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Celebrating the women who helped build our organization

Kristen Roy talks to five employees who have dedicated a combined 228 years to Asante and to health care.


As Asante celebrates Women’s History Month, ABIDE wants to honor some of the women who serve Asante. We talked to five employees who, together, have given a combined 228 years of dedicated service to Asante.

I am so happy I was able to connect with these women in a different way and honor their contributions. Four of the five featured below were new faces for me; my first interaction with them was for this interview. They were witty, kind and insightful. It was wonderful to hear their passion for their career and learn some of their challenges along the way. I am blown away by their commitment to Asante and the changes they have endured.

Technology may have evolved, but it’s clear to me that their commitment to the patients and the community has not changed over time. Each woman showed their unwavering commitment to Asante’s Mission, Vision and Values. I am so proud to be surrounded by the people featured below. It was an honor to share a bit of time with each of them.

Theresa Peplinksi
Theresa Peplinski, FNP

Nurse practitioner, Asante Employee Health
Length of service: 35 years

Her Asante journey

I moved to Medford in 1988 and was hired into the ICU at Rogue on May 8, 1988. I stayed with ICU for roughly 22 years and eventually transitioned to work in the ED, which was a good shift in work to help challenge me to learn new things. I was in the ED for three or four years.

During that time I was going to FNP school. I am thankful for Asante and the tuition reimbursement program that allowed me to go to school. I then transitioned to the Behavioral Health Unit while working as an RN and moved to on-call as I took a position as an NP at Community Health. I came back as a full-time employee and an NP in Employee Health and have been here since December 2014.

A lasting Asante memory

The whole experience of working for Asante and being so accepted to different experiences and transitioning to different roles has been wonderful. People are so accepting, nurturing and open to training. The culture has been such a great experience.

Shout-out to other Asante women

Pam Miller is so excellent to work with. Geneva Craig is wonderful and being around her makes you want to be a better person. Sue Kline in the Wound Center and our supervisor, Kirstie Hendricks. We have such great quality women in our department that we can leverage.

Advice she’d give to women

Try to stay integrated and never think you’ve arrived. Look for ways to better yourself and education opportunities and see what you can do to learn more and reach for the next thing that is out there. I think that also helps keep burnout at bay.

HendersonPatricia Henderson

Cardio/Neuro technician, Cardiopulmonary, ATRMC
Length of service: 50 years

Her Asante journey

I started on Jan. 29, 1973. Prior to working at Asante I had no medical background. I babysat for someone who worked at Asante and mentioned that I should apply as an aide. I knocked at the door for three months before finally getting the job. I love the job, it continues to be interesting due to the changes in technology and health care in general over the years.

A lasting Asante memory

I enjoy watching how the organization has grown and changed over the years and I enjoy how the patients appreciate my ability to make them feel more comfortable during hard times.

Shout-out to other Asante women

Laura McLaughlin is amazing to work with and is proactive with taking care of our needs as staff members.

Advice she’d give to women

Do not be discouraged or limit yourself in your abilities. Power through and know you can do more than you think you can.
Take your time. Learn as much as you can. You learn more on the floor than you do from the books.

Toni Bartling
Toni Bartling

Asante Payer Contracting Program manager
Unofficial title: Asante historian
Length of service: 48 years

Her Asante journey

I started on Sept. 8, 1970, and worked my way up from receptionist to office manager for a local primary care clinic. Rogue Valley Memorial Hospital decided to open a primary care office, which included the office I worked in. During the merger, I was moved to the manager of the billing office in 1993.

In 1997, I was approached regarding a role in payer contracts. Even though I didn’t have experience, I knew how to operationalize the contracts that were being signed. I have been in payer contracting ever since.

A lasting Asante memory

I have not had any bad experiences at Asante, and I am very thankful for my husband who was self-employed when I had my daughter. We were able to share child care duties and put our daughter in the Asante day care. On my lunches I would go have lunch with my daughter. I have formed many friendships along the years, especially with the health plans.

Shout-out to other Asante women

Tonya Richner, Carrie Winner and Bev Wright. We have all worked together for many years and I enjoy their company.

Advice she’d give to women

Health care always changes and sometimes you need to go with the flow. Sometimes it may not be to your liking. Ensure you have good support with other leaders and co-workers. Push yourself to do challenging things that put you out of your comfort zone.

