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R.T. Rybak: A Great Leader for a Great City Volunteer Contribute

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Day in the Life: Feb. 15

A couple events today that celebrate the great people who work for the city.

The first was this afternoon, a reception I held to celebrate my appointment of Gretchen Musicant to lead our Health Department.
Gretchen is a really rare public servant. She can see the big picture, but I've also observed that she is a very effective listener. We need both right now as we chart a course for our Health Department in a period of time when the state and federal governments are making drastic cutbacks for human service programs. She will have to help us as elected officials see ways to develop new partnerships to get the services to those most in need.....She will also have to hear very clearly what needs we have in the community. She and Ken Dahl and the rest of the staff won't have an easy job but I'm looking very forward to working with her, and them.

During the reception I spoke with a number of people who work at the community clinics we operate in city schools. They provide a very important service, and told wonderful stories about how these clinics are helping kids get through many challenges, including mental illness. I hear a really heart wrenching story about a girl who came into one of the clinics saying she was short of breath....when they checked her our it became clear she had Lupus. She had no insurance and, as in immigrant struggles with understanding the health care system. During a recent bout in the hospital she got a bill for $32,000....and was now terrified to go to the doctor. The clinic helped her, got her some financial and medical counseling and at least helped her stabilize the situation.. It really showed the need out there and gave me even more respect for the work of Sen. Linda Berglin of Minneapolis who has continued to fight for health care for people in situations like these.

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The second event to celebrate city employees was tonight at the Ukranian Center where there was the annual police awards ceremony. Some real heros doing great work were honored, and, as always at these events, I was really struck by how much support our police get from their families who send them out each day and then find a way to support them when they come home.

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