We invite readers to send short stories about the ways in which their lives have been personally blessed by the life and work of priests and religious in our diocese.
By Karina Fabian
When it comes to medical bills, all of us may wish for a little divine intervention, but folks at the Kalispell Medical Center are probably as close as anyone can get. When they call with questions or errors on their bill, they speak to Sister Roxanne Dolak, RSM.
Sister Roxanne’s job as chart auditor is to make sure the bills match the documentation of treatments, and as part of that, she handles patient complaints. It can be a trying job, she said, but she feels compensated by the knowledge that she’s helping people with an important issue. “We all know how medical costs have gone up, so I’m glad I can help them understand the charges and clear up any problems in billing,” she said. Also, she gets to set her own hours – something she appreciates now that she’s in her 70s.
Sister Roxanne began her life as a Sister of Mercy of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1951. She taught music for 15 years in Kalispell. In 1969, she decided to make a career change and went into nursing.
She worked at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids before returning to Kalispell in 1975 as a registered nurse on the surgical floor of the old hospital, which had been founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1910. When the new hospital opened in 1976, she became the house supervisor, a job she enjoyed because it kept her involved in all aspects of the hospital – coordinating among different departments, working in the emergency room with family and friends of patients, and being a general Nurse Friday.
“Whenever they (staff or patients) didn’t know who to turn to, they turned to me,” she said.
In 2001, she took the chart-auditing job, which is less stressful and has an easier schedule that suits her early-bird tendencies. She rises as early as 3 a.m. to exercise – yoga, Tai Chi or running the quiet streets of her neighborhood, getting in a couple of rosaries in the process – then to pray and meditate, eat and be at work by 6 a.m. By 2:30, she goes home “with my head swimming sometimes” to relax and tend house and play the piano. She was able to purchase a used piano with a bonus from the hospital and says it helps greatly with her arthritis. Then it’s to bed to begin a fresh new day.
Sister Roxanne enjoys her schedule, her job and her life in Kalispell. “Because I taught here, I run into my former pupils, their children and their children’s children. It’s very interesting, and a lot of my social life comes from work, so it’s the best of both worlds,” she said. “People ask me how long I will work. I say, ‘as long as I have my health and have this job.’”
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 21, No. 2, February 18, 2005.