Focus on Jodean Baldauf: Ushering the Past into the Future

Behind every successful, smoothly run business is an effective, efficient business manager, which precisely describes Jodean Baldauf, Director of Business Operations for the Division of Nephrology.

From staffing and planning to motivating and leading, Jodean manages an ever-changing number of tasks overseeing both clinical and administrative operations for the division.

Using her background in nursing (BSN from Purdue University, Indiana) and business (MBA from Washington University), Jodean manages a broad range of responsibilities in the division. On the clinical side, Jodean oversees operation of the dialysis centers: Chromalloy, Forest Park, Home Dialysis South, and the new North County Dialysis Center, which just started seeing dialysis patients in February of 2018. In addition, she oversees the inpatient nurse coordinators as well as the Outpatient office (medical assistants and secretaries who support the physicians in the outpatient clinics). On the administration side, she oversees the administrative offices for the nephrology and dialysis areas.

Also involved in the research arm of the division, Jodean is working closely with division faculty members to address reductions in hospital readmissions for end stage renal dialysis patients through a BJH Foundation grant received by Division Chief Dr. Benjamin Humphreys.

Part of a Team

Jodean is quick to point out why she thinks the division runs so well. “The key to our success is that we have a lot of really good, smart, committed people working here. Our managers are all very strong in their areas and work very independently. I may oversee different areas, but they keep things running smoothly. They focus on providing high quality patient care and making sure the day-to-day operations are meeting the needs of our patients, staff and faculty. We have dedicated people who really want the division to run well. It takes everyone working together as a team to be successful.”

While acknowledging that we have had the good fortune to welcome new, experienced, very competent employees to the division in the last few years, Jodean also recognizes the value of the division’s long-term employees. “We have a lot people who have longevity, loyalty, and dedication. Just having that continuity, knowledge and expertise, really enables people to be more effective and efficient. They kind of have that tribal knowledge of knowing how to navigate the system, knowing whom to ask. It doesn’t take them long to get things done or to get the right answers. When you have people who have so much knowledge and experience, it’s hard to lose them.”

Jodean, herself, is one of the employees with a little “longevity”. She has been here for twenty three years. And while Jodean has seen many people come and go in those years, she is excited about the future of the division.

The Division is Expanding

In early 2019, the division will be moving most of its research laboratory space from the Wohl Clinic Building to the 8th floor of the McDonnell Medical Science Building.

“People have been asking for new research space for a long time, so, this is really exciting,” she says. “It’s a different type of layout … kind of like ‘tearing down the walls’! It’s an open, shared model designed to promote more collaboration between the researchers as we continue to grow.”

This is the first big lab renovation with which Jodean has been involved. “We have done some refresh projects over the years on the floors in the Wohl Clinic building with painting, fixing countertops, new ceiling tiles, etc., but this a big deal. I kind of like being involved in construction projects.” Jodean has been working closely with Dr. Humphreys and the researchers because of all the detail involved. “For this project, it takes the involvement of PIs [principle investigators] to dictate what they need. This project has been challenging since my expertise is not research space!”

The new lab space will have bench space and sit-down areas for all the researchers. There will be four separate rooms for tissue culture and one big microscopy room. “We’ll have a cold room, a cryostat microtome room and an equipment room. The PIs will have office space there.” Office Coordinator Virginia Kelly and Department Accounting Assistant Celia Dehn will have an office there. Also on the floor will be lockers, a lounge/lunch area and a conference room.

Once the research space is moved, the plan is to back-fill part of the empty Wohl Clinic space with faculty and staff offices. “We will bring most everybody together. Right now, we are all over the place. Staff in the outpatient office (except for transplant) will come over, as will the billing staff.”

Into the Community

Jodean was also involved in the construction of the North County Dialysis Center. “That was the 5th dialysis unit I have been involved with,” she says. The new center is part of the division’s initiative to expand its services into the metro St. Louis area to better serve our patients.

Jodean Baldauf (center), Director of Operations, WU Nephrology

Both the North County Dialysis center and the Home Dialysis South center are open, bright, fresh units that are meant to be welcoming and have a homey feel to them. Jodean says that plans are underway to give a face-lift to both Chromalloy American Kidney Center and the dialysis center at Forest Park. “We are doing it on a smaller scale. We will be painting, putting in new flooring, new artwork and signage at both of those units,” she says. “We want to bring that welcoming feeling to these units, too. We want them to be relaxing and comfortable, warm and inviting.”

The division’s physician services are also moving into the community. Drs. Brent Miller and Daniel Coyne already see patients in South County. Dr. Seth Goldberg will be starting a clinic there soon to see patients before they go on dialysis.

“In addition, we have a new physician starting in July, who will be practicing in North County and West County. That physician will function more like a private practitioner. Most of our physicians are in an academic setting where they are focusing on clinical, research and teaching. The new faculty member will focus primarily on serving our patients in the community.”

In the past several years, the division’s nephrologists have branched out into the community, seeing patients in at least 20-25 dialysis facilities off the WashU/Barnes campus. This expansion has been successful because patients recognize the Washington University brand and want to continue to see our physicians after being placed on dialysis,” Jodean says. “If we can continue to expand our physician practices into the community, we can continue to grow our practice and build additional dialysis units.”


Another new initiative taking place in the division is the switchover to the Epic electronic medical record system, which will take the place of Allscripts and Compass. All of the physicians and staff who work in the inpatient and outpatient settings (other than dialysis) will be switching to Epic. Outpatient dialysis is not switching at this time, because Epic does not have all the features and attributes that the currently used system has.

Epic will go live in June 2018. “Physicians and staff are currently attending training sessions,” says Jodean. “It is quite an undertaking, because they have to convert all the data from the current systems to EPIC. All the physician schedules, patient demographics, everything … it is a huge undertaking for the University.” And, it is not just our division. All of Wash U – thousands of users – are getting transferred. “They say this will be the largest implementation group that EPIC has brought up at one time.”

It will be a challenge. However, that doesn’t seem to faze Jodean.

“It’s change, and change is hard,” she says. “Unlike many people, I thrive on change! I find it very exciting!”

Down Time

Jodean’s off-hours are just as varied and busy as her work life. An avid traveler, she has been to six of the seven continents and to all but three states in the US. She enjoys golf, cycling, running, painting, gardening, and photography. And, she has a 19-year-old son who is studying at Ohio State.

Jodean plans to eventually make it to Antarctica and the remaining three states – North Dakota, Alaska and New Mexico!