GibsonDebbie Gibson

Business office specialist
Length of service: 46 years

Her Asante journey

I am so very thankful for my 46 years with Asante. I’ve worked with so many wonderful people who have blessed me and loved me along the way.
I was hired in 1976 to be a switchboard operator. I worked part-time and graveyard.

Then I went to full-time hours in the cashier’s office. There I worked as a patient account auditor. It’s at this job that I started what I call my heart song job — working directly with the patients and their families explaining their bills and care. I had so many chances to listen to their stories and become a small part of what they were dealing with. I was the lucky one.

Our office then moved from Barnett Road down to Main Street. We were open to the public and I continued working directly with our patients and families. If I could create a perfect circle of patient care it would be that we would continue to meet with them face-to-face. It provides a connection and trust that is hard to get through email and over the phone.

After 43 years I decided to go down to three days a week. I don’t want to retire as I love what I do. I work with people I care about and am proud of the organization I work for. I don’t think there could have been a better way to spend 46 years.

A lasting Asante memory

I remember a gentleman who walked into our office when we were downtown. He came into the front door red-faced and yelling with a paper in his hand. I did not work at the front desk but I heard him. He was angry over the total cost Asante was billing him. At that time, my job was to explain charges and prices.

We both went into our consultation room. I hesitated to close the door behind us but I did out of respect for him. We sat and I listened. For a long time that was all I did. There was a lot more than just the total on his bill. His wife, who he had been with for many years, had died. He was just so mad and so very sad she was gone. I helped him understand his bill and how we could help him with the balance. We walked out of the office together. He shook my hand and thanked me, but I remember feeling like I was the lucky one to have sat down with him.

Shout-out to other Asante women

Jessica Dunn, Patient Financial Services supervisor, has made a tremendous difference for our department. She changed the handling of our electronic posting of our payments, which is allowing us to post our highest month end dollars. She re-wrote the patient credit workflow and the department now has increased personal payment posting and incoming calls to its highest amounts. Jessica worked with the Patient Financial Specialists group to review and rewrite each workflow. She has great vision for our department. She is an asset.

Advice she’d give to women

Always be a part of something more. What I mean is make time to fellowship with a co-worker when not at work. Try to get involved with a group of your co-workers to do a fundraiser for a needy family. See if you can get a few of your work friends involved in a community cleanup day. Always celebrate someone’s retirement at an after-work party. Make your relationship with your co-workers stronger by investing yourself. It makes your work hours much better and stronger. Women need that quiet strength from other women.

Kathleen Agosta

Registered nurse, ATRMC
Length of service: 49 years

Her Asante journey

I have worked my entire RN career in Med-Surg, where I have been happy as a clam. I tried discharge planning for a brief period but it was so stressful. I am a worker bee and love to take care of patients. I remember the days when there were only two nurses in the entire hospital and we had to run down to the ED to triage patients.

Things have changed so much. We seemed to keep patients longer before, too. Now, we really try to get them out as soon as they are ready. It’s amazing that a patient can go home the same day as a hip surgery.

A lasting Asante memory

I loved when we had a dedicated room on our floor for patients’ families, so doctors and nurses could give updates in a more private way. It was nice to be able to connect with one another and the families, especially when delivering difficult news. I miss that space where we could connect.

Shout-out to other Asante women

I really like my current manager, Gina McConnell. She listens to all of us and tries very hard to communicate effectively.

Advice she’d give to women

Take your time. Learn as much as you can. You learn more on the floor than you do from the books.

What is ABIDE?

After the civil unrest in summer 2020, it became apparent that America — and Asante — must do more to promote social justice and try to eliminate biases. The result was the Asante Belonging, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee (formerly EDI).

The team of employees and leaders is focusing on employee engagement, patient engagement, community outreach, policy management, employee and leadership development, and communications.

The intent of the work not only is to embrace diversity at Asante, but to recognize our commonalities. If you are interested in this work, email us with your comments and suggestions.

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If you need answers for a personal work matter, please contact the author or department directly instead of leaving a comment.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • What happened to the private consult rooms on floors and Asante day care? Are they going to come back?

  • Richard Thomas
    April 4, 2023 3:55 pm

    To Toni: is there a place where we can see old photos and other items from the history of Asante?

  • Linda Durango
    April 6, 2023 7:59 am

    Loved reading this – great article showing some history of Asante while celebrating these inspiring women!


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