By Starrla Cray
Working at St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted the past 50 years, Mary Ann Baumann has known joy, laughter, love, change, and heartache and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m still proud to be here,” Baumann said. “There isn’t a day I don’t think about St. Mary’s and the people here. Even when I’m not working, I’ll wonder what’s going on.”
Baumann, whose anniversary date is Sunday, Oct. 22, serves as a trained medical assistant (TMA). She describes St. Mary’s as a truly “interesting place.”
“We’ve got some really great people working here,” she said. “I think the people here get taken care of better than anyplace else. The staff really goes the extra mile. . . I see that time after time.”
Baumann had a similar impression many years ago, when she was a student at Holy Trinity School in Winsted.
“I think I was in sixth or seventh grade when they took us there to visit,” Baumann said. “I remember walking through with our class I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I don’t know why. There was something about it.”
One aspect that stood out was the kind, caring atmosphere. Baumann remembers thinking “this must be what it’s like to have a grandma.”
In high school, Baumann was one of several teens who worked as dietary aides at St. Mary’s. After graduation, she was offered a job with another Benedictine Health System facility in the Twin Cities, but as the time to leave drew closer, she decided to stay in Winsted.
“I liked working here it was home,” she said.
Baumann said she has no regrets about staying at St. Mary’s the past 50 years, and considers herself “one of the lucky ones” who loves her job.
She served as a nurse’s aide her first five years, and then took classes to become a TMA. In this role, her duties include administering medication, assisting with treatments, and helping with doctor’s appointments.
Years ago, everything was documented on paper instead of on the computer, and Baumann said “the charts were like Bibles, they were so heavy to carry around.”
As technology advanced, Baumann was open to learning new ways and enhancing her skills. She attributes much of her success to good managers who helped along the way.
“You learn from every single person you work with,” she said.
One of the “heartbreaking” parts of Baumann’s job was seeing the hospital close in 1989.
“This side of the building was empty for many years,” Baumann said.
Today, St. Mary’s offers short-term rehab, long-term care, independent and assisted living, and memory care. Many nurses are employed at St. Mary’s, and Baumann said it has been wonderful to work with them. She’s also enjoyed seeing young women start out at St. Mary’s in various positions, and later advance their careers at other places.
“There isn’t a time when I’ve gone to [Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia] that I don’t recognize one of the nurses,” she said.
Building relationships with coworkers has been a highlight of Baumann’s career.
“I sure find a lot of happiness working with the young girls here,” she said.
Getting to know the residents is another joy, and Baumann said the conversations she overhears can be quite entertaining. She’s also seen sadness, though, usually from residents’ family members when their loved ones don’t have much time left.
“You see both sides of life,” she said. “It’s sometimes very, very hard. Yet, at the same token, it’s really rewarding.”
Baumann said St. Mary’s greatly appreciates the community of Winsted, and all the support businesses, organizations, and individuals give on a regular basis.
“It’s the town that keeps us going,” she said. “[Volunteers and contributors] might think it’s a little thing, but it’s a pretty big thing when you add it all up.”