Sister Gretchen has been a cornerstone for the Brazos Valley in terms of leadership and volunteerism over the past 24 years. She has generated support for countless groups through her unselfish donation of time, talents, and willingness to “step in and step up” to worthwhile causes.
Sister Gretchen arrived in Bryan, Texas, in 1981 and began her health ministry and mission at St. Joseph Hospital with “outstanding bills” on her desk and found herself financially unable to distribute payroll checks her first week! Her inspirational leadership has helped this healing ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis grow from a small community hospital into a regional health system serving 13 counties and some 300,000 Brazos Valley residents. Her vision has brought major regional and medical services to the community such as heart, cancer, rehabilitation, surgical services, and maternal/child care and emergency services.
The development of the St. Joseph Health System is testament to her determination that all citizens would have access to medical care. Communities throughout the area now have local hospitals where primary and outpatient diagnostic care is available-as well as access to emergency services. Eight rural health clinics have been established in the region and offer primary care to residents where, in may cases, there would be no other medical services.
Fortunately for the citizens of the Brazos Valley, the efforts of this determined and devoted community citizen did not stop with her efforts within the walls of St. Joseph facilities. She has devoted over 24 years to this community to improving health and living conditions for the less fortunate.
Those with health problems; her visionary leadership and support in the creation of the Prenatal Clinic, Health For all Clinic, Project Unity as well as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association. Those in hope of a better life with greater economic opportunity; her support and service as a board member of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce and virtually all of our regional chambers of commerce. Those who could not afford housing; her corporate leadership and board service in support of Habitat for Humanity. For young professionals eager to learn more about their community and to contribute toward achievement of its goals; her integral involvement in the development of the plan and health programs which created the Hammond Oliver High School for Human Sciences at the Bryan ISD. And when Heart Disease and effects of deteriorating eyesight and hearing issues threatened to restrict her vitality, creativity and commitment to volunteerism, she has redoubled her efforts to turn the challenge into an opportunity to further serve others.
Sister Gretchen’s unselfish acts of services has been recognized through numerous community, state and national honors, including: · Citizens of the Year, 2004, Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce · Women of Distinction Award, Bluebonnet Girl Scouts Council · Woman of the Year, Prenatal Clinic · Ministry Healthcare Award presented by Bishop John McCarthy, Diocese of Austin · Outstanding Board Member/Past President, Catholic Health of Texas · Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives.
With her recent diagnosis of heart disease and her challenges with vision and hearing issues, she could have quietly retired and let the disease processes overtake her life. Instead, Sister Gretchen has intensified her efforts, making profound changes in our community for those afflicted with her illnesses. Sister Gretchen is stepping down as President/CEO of St. Joseph Health System, effective, June 13, 2005. She plans to continue her ministry in the Brazos Valley by becoming a member of the fund development team for the system at St. Joseph Foundation.
Sister Gretchen is a role model of how visionary business leadership can be created through spiritual strength. In our community, Sister Gretchen symbolizes St. Joseph – the strength of its mission and the commitment of its team to provide care to the community. No leader could ask for more than to represent the best qualities of their organization.