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Jonna Pestka, social services manager, looks forward to celebrating 25 years at Rogers

05/01/24 12:00:pm

Jonna in story.JPGEver since high school, Jonna Pestka says she knew she wanted to work in the behavioral health field.

“I really have a passion for working with people with substance use disorders,” Jonna says. “If I were to return to being a full-time clinician, I would work with women who have the disorder. It’s fulfilling to see people take their lives back.”

As social services manager in Oconomowoc, Jonna, LCSW, CSAC, ICS, primarily manages the residential float team of approximately 30 people.

“The first priority is to assure that sick calls, PTO, FMLAs are covered so residents receive consistent, ongoing care while their primary therapists and behavior specialists are away,” she explains. “I am a client’s rights specialist for the Oconomowoc campus, so I find ways to help residents who are not satisfied with their care in the moment. I have the privilege of consulting on difficult cases, complex discharge planning, Child Protective Services reporting challenges, and ethical dilemmas. I’ve been part of the emotional debriefing team for most of my time at Rogers, and I’m honored to help teams across the System process and cope with tragic situations.”

Rogers’ Emotional Debriefing Team can provide immediate support to teams following a critical incident such as a patient death. The team can offer a debriefing session, typically one hour long and within a few days of the incident, to confidentially allow team members to work through the tough emotions that can come with these tragic occurrences.

Additionally, Jonna provides clinical supervision for social workers and licensed professional counselors advancing in their licensure, including substance use certification.

“I get to do so many things each day,” she says. “It keeps it fun and challenging.”

This July, Jonna will be celebrating 25 years with Rogers.

“Every day is something new to work through,” she says. “I love my team. They’re awesome. I’ve never worked with a group that is so flexible and supportive of each other and keeps their focus on meeting the needs of the residential programs. On the fun side, we might be a little competitive. We love to win!”

Prior to Rogers, Jonna was working as a director of outpatient services in Milwaukee and practicing therapist when she received a call from someone at Rogers asking if she would consider joining the organization.

“Things were not looking great on the near horizon for the organization I was working for,” she shares. “I was asked if I would consider interviewing for a position of social services manager and leading the PHP level of care in Oconomowoc. At that time, the PHPs were designed around Child Protective Services. Rogers wanted an improved alignment with managed care concepts and new treatment models which felt like an exciting opportunity to learn and grow.”

Jonna says Rogers has always impressed her in many ways.

“We’re a very transparent organization and very good with change,” she says. “We’re on the cutting edge of treatment. In all my years, I believe we’ve worked hard to keep the patient in the center of our work, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Getting to know Jonna

Jonna family.jpgJonna and her husband Gary have been married for 27 years. They live in Oconomowoc with their two dogs: Kochee, a two-year-old mini-Bernedoodle, and Arlo, an 8-year-old standard English Goldendoodle. Their 25-year-son, Will lives in the area, and they are happy to spend time with him.

Jonna dogs.jpgOne fun fact about Jonna is she’s fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing in a classic rock band. They’re called the “Back Bay Band” and play rock music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They play in the Oconomowoc area as often as they can since all the members have day jobs. One of their upcoming gigs is during the Summer Concert Series at Bentzin Family Town Square in Watertown on September 14.

When Jonna isn’t rocking out, she’s tending to her perennials and thinking about a return trip to Hawaii since they thoroughly enjoyed their visit last year.

Jonna shares some memories from her 25 years

“My first office at Rogers was South Cottage, where Dr. and Mrs. Rogers had lived, which was really rather a privilege. However, I was put in a very small, converted bathroom with the piping still in the floor. My office has been upgraded since then! The building had many stories, and some of them were spooky.

“I recall when they tore it down and the gardener dug up old flowers and found rose bushes that Mrs. Rogers had planted. She loved bringing them back to life, and they are in the garden outside of the OCD and Anxiety Center building to this day.

“It was fun to watch the old buildings get refurbished and new ones get built as we grew to offer more services.

“I am very proud of the work that Ruth Lepien Muller, Marketing education and events lead, and I did to be awarded national accreditation from Approved Continuing Education (Social Work) and National Board of Certified Counselors (Professional Counselors) that allows us to offer free continuing education (CE) credits to our therapists system-wide. That fulfilled a request and need from our therapists. We knew we had great talent here at Rogers to tap into to provide this high-quality, ongoing education. It became a labor of love. Today, we can offer our national webinar series and many others for CEs. Our goal has been to provide as close to 30 CEs each two-year period as we can for our staff.

“About six years ago, I had the opportunity to move to the residential side of Rogers to build a team from the ground up known as the “float team” to assure coverage when the core team members were out. We started with two behavior specialists and one therapist for 12 programs. Today, we have 10 therapists and seven behavior specialists in addition to numerous pool staff. I’m very proud of the work this team does.”

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