by Debbie Shannon

Johnette Gindling’s father died when she was 13 leaving her mother to rear five daughters.  The family bonded deeply, supporting one another but times were tough.

“My mom didn’t work and I thought, ‘you have to be able to support yourself and stand on your own two feet’,” said Gindling, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for Wuesthoff Health System in Rockledge.  “Luckily, I have a husband who supports that and he has allowed me to grow my career.”

Like many individuals from a large family, Gindling developed strong communication skills that paved the way for her present position.

For the past six years, she has worked in marketing and PR for this not-for-profit health system that has 33 different sites throughout the Space Coast, employing 500 total physicians in two different hospital locations.  Wuesthoff is one of the largest health systems in the county, with over 20,000 admissions annually.

Her responsibilities include overseeing the volunteer and auxiliary programs.  She also directs the internal and external communications, media relations, and publishes informational brochures.  “I am also involved in physician relations, where my staff visits their offices to check with them on how ‘things are going’,” she said.

“Strategic planning is another aspect of my job and I work with the senior leadership team to develop and maintain the strategic plan,” added Gindling, who lives in Viera with her husband Mike, a Wells Fargo mortgage officer and two sons, 11 and 12.

Eleven staff members report to her and she divides most of her time between meetings for these areas and implementing the action items.  For instance, five convenience clinics at local Walmart stores are opening, sponsored by Wuesthoff Health System.  “We are busy getting the word out that this is an advantage to the public because they may get sick when their physician’s office is not open,” she said.

Gindling, who was reared in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, graduated from Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana with a B.S. in Communications and a Master’s degree in Communications.

She says her job description at Wuesthoff is vital to the community.  “Our role in this organization is more to educate the consumer on healthcare and help them know what services are available to them,” she said.

Her office works with the school system and county to promote the bike helmet program.  She is also spreading the news about Wuesthoff’s Cardiac Rehab services.  “We schedule educational sessions from time to time and we go out into the community – to churches, libraries and community groups – encouraging consumers to ‘know your numbers’ and discuss heart-related issues,” she said.

Gindling says it is imperative that Wuesthoff advertise and hold these educational sessions because “healthcare needs to be available when people need it.”

“We don’t know when people will need us so we keep our advertising campaigns going, update our websites and design new brochures about new programs on an on-going basis – we never know when someone will tune into us,” she said.

Like most leaders, one of her biggest challenges is keeping all the balls in the air.  “Juggling it all is my biggest challenge and also the thing that motivates me,” said Gindling.  “I never have the opportunity to be bored – there is always something new.”

After she graduated from college in 1986, she went to work for the local YWCA.  In 1989, Parkview Health System recruited her from that position and hired her as a PR/marketing specialist.  She was promoted to Director of Community Relations and during her 11-year tenure the hospital grew from one hospital to six.

“I was at the right place and the right time and fortunate to grow with the system,” she said.  When she realized that her boss was not leaving his position any time soon and her chances of a promotion were nil, she made a decision to grow her career and moved to Longview, Texas to work as the director of marketing for Good Shepherd Health System.  She worked there for over three years then relocated to Brevard County to be near family.

Today, Gindling is on the board of directors for the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Brevard and the Economic Development Commission.  “I enjoy these organizations.  I have an incredible staff and I enjoy my work; and I really believe your team makes or breaks the work you do,” she said.

Gindling says one of the highlights of her job is community feedback.  “There is nothing better than being at an event and having someone say that ‘something was detected early because of information we put out,’ and add, ‘I am going to be ok’.”