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Caring for a Lifetime: Buikema Family Shares Their Providence Stories

The Buikema Family

After enjoying years of success in the technology consulting world, Bill Buikema was exploring new opportunities for himself and his business. He and Providence CEO Rich Schutt had stayed in touch, having been high school and college classmates, and Bill learned that Providence had also entered the technology world.

 “In 2001, we decided to merge the two companies,” Bill said. “It was a great fit.”

Bill wasn’t new to Providence. “I had a long-time understanding of the mission of Providence,” he says. “Family members going back to my mom’s parents were served by Providence, and my mother’s aunt and brother were also at Providence communities. Providence had been part of my family for years.” Bill Buikema

Bill’s understanding of the mission was what made him the right person to help create a vision for how the growth of technology could make a creative revenue stream long-term for the division that would soon be named ProviNET.

After three years, ProviNET had a good base of technology leadership, and Bill started a new chapter in his career at Providence when he joined the Advancement Team. For the next 17 years, Bill dedicated himself to promoting the mission and ministry of Providence. “I felt so connected to it,” he says. “I knew that there was this forgotten generation of aging people that Providence stepped in to serve.”

Bill’s daughter-in-law Michelle Buikema was a nurse looking to work for a compassionate organization, and she also chose Providence. Michelle had dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a child, probably inspired by her own health challenges.

“When I was born, I weighed a pound a half,” Michelle says. “Doctors told my parents that I’d always have health challenges. After beginning life that way and proving everyone wrong, I’ve never let anything get in my way.”

After joining the Providence team, she immediately understood why Bill spoke so highly of Providence. She served in various facility and leadership roles for Providence.  It was during this time that the then-Vice President of Clinical Services, Mary Kay Kacmarek, recognized her passion for nursing, encouraging her to continue her education and pursue her master’s degree.  She’s proud of the work she did during that time and the  clinical programs she worked on to advance the knowledge and skills of Providence nurses. Michelle Buikema

For the Buikema family,  the need for quality care became most apparent when Bill’s wife Debbie needed hospice care. “Providence Hospice served her, and all of us, in such a beautiful way,” Bill says. “These caring angels came to us at such a vulnerable, hard time and just carried us through.”

Michelle began working in the hospice program herself, and she and Mary Kay started Providence Hospice’s Palliative Care program in Illinois. Later, Michelle also worked to build Indiana’s Palliative Care program. She remains dedicated to striving to “doing better” in healthcare. Michelle now serves as a Nurse Practitioner for Providence Hospice.

“Michelle is a remarkable person,” Bill says. “I’m so proud of her. She knows our mission, what it means and why we do it. It’s so satisfying to know that the family connection to the ministry is carried into the next generation.”

For Michelle, the faith component makes the biggest difference for the work she does. “For me, it’s just knowing that we can be expressive with our faith,” she says. “The faith piece is huge. It’s a big part of who we are as a family. It speaks volumes to the care that Providence provides.”

To date the Buikemas have had eight relatives served by Providence, and they both feel it was a blessing and comfort to be confident in the care each person received, but also to know that the work they do promotes care they trust.

“It’s such an added peace of mind that people are getting the care they deserve,” Michelle says. “Yes, Providence has served my actual family. But I treat each person as if they are part of my family, too. That’s the Providence difference.”





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