Throughout the month of March, we are featuring women in the CDA healthcare community who inspire Jen Fletcher and out other staff. Leanne provides kind, compassionate, competent care to the Coeur d’Alene community. Here’s a quick questions and answer with Leanne Rousseau.
1. How long have you been in the healthcare field and tell us a little about what you do now?
Leanne: I have been practicing as a family medicine physician since 1986. After I finished my family medicine residency at University of Utah in Salt Lake City, I did family medicine and worked at a Community Mental Health Center in Wyoming caring for patients with chronic mental illness. We moved to North Idaho in 1990 and I began volunteering at Lake City Health, which is now Heritage Health, when it was a free clinic and also worked for Group Health in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. I have worked for the organization that became Heritage Health since 2003 when we received the federal grant to become a Community Health Center and it was called Dirne Community Health Center. I was the first chief medical officer. I still work for Heritage and now do family medicine and psychiatric medication management.
2. Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the healthcare field?
Leanne: My husband and I had 4 sons and it was always hard to leave them and go to work but they understood the importance of what we did and I think it was important for them to see the contributions that women make in the community in addition to being a mom. The hardest part was in medical school and residency as women, especially moms, were not treated as equals quite often. I remember when my husband had to take our eldest son to work, everyone would dote on them both, but if I did it, it was treated as an inconvenience. I used to have to go hide in the bathroom to pump my milk and then they would throw the milk out of the refrigerator. It wasn’t all bad, there were also many wonderful mentors and teachers. I am in an online women’s physician group and I cringe sometimes at the way women and moms are still treated in some places.
3. What’s your favorite aspect of being part of the CDA healthcare community?
Leanne: My husband and I moved here because of the community spirit of this healthcare community and that has been my favorite part throughout my practice. Having a community health center and a community hospital where everyone works together to help improve the health of our citizens is very special. But, in our county, it isn’t just those entities, it is the community private practices and the many specialists that also contribute. Back when Dirne clinic was still free, all sorts of people would help by donating time, medication, treatments and even surgeries. Even though we have better resources now, the community continues to pull together in all sorts of ways. I hope that can continue.
4. What has changed the most in the past year with your profession?
Leanne: The two biggest things that have changed are first of all, our far more meticulous attention to prevention of spread of disease by wearing masks and screening patients before allowing them into clinic. The other change is the utilization of telehealth. This has been a blessing for folks who have transportation problems or other reasons it is difficult for them to access care. It is difficult when we would very much like to examine a patient or they need hands on care but we are unable to due to restrictions, but for the most part the accessibility of telehealth has been a very positive advancement.
5. What other women inspire you locally?
Leanne: I have a dear friend, Beth Clemmons who has been a nurse in our community longer than I have been a physician and she recently retired. She has been inspirational in her service to community and selfless love of others and she and Crystal Rounds were instrumental in starting the clinic. I am inspired by physician moms in our community are inspirational in their devotion to patient care and raising their kids.