St. Marys native Jennifer Will has been employed with Wellspan Health System in York for the past 24 years, a career that has provided her with experience in the hospital's oncology unit and more recently as a Case Management Nurse.
Will first took a job at York Hospital in 1986 after graduating from Penn State University with a major in nursing. Over time, York Hospital grew to be a part of the Wellspan Health System.
"I did bedside nursing for a number of years, working on the oncology unit, caring for cancer patients and patients with other medical issues. I was trained to administer chemotherapy as well as to help with management of side effects. I stayed within the Oncology Service Line working in the Outpatient Infusion Room and Radiation Oncology, both of which are outpatient settings," Will explained.
During that time Will also worked as an adjunct professor for the nursing program at York College and worked with nursing students in a hospital setting.
"I really enjoyed the teaching and was able to help establish some innovative ways to enhance their experiences," Will said.
Additionally, for many years throughout her career, she worked part-time so that she could be more involved in her children's lives by volunteering at their schools, taking pictures and assisting in putting yearbooks together, planning classroom parties and chaperoning field trips.
Four years ago, she began working full time as a Case Management Nurse within the York Hospital. The unit she covers is a Medical Resident area, which is responsible for all patients admitted on the Medical Resident service. She noted that York Hospital current has four Medical Resident teams, each consisting of about four physicians in various levels of training.
"My job involves utilization review, looking at levels of care and lengths of stay. Basically, I am helping to manage the patient’s care, but in particular I am helping to address any discharge needs or concerns. The part I enjoy most is the discharge planning. Sometimes it involves arrangements for medications, sometimes it may be substance abuse rehab, sometimes it is a need for oxygen or respiratory equipment," Will said.
She also noted that the job is not without plenty of challenges.
"The challenging side of (managing a patient's care) involves putting multiple pieces together: justifying the patient’s need, finding providers participating with the insurance, in/out-of-state patients, lack of insurance/funds, making sure the patient/family has what they need and the capability to meet their needs. Every patient is different, so even with the same diagnosis and the same payer source, the plan will be different. I often say that the things about my job that drive me crazy are the same things that make it challenging and interesting," Will said.
Jennifer is the daughter of Robert and Margaret Breindel of Center Street in St. Marys. Her siblings and their spouses include Roben (Breindel) and Joe Daghir, Bob and Kelly Breindel, Tony and Jannine Breindel, Russ and Michelle Breindel and Todd and Anne Breindel. She is also the granddaughter of Gene and the late Jenny (Curci) Hyatt and the late John and Loretta (Fritz) Breindel.
On Oct. 11, 1986 she married Randy Will, a native of York. The couple met while attending Penn State University and together have three children: Kayla Rae, John Randall and Kyle Matthew. They are also the proud grandparents of Rachel Lynn, who was born to Kayla in July 2007.
Growing up in St. Marys, Jennifer attended St. Marys Parochial grade school and junior high school.
"Until it was torn down a few years ago, the junior high school (formerly my Dad’s high school) could be seen from our front porch. It was an interesting building, an older building with warped floorboards. Our classrooms were on the first floor and in the basement. There was always a curiosity about the second floor and the chemistry lab that stood alone on the third floor. There was no cafeteria in the junior high. Our recess entailed a walk up the Church Street hill to the grade school for lunch. I still remember the butter and jelly sandwiches and the glass milk bottles," Will said.
One particularly memorable moment for Will occurred in eighth grade, when she won a math award, which was a Webster's dictionary.
"I used that dictionary throughout high school, college and believe it or not, there are still times I use it today," Will said.
Will went on to attend Elk County Christian High School, graduating in 1982.
"When we reached high school, kids from the three Catholic grade schools in St Marys came together as well as kids from Kersey, Johnsonburg and Ridgway. On a recent trip to St. Marys, I found myself snapping pictures of my alma mater and just remembering," Will said.
She progressed on to college at Penn State, spending two semesters studying at the Hershey Medical Center, which is affiliated with Penn State and is part of the nursing curriculum.
"While I was at Penn State, I worked in a work-study job in a small library in the college of Health and Human Development, which is the college in which the nursing major was located. Nursing was a challenging major. In addition to the studying, the time spent preparing for and participating in clinicals left little free time in our schedules. While I cannot name one individual who influenced my career choice, my family’s support and that of my friends made an impact on my success," Will said.
"We also had a frightening experience when my brother, Russ, was diagnosed with meningitis at the age of four. He recuperated well, but afterward, as I researched the disease for a school report, I remember finding it interesting but there was still a lot to be learned about meningitis at that time. Looking back, I think I had a sense that healthcare would always be evolving and I wanted to be a part of that," Will said.
While at Penn State, she also participated in Intramural Volleyball and the Student Nurses Association and enjoyed Penn State football.
Will also remarked that life in York is considerably different than life in St. Marys.
"York is located in south central Pennsylvania, just south of Harrisburg, and is very close to the Maryland border. For me, York is like living in the city compared to living in St. Marys. However, many people who have moved here feel that York is a small town. So, I guess York is a small city. The area is very culturally diverse. We live in the suburbs and have many countries represented in our school district. There are multiple school districts in the area and all are culturally diverse," Will said.
While she is busy with her family and career, Will noted that she tries to return to the St. Marys area at least six times a year to visit her family.