Family Service Assistant
Linda became a member of the extended O’Connell Family in 2017. “Joining the team at O’Connell’s just seemed natural to me.” Linda’s interest in the business was founded in her healthcare career as well as experiences as a teen with an ailing father who died of cancer at the age of 49 and the loss of her mother after years of struggling with Alzheimer’s. “This is a lot different than my first job as a kid when I trapped pocket gophers for the bounty paid by the township.” Aside from trapping gophers as a kid, over the years she babysat, walked the bean fields, checked out groceries, drove school bus and worked a few years for what was then Northwest Airlines. “The best job in my whole life was raising my two children and later seeing them become parents to my five grand daughters.”
She actually began her healthcare career back in 1987 when she began processing medical claims as office support for a small insurance agency. From there she spent a number of years with two medical facilities doing collections, assisting patients with claims and policy service requests, processing medical records and billing for Medicare/Medicaid and third party payers.
In the mid 90’s Linda accompanied an RN from what was then Heartland Homecare and Hospice to visit a frail, ailing elderly lady in the nursing home. “That first visit to Lottie changed my life and the direction I took to become a Registered Nurse.” It’s a wonderful story, much too long to tell here, but it will be included in the book she has begun to write detailing her life from a little girl growing up on her family farm until today. A book? “Yes, it’s one of the things that’s been on my bucket list for some time. Now that I have finally retired from Western Wisconsin Health, ending a 16 year career as a nurse, I hope to finally get it written.” “I wouldn’t suggest it was a cake walk beginning nursing school at age 54 but life sometimes throws us a few curves. I was the oldest in the class and recall asking so many questions; by then all my previous life’s lessons seemed to add more questions than answers about the field of medicine. Through those 16 years as an RN, I had the great pleasure and privilege of seeing new life come into the world and holding the hand of one who was leaving this life. While I worked in a number of different departments the one area I most enjoyed was the Emergency Department – a bit strange for someone who much prefers order and routine over organized chaos.”
“I am thankful to Mike for taking me in under his wing and guiding me to learn the finite details that can make all the difference in supporting and lifting up people in a very difficult and challenging time of grief and loss. I do miss the ER, but this work gives me the opportunity to give back to our clients. It feels a lot like hospice nursing. Once a nurse, always a nurse I guess.”
“I’ve been asked a number of times how it feels to now be retired (Nov. 2019) and I reply that it doesn’t really feel much different yet; there are so many things I want to do now that I’m not at the hospital. I really want to get this guitar thing figured out so I can play a few songs, do some more small carpentry projects, try my hand at a stained glass art class, continue to paint and revisit some pottery projects.” She also enjoys an afternoon of Bridge with close friends and relishes the time to sit quietly with a good cup of coffee watching the morning unfold while taking in the landscape of her back yard. “That’s the one place I can go and totally block out all the cares in the world. It’s always changing from season to season; a fresh palate each spring to try some new color or flower bulb.” When not in her back yard you might encounter her working one of the Red Cross Blood Drives at either Gethsemane Lutheran or O’Connell’s. More than likely if you live in Baldwin you may have seen her out walking with her little Yorkie-Poo, Jackson. “He is such a joy and yes, kind of spoiled I’m afraid.” While her interests vary greatly, one thing remains unchanged–her Minnesota roots and love of the Vikings. Her favorite color? “Well, Purple, of course!”