After 30 years of service, Wellness Services Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Executive Medical Director Gerald Wilmes has retired from his positions at Northwest but will remain active in the local, regional and national healthcare.
Wilmes retired from the University Dec. 31, but plans to continue to be a consultant for the Wellness Center in regards to COVID-19 and other medical areas along with working with Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville. He views Northwest as his family but was ready to retire after extending his retirement date when the pandemic began.
“I had been planning to retire, actually, several months ago,” Wilmes said.
Wilmes said he had planned to retire in the summer of 2020, but after discussing with the University, he decided to postpone his retirement to continue aiding the University through the pandemic.
He also noted that he had discussed his retirement with the University for several years since he has been eligible for full retirement for more than eight years.
Wilmes said he was completely fine with postponing his retirement date through mutual agreement with the University, but it was time for him to focus on some other things in life.
“I’ve got kids and grandkids all over the country, and my wife and I, you know, want to travel and support them as well,” Wilmes said.
Even though Wilmes will continue to work in the medical field, he said by retiring, he will have more time to visit with his family and spend some time doing one of his favorite things — participating in recreational activities.
Wilmes said he decided to continue working in the medical field during his retirement because he is so intimately involved with COVID-19 that he is still able to help guide healthcare professionals through the pandemic just as he has done for 30 years at Wellness Services.
Assistant Director of Wellness Services Judy Frueh has worked alongside Wilmes for 24 years and said that she hopes to continue to see him through his consultations with Wellness Services.
“He was a great mentor and I consider him my friend,” Frueh said.
She noted that since Wilmes was the collaborative physician for so long, there will be a bit of an adjustment for the staff as the new collaborating physician, Dr. Sue Watson, begins her work with the Wellness Center.
Frueh said Watson has extensive experience coming into her new role at Wellness Services, but Watson’s primary focus is on mental health.
The assistant director of Wellness Services explained that Watson is employed at Mosaic - Maryville and will continue to see patients there while working at the Wellness Center.
“She’ll see patients as well as be our mentor, again with the nurse practitioners, as well as consulting when we have questions,” Frueh said.
Frueh noted that Watson will consult for more than just mental health cases, but mental health patients will be the bulk of who Watson will see at the Wellness Center, unlike Wilmes who had a focus in general health.
Wilmes said it has been tough to leave Northwest after working for the University for three decades, but he thinks that it is time for him to move on.
“Northwest is family,” Wilmes said. “The Wellness Services team and student affairs and some people that I have worked with for so long; it’s been tough.”