CHI St. Alexius Health brought on a new Chief Medical Officer on Oct. 1. Ever since she’s been making waves with her community service, new health podcast and, recently, the hospital was ranked a four-star Acute Care Hospital. Today’s remarkable woman is Lisa Laurent, who says her move to North Dakota has the most exciting and life-affirming adventure she’s ever been on.
“I knew I would be joining a team that recognized and celebrated and championed female leaders,” Laurent shared.
Although we sat down to chat, six feet apart, her office is no longer where Laurent spends most of her workday.
She added, “Our lives have been flipped upside-down.”
She’s on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, and this battle takes a village, specifically the group at the CHI St. Alexius Incident Command Center. Laurent may be the Chief Medical Officer, but right now, a more appropriate title is Incident Commander. “I actually am observing, firsthand, a wonderful evolution of how people are coming together. And that, to me, has been one of the biggest success stories of this hospital,” she shared proudly.
Laurent says many of the leaders and department heads at St. Alexius in Bismarck are women.
“And I can think of key women in my life who had a huge impact. So that’s what I want to do in turn for younger women. So when they look out from the community, in, and see our leadership team, that sends a strong message,” she explained. Laurent has been a go-getter since her childhood, outside of Philadelphia.
“I come from a family that stresses giving back to the community, always being a productive member of the community. So when I was 13 years old, my parents encouraged me strongly (which meant I had to do it) to get a job, and I did,” she laughed.
Even after going through medical school, becoming a doctor and running a private radiology practice, the coronavirus response has been her biggest challenge and opportunity for growth yet.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Laurent paused. “Sorry, I get a little emotional when I talk about this. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this.”
But, the distance between her and her husband, who is a surgeon on the frontlines near Chicago, is the hardest part. “I haven’t seen my husband in a while, and I don’t know when we’ll see each other,” Laurent explained. Missing family more than ever is something so many of us are going through right now.
“It’s harder than I say” she paused to wipe away tears. “It’s harder than I say. Sorry, I’m just human, you know?” Laurent says her job, right now, is to take on this challenge and wear it like a badge of honor, as she continues to work to calm the waters in western North Dakota.
She asks that we all stay home, wash our hands and trust that our medical professionals are here to care for us.
Renee Cooper Reporting