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St. Rose says goodbye to Klinge
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Mary Klinge is retiring after 42 years in the medical industry. A reception is planned from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, in the St. Rose Atrium. - photo by file photo

From typewriters and carbon paper to prescriptions ordered on iPads, Mary Klinge has seen it all. But St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center will have to continue with its electronic-health-records advancements without her.

Klinge has chosen to retire after 42 years of service; Dec. 30 was her last day. A reception is planned for 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4 in the St. Rose atrium.

While Klinge’s most current title is executive director of mission integration, she spent most of her career in medical records.

"When I started in 1969, Medicare had been in effect only three years," Klinge recalled. "We were learning about all those regulations, as well as those from the state. And, of course, all the records were on paper. I certainly haven’t missed making corrections on multiple copies of documents that we typed with carbon paper."

Over the years, Klinge worked at both Central Kansas Medical Center and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, which were sister facilities in the Catholic Health Initiatives family. CKMC’s name was changed to St. Rose last May and SJMH was transferred to Pawnee County.

She attended Kansas Newman University in Wichita and graduated from College of St. Mary in Omaha with a bachelor’s in medical record administration in 1969. After her graduation she had a few job offers in larger cities but chose to come to Great Bend.

In addition to medical records, Klinge also used her education and skills to work in quality assurance, risk management, compliance, patient planning services and medical staff credentialing. Her most recent title, however, is one of the more rewarding.

"In ‘mission integration,’ we take our facility’s mission and make it come alive for patients and employees," Klinge said. "We are a faith-based organization that gives back to the community, keeping the mission alive."

A few examples of giving back to the entire community are the free flu-shot clinic, Food Bank drive, and sharing health-care information at the Women’s Expo and Sixth-Grade Health Fair.

"It is part of our mission to serve all people," Klinge noted. "And there is charity care for those who qualify."

The continuing partnership with the Dominican Sisters has been crucial at St. Rose, she said. "Even though the Sisters no longer own the facility, we maintain a very close relationship with them. They have been vital to our legacy and will continue being our partner in the future.

"New employees go to the convent for orientation and to learn about our heritage," she added. "The Sisters continue to participate in how we carry out our mission by donating time and money to activities such as the flu-shot clinic."

In addition to "taking a little time to re-group," Klinge said she can now be more faithful to her church, civic and social organizations. She will continue serving on the Dominican Associates Council of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, as well as the Pastoral Council in her parish. Klinge also will be able to spend more time on craft shows, scrapbooking and Beta Sigma Phi activities.

"But I cannot tell you how much I am going to miss these people here at St. Rose," she commented. "It is not going to be easy to just walk out that door. This great career has been such a part of my life.

"I always prayed for the wisdom to know when the time was right. This is the time."