A mentor to many, a friend to all
By: Mary Schilder, Neighborcare Health
Connecting with tweens and teenagers can feel like an impossible wall to scale, not true for longtime Wallingford resident, Janet Cady, who is retiring after 43 years working as a nurse and nurse practitioner in community and public health, with most of that time spent supporting young people.
“I like their emerging ability to question, to learn self-care, their curiosity,” said Janet. “They are at that fork in the road where their decisions can have some major life-long consequences…. I wanted to be one of their trusted resources to ask questions and get competent care.”
School-based health trailblazer
Janet served as a medical provider at the first school-based health center in Seattle, which opened at Rainier Beach High School in 1989. By providing health services where young people spend most of their time, school-based health centers help meet students’ various physical, emotional, social and developmental needs. They help students succeed in school and life by encouraging healthy habits and decision-making. The work Janet helped pioneer became a model for the robust school-based health care system in King County today, which serves 10,000 students each year.
For the last 16 years, Janet worked at Neighborcare Health, a non-profit community health center and the largest provider of school-based health in Seattle (and Vashon Island) with clinics in schools throughout the city, including Lincoln High School. As the school-based health medical director, she was integral in building a culture of care and trust that colleagues, parents, students, school staff and leaders depend on.
“Janet has a deep dedication to and heart for children and is a fierce advocate for their needs,” says Neighborcare Health’s chief medical officer, Dr. Meena Mital. “She is a mentor to many and a friend to all.”
At Neighborcare, Janet also led several health care initiatives such as improving well-child care, immunization and diabetes management programs, and strengthening infectious disease prevention.
Slowing down at home in Wallingford
Janet has built a life-long community in Wallingford. In 1987, she and her husband moved to the neighborhood for the convenient location, great parks and nearby friends. They purchased an old fixer-upper with good bones, which Janet considers her personal work of art. She raised a daughter (now 31), and shared her home with her father who was a regular at the Wallingford Senior Center. She’s grateful to have neighbors she adores and a place she feels at home.
Janet says she’ll miss the fulfilling relationships she’s established with coworkers, students and their families, and being that trusted confidant and colleague that brought out the best in her. And she’s ready to slow down, go on a few road trips, take long walks and maybe learn to play the guitar.
The work continues
After the trauma, loss and fear young people endured during the COVID-19 pandemic, Janet feels that school-based services will be even more critical. She’s grateful for the strong, collaborative team of compassionate individuals at Neighborcare Health, who will carry on that important work to which she has dedicated herself. As she steps into retirement, Janet sees it as the biggest compliment that they will continue to meet students where they are, and be a trusted resource to help young people cope, grow and thrive.