Features

Stephanie Westermeier – Trinity Health

Focusing on the legal work at hand

In these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephanie Westermeier doesn’t have to look far to see the devastating impact of coronavirus—both at work and at home.

Stephanie Westermeier – Trinity Health

Stephanie Westermeier | Managing Counsel, Trinity Health & General Counsel, Saint Alphonsus Health System

As the general counsel at the Boise, Idaho-based Saint Alphonsus Health System—a subsidiary of Michigan-based Trinity Health, the sixth largest healthcare system in the country and third largest non-profit—Westermeier says the influx of patients at the Catholic nonprofit has been startling. Added to that is the pain Westermeier has experienced firsthand, with multiple extended family members and friends testing positive—all of whom were in recovery late in 2020.

But growing up as the second youngest of seven children, and drawing from years of legal experience, Westermeier has become adept at juggling responsibilities—and making her voice heard.

Preparedness

When she came to Trinity Health in 2001, Westermeier’s priority was establishing legal operations at Saint Alphonsus. When the health system expanded 10 years later, her focus shifted to creating a new governance structure to oversee it and each of its four hospitals.

As part of both changes, she says relationship-building and communication were crucial.

Stephanie Westermeier – Trinity Health

“We look back to where we came from—nobody can imagine not having our current systems in place,” she says. “Now, more fast-paced issues are coming at us. Nothing on the law school exams would prepare you for this.”

According to Westermeier, even in a pre-COVID world, “disruption” defined much of the healthcare general counsel role. Now, she and her team are triaging a variety of issues with leadership—those related to monitoring the virus’ surge; ensuring adequate staff, space, equipment and supplies; changing regulations pertaining to care and reimbursement for care; and mitigating revenue loss. With COVID-19 care taking precedence, hospitals everywhere have lost income from conducting fewer routine procedures like mammograms.

“We have amazing people working on the front line of these challenges and behind the scenes every day,” Westermeier says, also crediting the unwavering strength of the board and leadership in both good times and bad. “There’s an immense amount of stress, but everyone has risen to the call for the good of our communities. Through empathy and advice we lawyers are making connections with people to help adjust to what the future will look like—whatever that might be.”

Keep calm and carry on

Admittedly, Westermeier is not one to stand idle. In fact, you’ll find her pumping out a 5 a.m. run before her workday, to clear her mind and prepare for the day’s challenges.

Raised in an Idaho household run by “incredible parents with strong faith and work ethics, who lived and learned through tough times,” she says working hard and helping others came naturally. Noticing her keen mind (and that she “always had an opinion”), her father, Erwin Westermeier, suggested a legal career.

Stephanie Westermeier – Trinity Health

Working as paralegal during college, she graduated with a degree in political science and international relations from Boise State University in 1988. From there, she attended the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and graduated with high honors in 1991.

Westermeier’s professional start as an attorney came at Givens Pursley in 1991, where she handled employment defense, healthcare work, medical liability and general litigation. There, she enjoyed 10 years and partnership at one of Boise’s preeminent law firms. During that time, she met Trinity as a client—and found her calling.

“I loved my firm and clients, but Sister Patricia Mulvaney pulled on my heartstrings to join them,” Westermeier recalls. “They really impressed upon me what I could do with my legal skills in this setting. So I decided to give it a try, and it’s proved to be a fulfilling decision.”

Stephanie Westermeier – Trinity Health

One quote that continues to resonate with Westermeier: “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”

The source: None other than Mother Teresa.

Today, this mom of two teenage sons believes it’s a problem-solving community spirit that will pull everyone through. No matter how busy life gets—and despite the challenges of this past year—she still finds time to volunteer: as a board member for the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, an organization committed to help those who suffer from domestic violence; and as a member of the Bishop Kelly High School Foundation board.

“Growing up, my mom told me, ‘Keep your head on straight, tackle what you’ve got to do and ignore the chaos around you. Think things through and then deal with it,’” Westermeier recalls. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve remembered that!”

Published on: January 18, 2021

regions:

categories:

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.

LATEST EDITION

Spring II 2021

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.