And They Continue Caring for Others in New Civilian Roles
Nearly 200 of NorthBay Healthcare’s 2,600 employees are classified as veterans, and they can be found in every nook and corner of the organization, operating CT scanners and taking X-rays, caring for patients in Labor & Delivery, working in security and sanitizing patient rooms.
They are physical therapists and equipment technicians, accountants and scientists, and they all served our country before coming to NorthBay Healthcare to serve patients and the community. Here are just a few:
Former Loadmaster Keeps Hospitals in Tip-Top Shape
As a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve, Jaime Clemente served as an apprentice loadmaster and a journeyman jet engine mechanic. Today, he oversees 25 Environmental Services staff members who are responsible for ensuring the proper cleaning and disinfection of NorthBay Medical Center. This includes Emergency Department exam rooms, in- patient rooms, operating rooms and cath labs, and the nightly cleaning of most offices in the medical center, as well as the proper disposal of soiled linens; trash; medical, biohazard and hazardous waste; and the use of Tru-D, the ultra violet (UV-C) radiation disinfection system.
Is the work he did in the Air Force different from what he is doing now? “Not really. Paying attention to detail and working in areas most people would not want to work were hallmarks of my life then, and that continues now,” he says with a chuckle.
His first environmental services manager, also an Air Force veteran, hired him because “as a fellow veteran, he said he knew I was well-trained in the ‘art of cleaning things,’” he added.
Lab Director Learned to Embrace Diversity in the Air Force
Jerry Simmers broke the chain when he joined the U.S. Air Force. “My father, grandfathers, brother and brothers-in-law were all coal miners in western Pennsylvania. I didn’t want to work in the coal mines!” So, as soon as he turned 18, he looked to the heights, and achieved them career-wise during his 26-and-a- half-years with the Air Force. He worked his way up through the ranks from chief master sergeant to laboratory technologist, laboratory manager, and to squadron superintendent before becoming laboratory career field manager for the entire Air Force, working for the Air Force Surgeon General.
During his tenure, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology, and a master’s degree in management. He joined NorthBay Healthcare in 2010 as director of Laboratory Services.“One of the best things about the Air Force was the diversity of the people I served with, from different backgrounds and demographics, experiences and perspectives. Embracing those differences built stronger teams and innovations that lead to success for our mission. I’ve found that to be true working at NorthBay, as well.”
From Military Nurse to Military Spouse, Back to Nurse
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ohio State in the mid-90s, Lisa Torgerson joined her husband in the U.S. Air Force —he as a pilot and she as a second lieutenant in the nurse corps. But, a few years later, after she became pregnant, she decided to separate from the Air Force. “We didn’t want both of us deployable with a young family.”
And then 9/11 happened. “My husband was deployed several times, often six months at a time, and that’s when I began my most important service —as a military spouse.” They moved seven times during 20 years and she held down the fort as the family grew to include three children. “I have a lot of respect for military spouses, because I know they serve, too. They are willing to make sacrifices, not only for their country but for their family,” she said.
The Torgerson family settled in Vacaville, and her husband, Jason, retired after 20 years to continue flying with a commercial airline. She returned to nursing, this time with NorthBay Healthcare, in 2014.
“I think I am more sensitive to veterans as people because I, too, served and because I was a military spouse,” she said. “I understand their pride in their service and in their identity as a veteran, especially if they were in the military for a long time.”
Trained Firefighter Ensures NorthBay’s Readiness
The 9/11 attacks played a key role in Sean Zortman’s enlistment to the U.S. Air Force, where he was trained as a firefighter and driver/operator. He served for just over four years, all during Operation Enduring Freedom.
He spent a year in Korea and five months in Kyrgyzstan for overseas assignments, and then started a career in healthcare safety with a civil service position for the Air Force. “As a firefighter I learned about fire protection, fire behavior and prevention, and building fire systems and response training. These are critical factors in fostering a safe
environment of care. And, a background in fire protection lead to studies in occupational safety and health, which
is essential in creating a safe and healthful place of work,” said NorthBay’s Environmental Health and Safety manager.
Additionally, his military experience taught him effective decision-making, as well as “resiliency; respect for rights, dignity and diversity; and self-accountability.”