MINNEAPOLIS/ST.PAUL — A Slayton native has been named as one of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's Women in Business 2020.

Jennifer Lohse, now a resident of the Twin Cities, graduated from Murray County Central Schools. In her adult life, she became a health care lawyer and was hired by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's leading non-profit addiction treatment provider, in 2014. Lohse serves as both vice president and general counsel (chief legal officer) for the foundation.

"It's been a really fun, really interesting job," said Lohse, who wears many hats in her role at the nonprofit, from managing standards of compliance and medical records/privacy to acting as the corporate secretary for the board of directors.

Mental health

Lohse's job has made her aware of some interesting nuances in the health care field. For example, the federal Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, requires health insurance companies to pay for mental health care.

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"It's exploded access to our services," Lohse explained. "Mental health is a rapidly evolving, necessary part of health care."

Although headquartered in the Twin Cities, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation operates in 17 states, and each state has different laws that govern access to treatment for mental illness and other mental health concerns.

"I don't know if we fully appreciate how wonderful our health care is here in Minnesota," Lohse said.

In her experience with Hazelden Betty Ford, Lohse has noticed that when people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, their overall physical health is affected, too.

"SUD (substance use disorder) and mental illness are diseases of isolation," Lohse explained, noting that an event like the COVID-19 pandemic might make symptoms more acute or apparent in individuals who struggle with their mental health. "We've been able to meet people where they're at."

Like many mental health services, Hazelden Betty Ford has expanded its telehealth program in the advent of the novel coronavirus. In fact, the foundation had a comprehensive program ready within one week of Minnesota's March lockdown order.

"Is virtual care going to be as effective as in-person care? As with many aspects of health care, it depends ... but many patients have had success," Lohse said. While the most effective treatment method varies widely from patient to patient, many have been pleased with the telehealth services offered.

During such as isolating time, it's important for people to have meaningful social connection, Lohse noted, encouraging members of communities to check on each other. Anyone who needs help should reach out as well, without delay, and before a bad habit or low mood becomes "life-ruining," she added.

Women in Business

Being recognized by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal is a great honor for Lohse.

"I'm pleased to be among such accomplished women," she said. "I credit a lot of (my success) to my upbringing.

"I love being from a small town," she added. "I hope I have made Slayton proud."

To area young women who are striving for successful, meaningful careers, Lohse offers this advice: "Find a mentor and be a mentor. I don't know that knew a lawyer growing up, nor did I know what lawyers did. I didn't have a full grasp of what I could do as a career."

Mentorship can be formal or informal, she noted, sharing that in her own life, one of her most influential professional relationships has been with an informal mentor. This person took the time to learn Lohse's values, and when difficult decisions arise, reminds Lohse to stay true to those values.

"Having somebody like that in my life has been amazing," she said.

Being a mentor is important too, she stressed.

"There's a lot you can gain being of service to someone else," Lohse explained. For example, by mentoring others, she learns how to better use the mentors in her life.

Lohse also advises, "Find a way to have a voice." She reflected that she didn't grow comfortable speaking up until after law school.

"I felt like I had to be an expert-level person before I could have an opinion about anything — and you don't," she said. "Your point of view matters."