Community Development Director
What is your job title and what do you do?
Community Development Director of Lodi Memorial Hospital is my title. The hospital where I work is private and non-profit which is very unusual in the health care industry these days. By being private and non-profit, we have the ability to do everything within the realm of our resources to help build a healthier community. For us that means not just having a hospital where people can come when they are sick, but having lots of clinics - some of them free - for the poor; an adult-day-care center; a home for battered women; and a childcare center. It also lets us support and give money to other groups who do good things for the community, like schools and organizations that help kids and old folks. My job is to make sure the hospital is meeting the needs of people who live in our community.
I'm also the spokesperson for the hospital, do the marketing, advertising and public relations, oversee the chaplaincy program, the medical library, the volunteer programs, the transitional care and physical rehab unit case management, the patient satisfaction programs and lot of other neat stuff. I also get to work with groups in this community, state wide and federally to move initiatives forward that are good for health.
Have you always worked in the same field? If not, what did you do before?
In large measure I have always done this kind of work. When you whittle my jobs back to the bone, they have always had communications at their core. It's always been my firm belief if you have strong communication skills you can get a job doing anything, anywhere, any time. I have used the same skills set - writing, speaking, designing and managing people - as a newspaper and magazine editor and reporter, as the manager of a paratransit system, as the PR director for a social service agencies and now in hospitals.
When did you know that this was the kind of work you wanted to do?
Always. I wanted to be working in an area that would help the disenfranchised, and those in need, to help themselves.
Did you ever want to do something else?
I had thought about it. When I was young, I wanted to be a social worker, but my dad had his college degree in sociology and talked me out of it. In the end, I ended up doing something that's a lot like social work anyway.
What were your favorite classes in school?
Any classes that had to do with reading, writing, languages or the arts totally captivated me.
What classes helped you most with the job you have today? What did you study in college to get where you are?
Language and social studies most helped me, but I was one of those kids who actually listened to my parents. And, in the end, I learned a lot from them. They read all the time and were artsy. So by sheer example, they showed us how much fun reading, enjoying music and the arts could be. In college I got my degree in journalism and urban studies. Post grad, I studied organizational development.
Do you have any brothers and sisters? What was it like growing up in your family?
Growing up in our family was indescribably wonderful - and WILD! Our parents are 100 percent of Irish heritage, although my dad was from New York and my mom San Francisco. We lived in San Francisco, but moved to Spain in 1965 when I was in junior high school. We moved there just because our parents thought it would be fun for me - their kids - my five brothers, my two sisters and me, the oldest child. On target, they were! What we learned by being exposed to another culture was the greatest education we could have ever hoped for. That experience opened more doors for my brothers, sisters and me than anyone could imagine possible. It was also really loud growing up in our household.
What does your family think of your job?
They are all very proud, and I am of them.
What hours do you work?
LONG hours.... Usually, I start around 6 am and end around 8 pm. The days are long, and the meetings many. But before you know it, the day is over.
Do you travel for your job?
Yes, there's lots of traveling and, you get to meet interesting and good people.
What foreign languages do you speak? Have they helped you with your job?
I speak Spanish, pretty decent French, English and Irish. Irish is actually one of the four Gaelic languages. It's really hard to understand, speak and nearly impossible to write, as there is nothing phonetic about it. The population of Ireland is 3 million and only about 30,000 people actually still speak Irish there. The language was banned for hundreds of years when the British invaded Ireland. Only in the most remote parts of the island - where my family is from - did the language survive. Irish hasn't helped me with my job, but knowing Spanish sure has. I use it all the time. When I first came back to California from Spain in 1976, lots of great job offers came my way, mostly because I speak Spanish. It's truly the best language in world to know. I teach a Spanish class at the hospital for doctors and nurses so they are able to better communicate with their Spanish-speaking patients. I force them to learn songs in Spanish, watch movies in Spanish and go to local Mexican restaurants to order beer and dinner in Spanish.
What do you like best about your job?
People who work here do really astounding things to help people live healthier and more stable lives. We work with people and help folks help themselves so that if they depend on others a lot, they can learn how to do more things for themselves and become self-sufficient. The technological and pharmacological advancements in medicine are also just mind boggling. The science and technology is so very sophisticated.
What is the worst thing about your job? If you could change things, what would you do?
There is never enough money to do all the things we'd like to do to help people. What I would change is the health-care system in this country to make sure that excellent health care and human services are available to everybody, regardless of their ability to pay. It would also be nice to have a smart pill for people to take so they wouldn't do bad, unhealthy things like smoke, overeat, drugs, drunk drive, play with guns or practice bigotry.
What do you do for fun?
Here's a surprise: Read and spend time in bookstores. I also volunteer for non-profit organizations like the library and the local homeless shelter. Hiking and swimming are fun too. Baseball is also tops... go, Giants!
Do you have any pets?
Spike, a frog, shares my office with me (he's in an aquarium of sorts).
What advice do you have for kids?
Never waste a moment. If you are in a class, and it's boring, or your parents are rambling on and on, pay attention. You have absolutely nothing to lose. You are there anyway and can never learn too much. Honestly. Live in the moment, pay attention to as much as you can, to what is happening around you. Have a good heart.
Do you have a favorite quote?
"Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand." My mom said that. And Henry David Thoreau said, "Aim above morality. Be not simply good, but good for something."
- 14 August 2001
25 March 2002
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