Kathryn Lombardo, M.D.


President, Board of Governors Chair and Department of Psychiatry Physician, Olmsted Medical Center

Hometown: Brookings, South Dakota

Age: 53

Family: Husband, Phil; sons, Christopher and Matthew; and daughter-in-law, Nadia

Roots: I grew up in South Dakota. My dad was a physician and had a family practice in Brookings.

A Confident Start: My parents encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. It was never implied that my choices should be based on my gender. As a child, I was with my dad many times when he went to the hospital. I always thought I would be a physician, too. They always supported that.

The Road to OMC: After our oldest son was born, I decided to take a break from medicine. That was a huge decision for my husband and me. Within several months, I began thinking about what I wanted to do instead. The Bureau of Prisons had just opened the Federal Medical Center in Rochester. I worked there for three years as assistant hospital administrator. When I decided to get back into medicine in 1991, I entered a psychiatry residency at Mayo Clinic. I completed it in 1994 and joined Olmsted Medical Center.

Why Psychiatry? I’m with patients all the time, working directly with them and helping them with their treatment plans. I was never really interested in a field that didn’t have a lot of patient contact.

On Being OMC’s First Female President: When women reach a top leadership position, I think it is worthy of note. At OMC, many of our leadership roles are filled by women. But for me the biggest issue is not that they are women. It is instead that they provide capable, competent leadership.

Fresh Opportunities: I’ve always had an interest in leadership and administrative work. I’ve been involved administratively in our organization for many years as a department chair. I love being with my patients. But now as OMC president, I’m working within the organization at a whole new level. We’re growing, building and changing, and that’s exciting.

Top Priorities: We’re looking at how OMC can continue to provide excellent care to our patients and continue to be a good place to work for our employees.

Medicine in SE Minnesota: Working in Rochester is fairly unique. Our patients are used to receiving top-level, coordinated care that you don’t see in many other communities. We communicate between OMC and Mayo Clinic readily. Almost all my patients have primary care physicians. That’s not very common, but it is so important.

Out of Office: Saturdays and after hours, I spend time doing clinical outreach work in nursing homes and making house calls with some of my patients who are terminally ill or who cannot leave home.

Little-Known Talent: For my job at the Federal Medical Center, I had to do security training with the Bureau of Prisons that included self-defense and shooting. I received an award for that. I still have the plaque.

Beyond the Comfort Zone: Our family has been involved in the volunteer organization Appalachian Service Program through Christ United Methodist Church. We traveled to Kentucky on four trips to repair homes with a team of about 40 high school students. We were totally out of our element. It’s a completely different place than Rochester. But we left knowing we made a difference. Engaging kids in something outside of their usual world was powerful.

What Keeps You Here? Rochester has been good to our family. It has provided solid employment for both my husband and me. We had our kids in the public schools, and they enjoyed an excellent education. Plus, in Rochester we have found wonderful, lifelong friends.