The Behavioral Health Department at Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. recently welcomed back a top-notch clinician, who brings a wealth of experience and passion to the position.
Deirdre Piotrowski has returned to the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center, after spending a year working with the Yupik Tribe, in Alaska. She originally came to work at the Montezuma Creek Clinic in 2003, after a friend told her about a job opening there. She loved her job with UNHS, but the commute between her home in Mancos, Colorado, and Montezuma Creek became a little trying after ten years, and a seven-week leave of absence found her at Fort Richardson, in Anchorage, Alaska. Before returning to work, Deirdre posted a resume, and soon found herself working with the indigenous peoples in the 49th state for one year. She said she loved the work, even when she became stranded in some of the more remote areas of Alaska for various reasons.
A year away from UNHS was enough for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, and now she's glad to be back in Montezuma Creek.
"This is a great department. I enjoy working with the Navajo people and my co-workers. I am treated well and I'm glad to be back," Deirdre said in a recent interview.
Deirdre took Horace Greely's advice, left her home in Pennsylvania at the age of 17, and came west to Colorado. She got her Bachelors Degree from Ft. Lewis College in Durango. She spent two semesters at Dine' College in Tsaile, Arizona, where she said she was really a minority for the first time in her life.
"I felt really white," she laughed. "But the students were very welcoming, and they wanted to share their culture."
Young Deirdre Piotrowski was torn between being a creative writer or getting her Masters in Social Work. We're glad she chose the latter.
According to Deirdre, there were a lot of changes at UNHS, during her year away. She said she's glad to see Michael Jensen in the CEO position, after Donna Singer retired. Rick Hendy was hired as the Behavioral Health Director, while she was away. She said he's brought some great skills and the idea of teamwork to the department.
"He (Hendy) speaks to the client and that's our passion, client needs and how to meet those needs," she said.
She said she's glad to be strictly a clinician now, instead of an administrator as she was before she left for Alaska.
"I admire the people in our administration," she added. "They get grants and bring a tremendous energy to UNHS. It's been fun to watch our department grow, especially in a rural area where people struggle."
Next time you see Deirdre, welcome her back. If you don't know her, just look for the orange tennis shoes and the smile. Ironically, the color orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, and encouragement. Seems like a perfect color for Deidre Piotrowski.