In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 24, 2017

Gone But Not Forgotten: Remembering Sister Generose

By In the Loop

Sister Generose Gervais

A year ago, Mayo Clinic lost a beloved member of its staff, Sister Generose Gervais. Mayo Clinic and other organizations recently marked the one-year anniversary of her passing. 

One year ago, Mayo Clinic said goodbye to Sister Generose Gervais, longtime administrator at Mayo Clinic Hospital – Saint Marys Campus, who passed away at 97. Although she's gone, Sister Generose — also president of the Poverello Foundation and pickle maker extraordinaire — is far from forgotten at Mayo Clinic. Her presence is keenly felt in the place she lived and served for decades, and her words remain a touchstone to staff.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Sister Generose's passing, a rosary was said in the Saint Marys Hospital Chapel, followed by a mass dedicated in her honor. Her portrait was placed on the altar; a rose set on the pew she so faithfully occupied in life.

Mayo Clinic was not the only organization to observe the anniversary. Saint Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota, hosted a symposium, Meaning and Purpose in Medicine, in Sister Generose's honor. And the Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, of which she was a life fellow, recognized Sister Generose's contributions to the field of health care management by naming its 2017 Regent's award in her memory.

"It was felt the award should be named after a colleague that exemplified outstanding values, demonstrated noteworthy leadership, contributed broadly to the healthcare administration field, and placed the needs of others before their own," Steve Waldhoff tells us. (Check, check, check and check.)

Waldhoff, an associate administrator at Mayo Clinic Health System, shared a bit of Sister Generose's legacy before presenting the award on behalf of Mayo Clinic. Sister Generose "was truly dedicated to serving the full needs of patients and staff alike, body, mind and spirit," Waldhoff told those assembled at the Oct. 9 event. He remarked on her open-door policy for staff and patients, noting that Sister Generose's office "was a full-service stop, offering everything from spiritual guidance to peanut M&Ms." Waldhoff went on to say that Sister Generose "truly lived her life as an example all of us in this industry should strive to emulate."

It's an example Waldhoff himself has tried to follow since he joined Mayo Clinic 34 years ago. "I met Sister Generose on my first day of Mayo Clinic new employee orientation," he tells us. "She stressed the importance of being a servant leader, meeting the needs of patients, and being a responsible financial steward," Waldhoff says. "She was truly an inspirational leader."

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Tags: Employee Stories, Poverello Fund, Sister Generose Gervais

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