The Importance of Caring – My Journey into Health Care: Ileana Jarecki

By Ashley Strehle Hartman, freelance writer
for Columbus Community Hospital  – Columbus, Nebraska
Published on the Columbus Community Hospital website, January 2020

Ileana Jarecki’s background is in human resources, but as soon as she got her start in health care, she knew she was destined for a job in the field.

Jarecki has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a minor in personnel from the State University of New York, Geneseo State.

She got her first job in health care in 1995 when she was hired as part of a one-year grant program to facilitate a survey in Platte, Colfax, Nance and Boone counties. Back then, the counties did not have a public health department and the survey was to determine the need for one.

At the end of the year, the survey determined that a public health department was needed, the East Central District Health Department was established and Jarecki decided to pursue a career in health care.

“The opportunity to manage the one year grant back in 1995 was my entrance into health care,” she said. “It was obvious that a health care career was something I could have forever. Everyone, at some time in his or her lives, would need health care.”

That same year, Jarecki got a full-time, permanent position at Columbus Community Hospital (CCH) as an employment/benefits coordinator in the human resources department. She worked in human resources at CCH for many years before working at another employer for seven years.

Jarecki returned to CCH in November 2015 as wellness coordinator, a position that operates out of CCH’s Occupational Health Services (OHS).

In her wellness coordinator position, Jarecki helps manage CCH’s wellness initiatives, such as annual wellness screenings; SimplyWell, the online health management system and the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), a lifestyle enrichment program designed to reduce disease risk factors through lifestyle modification.

She also administers workers’ compensation for hospital employees, assists with random drug testing in area schools, and conducts drug and alcohol testing, as needed, for regular OHS customers.

“I love managing, organizing and coordinating programs that help people lead better lives,” Jarecki said.

Though her title is now wellness coordinator, Jarecki also appreciates the fact that, as part of OHS, she is still part of the human resources field.

“Now, as part of the Occupational Health Services, I am part of the human resources world, indirectly, by helping companies’ human resources departments attain their goals of hiring the best and healthiest candidates for their companies,” she said.

For her part, Jarecki is happy to be back at CCH after briefly working for another company. She also appreciates the opportunity to work in health care.

“There is no better industry/career to go into. Health care will never go away,” she said.

Jarecki encouraged people from all career backgrounds to look into a career in health care, since opportunities in the field are not limited to those with medical degrees.

“There is no more rewarding opportunity to help others, no matter if you are a housekeeper, a cook, a nurse, a therapist, an administrator or the CEO,” she said. “All of us make a difference to every person who walks through our doors. Everyone contributes towards the end-result – our patients.”

For more information on Jarecki or CCH’s health and wellness programs, visit