December 2000

Jenny T. Bagen
Her Mission - Makes a Difference!


by Gene BAGEN

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For her entire life, Jenny Salamone Bagen has lived in Western New York and for a good part of that lifetime, she has made a tireless effort to improve the quality of life for people who live there. Born in Buffalo in 1951, Jenny was the sixth of nine children. Growing up in a large family where her mother worked to support the children, Jenny assumed many responsibilities at home to help lighten her mother’s burden.

Jenny grew up to be a self-starter and high achiever, a woman of vision and farsightedness. She has committed herself totally in everything she has undertaken and has always striven to achieve excellence. She is a resourceful woman with a solid work ethic and a great compassion for people and their needs.

Jenny Salamone Bagen was educated in Buffalo. She graduated from Lafayette High School in 1969 and began working right after. She worked for the W.T. Grant store as a bookkeeper until the store closed. She then became a stay at home mother spending her time raising her two children, Norman and Stacy. But as the children grew older, she began to think about returning to the workplace.

Having decided to re-enter the work world, Jenny enrolled at Bryant and Stratton and became a dental hygienist. Following graduation, she worked for a local Orthodontist for several years. She then decided to return to school for nursing enrolling at D’Youville College. She received her B.S.N. degree with honors in December 1983 and was awarded a medal for Nursing Proficiency.

Following graduation, Jenny worked as a staff nurse at Buffalo General Hospital and the Erie County Health Department. She also enrolled in graduate school at D’Youville and received her M.S. degree in Community Health Nursing and Education in December 1989.

In 1990, Jenny left the Health Department to become Program Director at Erie County Medical Center’s AIDS Designated Unit. When she arrived at the Center, AIDS services consisted of a small staff providing primary treatment to patients in cramped quarters. While some research projects were connected with the program, Jenny had a vision of how much more the Center could become. Under her leadership, the Center grew by 300% in staffing. Multi-disciplinary services were incorporated. Women were also targeted and served by the Center and services to meet their unique needs and concerns were developed. Strong relationships were built with community health providers in the AIDS field and patients were provided holistic services to meet their needs.

It was her love for helping people and her concern for her fellow human beings that motivated Jenny in her efforts to develop a state-of-the-art Immuno Deficiency unit at the Medical Center. To this day, that unit continues to reflect her strong influence, progressive insight and compassion for people.

Taking her concern to the next level, Jenny became Executive Director of Benedict House in Buffalo. The House functioned as a residence for people living with AIDS. While there, she contributed significantly to improving the quality of life among the residents. She also played a key role in the acquisition of a new location for the residence that would increase its capacity and broaden its service capabilities.

In 1996 Jenny Bagen left Benedict House to become Director of Women’s Services at Sisters Hospital in Buffalo. While there, she helped occasion significant changes and improvements to enhance services and the quality of care that the Hospital provided to women in our community.

In 2000 Jenny started her own business, J.T. Bagen Enterprises, Inc. Through this company she offers innovative planning services and sexual communication services to corporate and private clients.

Jenny has always been a leading proponent for substantive community education. Realizing the critical need for correct, factual information about various aspects of human sexuality that many people, old and young, in our community needed, she started a weekly radio program, Infomania, which offered frank discussion and answers to listener questions about sexually related issues within a healthcare setting. This program was tremendously received with first place Arbitron Ratings for Western New York.

Today Jenny continues her passion to help and make a difference through her involvement in projects which ultimately benefit the people of this community. With her many years of involvement in the healthcare field, she became acutely of the plight of the uninsured in Western New York. These were often the “working poor” who were too well off to qualify for the benefits provided by the government yet not able to purchase coverage for themselves and their families on their own. Always a visionary who thinks outside the box, Jenny began to strategize how these uninsured people could be helped. With the assistance and guidance of the late Vincent Bonner and his principal of “incentivized participation”, she developed the framework for what has come to be the Uninsured Trust Fund Initiative of Western New York (HealthForAll in Western New York). This initiative now encompasses a coalition of over 75 organizations and more than 300 individual members representing all eight counties of Western New York. This coalition is working together to provide 100% access to healthcare for individuals in WNY who are low income working uninsured who cannot afford health insurance on their own. The initiative has been selected to receive three years funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (one of fifteen projects funded by this Foundation natioanlly) and is supported by a number of local businesses and foundations.

Ms. Bagen is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, at the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Medicine. She also serves on the Boards of Directors of Canaan House, Coordinated Care and the Catholic Health System Natural Family Planning Initiative.

She resides in Colden with her husband, Gene. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys gardening and playing the flute. But most of all, she enjoys helping others. She is never too busy to care. Things most important to her are family, hard work, diligence, honesty and a desire to make a difference in this world. Every facet of her life reflects her great concern for the poor and disenfranchised and her commitment to making things better.



Gene Bagen is Jenny’s husband.

 

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