The woman in the stylish blue dress crosses the room, stopping twice to greet people seated in the cafeteria. She chats easily with several volunteers at the front desk. She says hi to a young woman sitting outside the main entrance. Leann Tobin has worked at Montrose Memorial Hospital for just under 30 years. It’s a family to her.
What’s it like to work for the same employer for 30 years? “In 1989 I started in the wellness center and did cardiac rehab with the patients, plus Marketing and Education together,” she said. “I started doing strictly marketing 22 years ago. I’ve had different experiences but I’ve built some incredible relationships, which are very important to me. In Marketing, if I get bored in my job, it’s my own fault. There’s always something new we can do.”
Her job title is Director of Community Engagement, the description of which is to educate the community about the hospital through advertising, radio ads, and social media like Facebook. The hard part of marketing the hospital is that it’s not a place anyone wants to come to, she said.
“We’re fortunate in Montrose in that we’re the only hospital, but on the other hand, if you didn’t have a great experience here, there’s a turnaround that has to happen. How can we recover from that. Sometimes they tell us, sometimes we hear it out and about. Someone posted on FaceBook that they were really upset. Their contact information was there, so we had them come in and talk to us about it.
“We do try. As a human industry, where we have 700 employees, 100 doctors and 100 volunteers, there’s an opportunity to make mistakes, and sometimes we do try to fix that.”
Part of her job is to build relationships in the community, so if someone has a question or concern, she is one of the first places they call. She just set up a career fair with Mrs. Brown at Columbine Middle School, regarding the STEM training (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Mrs. Brown said they had been doing the book learning about these subjects but asked the hospital to send some folks out to talk to them.
Tobin is a Colorado girl through and through, born in Greeley and raised in Lakewood. She attended CSU in Fort Collins and it was there at 20 that she joined the singing and dancing troupe called Up With People. It was a group of international students who traveled the world together. They lived with host families in different countries (similar to exchange students, but staying for short periods of time). They would put on shows every three days or so. Tobin admits humbly to a talent for singing.
They spent three months in Mexico, and even did shows in bull rings. “We saw the richest of the rich. We met the President of Mexico. But then you also stay with the host families and see the poorest of the poor. I had a host family in Mazatlan that had one bed in the house which they gave to me. We went to breakfast and there were about six of them. We sat around the table and I had a plate of papaya and I was the only one who ate.
“What Up with People did for me,” Tobin observed, “was teach me that it’s all about one to one—how we can change the world one person at a time. When I hear about natural disasters in countries where we’d been, I think about it’s people, my host families, or it’s something that we did in our cast while we were.”
After her year was up she went back to CSU, graduating with a degree in exercise and fitness administration. “ My goal was to open up a gymnastics school or a gym. But life got in the way of that plan.”
Tobin had met her future husband Pat Tobin in Up With People. After graduating, they got married and moved to Montrose. They chose Montrose because there is much history here for Pat. His family homesteaded here, and has been here for generations. They have two sons, Bryce, 27, a financial analyst living in Denver, and Dylan,23, studying engineering at CU Denver.
She recently finished two terms on the Montrose School Board. “It was wonderful, and I learned a ton.”
Now that she’s off the School Board, there’s more time for fun. They like to ride ATVs. They love to go out and see the mountains. They have a boat, they call “our happy place. We go out on the boat and sit and float.” They take it to Blue Mesa, and Ridgway State Park.
They recently purchased a renovation house to sell. “It’s Pat’s joy, he loves to build and change.”
Tobin is a community treasure. She’s seen the hospital struggle politically, through local and national economic trials, yet she maintains an equilibrium, a steadiness. She is grounded in her personal family, her work family and and her feet-on-the-ground, “born here” credentials.