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Sister Jomary Trstensky, O.S.F. and Karl Ulrich, M.D., M.M.M. Marshfield Clinic President and CEO Karl Ulrich, M.D., M.M.M., and Sister Jomary Trstensky, O.S.F., unveil her portrait at the Heritage Award program.

Heritage Foundation

Sister Jomary Trstensky

2010 Heritage Foundation Award Winner

Sister Jomary Trstensky, O.S.F., a leader of the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) , has been honored as the 13th recipient of Marshfield Clinic's Heritage Award.

The award ceremony took place October 21 in the Laird Center for Medical Research, located on the campus of Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield.

Sister Jomary is a former president and CEO of HSHS, which owns and operates Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, among other hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin.

She thanked those who supported her nomination and was humbled to be the first female recipient of the award. "The Hospital Sisters have always revered their heritage and so it is especially meaningful to receive this award from an organization that values its history and corporate culture," she said.

"I was given, through luck of the draw, the opportunity to make a difference in shaping health care in Wisconsin and Illinois, surrounded by people who'd work with me to create a vision and make it happen. One has to be living at the right time. I happened to be at the helm of an organization when there were dramatic changes in health care, more than in the past 50 years and it's still happening."

She outlined changes in health care that led to creation of the work relationship between HSHS and Marshfield Clinic and the challenges faced by the two organizations since that collaboration was created. "This simple story of collaboration reveals what can be accomplished when people of high ideals work toward a cause. I have valued being a part of this effort," she said.

"Sister Jomary worked to build and strengthen the relationship between Marshfield Clinic and Hospital Sisters," said Karl Ulrich, M.D., M.M.M., Marshfield Clinic president and CEO. "Together, we worked to expand primary care to rural communities." He also described the humble award recipient as "a truly remarkable leader . . . and friend of humankind."

Reed Hall, former executive director of Marshfield Clinic, recalled meeting more than a decade ago with Sister Jomary to plan the growth of Marshfield Clinic's West Division.

"Sister's encouragement of Marshfield Clinic certainly enhanced the rapid expansion of the Clinic's presence in western Wisconsin," Hall said. "Sacred Heart Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital have proven to be invaluable partners for the Clinic, dating back to establishment of the Clinic's Chippewa Center in Chippewa Falls in 1987."

Sister Jomary follows in the footsteps of the innovative Hospital Sisters who first came to America from Germany in 1875. Invited to come to western Wisconsin to care for the sick and build hospitals, they responded.

They raised capital to finance the building and support of their hospitals by selling "tickets" to men working in Wisconsin lumber camps. It was a forerunner of hospital insurance. The Sisters sold a $5 ticket which insured one person for a year in case of sickness, while a $10 ticket covered the holder for six months in case of accident.

Sister Jomary started her health career as a nurse and was part of the surgical team that performed the first open-heart surgery in Springfield, Illinois. She rose rapidly through HSHS. In 1988, she became executive vice president of HSHS, overseeing its 13 acute care hospitals throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. She later served for 17 years as president of HSHS. She was elected by her community of sisters as the 18th provincial superior of the American Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, Springfield, Illinois. This past summer, Sister Jomary celebrated her Golden Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of her profession of first vows.

Marshfield Clinic's Heritage Foundation was established in 1997 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the community in government, civic leadership, education, medicine, law or business. Each year, the Heritage Foundation presents an honorary award to an individual who has made a difference.

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