As CEO of NorthShore Healthcare Centers, Jan Wilson has put her life in the spotlight by helping the people of Portage find access to health care, even when they may not be able to afford it.
Wilson has known she wanted to be a nurse since childhood.
"At first it was because my aunt was a nurse, and I really liked her and people said that I looked like her. I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to be a nurse because of her," Wilson said. "Then later in life, when I was 20, my grandmother was dying and I stayed with her to help with her care, and so I just decided then that I wanted to be a nurse and I went to school."
Wilson holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Science in Health Administration. She began her medical career as a Health Services Director and nurse for the Portage Township Schools, which she did for 15 years.
“I loved it. I was pretty autonomous," Wilson said. "We did health things with teachers, health things with kids, education for teachers and education for kids. There was a lot of interaction with the school system and with parents. You know, helping parents.”
In fact, it was through her job helping families of Portage that Wilson realized the need for more medical attention facilities in the town.
"Not everyone was as fortunate as the next guy. Healthcare is a big issue, and it’s not only that you don’t have insurance, it might be that you don’t have access," Wilson said. "Like, you work in Chicago and you get home at 5:00 and you have a child who’s sick and needs medication by the next day. The doctor’s office is closed, the health department is closed. What are you supposed to do? You might not be able to miss work. I think that I realized early on that that’s why we have [NorthShore] Urgent Care.”
Urgent Care, a sect of NorthShore, is open for immediate care of minor ailments. Wilson helped create NorthShore, and the skill she brought to the table helped give her the job of CEO.
Urgent Care is only a part of Wilson's responsibility. She takes care of all NorthShore to make sure all operations are running smoothly.
“I have people under me than I can delegate things to that ultimately, are all my job," Wilson said. "Plus, dealing with the public, signing contracts, negotiating, planning for the future, you know, ensuring that the quality [of work] is what it’s supposed to be. It's a constant battle.”
Wilson said her favorite part is having interaction with those around her at NorthShore.
“I like people," Wilson said. "I like my staff, I like my patients, and I like it when I can spend time with them.”
However, there is something that Wilson does not experience as often since leaving the schools.
“I think that I miss the kids a little bit because I’m a little distant from them," Wilson said. "I really, really miss the kids."
When she's not working, Wilson enjoys gardening and spending time with her family.