I never tell people what to do."


CAY Stacey Hayes Photo


Showing How Much I Care

Stacey Hayes got her start in the Medical Records Department, but found her home when she took a position as a patient services coordinator in the Addiction Medicine Clinic. For more than 12 years she has helped support and encourage those struggling with the disease of addiction. "Our clinic is like a family," said Stacey. "The patients are part of that family too." Every day she offers a warm welcome and smile when they check in, making sure to listen carefully and remember special details. "It means a lot to remember something a patient says and then ask about it a couple days later. It shows patients you are really listening to them and care about their lives." For Stacey, each patient provides an opportunity to show how much she cares.



Faces of Inspiration Lisa Wicktor Photo

New beginnings.

Lisa Wicktor's inspiration to become a speech-language pathologist came from her mother. Born with a cleft palate, her mom's life opened up once she started receiving speech therapy. This new beginning showed Lisa what was possible and helped give her the positive attitude that she brings to each encounter with patients. It can be a very frustrating experience for patients as they work through the communication and swallowing challenges caused by stroke, brain injury, and other health issues. But Lisa's approach keeps them focused on their goals. She tries to end each session on a positive note, and throughout their care she gradually brings them to a place of acceptance and readiness for what comes next. "We may not be able to get them back totally to the person they were before, but we want them to see that there is life with a new me."

CAY Jennifer Kelley Photo


Cheering All

With her unmistakably upbeat, friendly attitude, it’s fitting that Jenny Kelley calls herself a "cheer-leader" to fellow nurses. Jenny is a clinical care supervisor in Ambulatory Services, mentoring her colleagues to develop their clinical skill and competency. She believes that offering support and gratitude to staff is how to keep them engaged and doing their best work. "I am always telling other nurses and staff, ‘Thank you for the work that you do.’ " Jenny spreads positive energy in all her interactions, not only by helping her colleagues feel supported but also by encouraging patients to look forward and not focus on sad experiences. "You need to figure out what the patient wants and what works for them and then help them achieve that."