Julie Yendrek, Administrative Director, HIV Care and Prevention Program

This Staff Spotlight is part of a series dedicated to those employees who continue to shine as we navigate through the challenging times of the pandemic. As much of the world was shut down, SMPH staff shifted gears to adapt to the many barriers that prevented business as usual. The featured employees were nominated by their colleagues because they exemplified the Building Community Shared Values of SMPH throughout this hectic time. We will share a different profile every other week through November.

Julie Yendrek is the Administrative Director for the HIV Care and Prevention Program in the Department of Medicine.

What is your role?
I am the Administrative Director for the HIV Care and Prevention Program, which is based in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Disease. We serve over 1,000 clients per year. There are 55 SMPH and UW Health employees who have some role in the HIV program. In addition to providing excellent clinical care, the HIV program focuses on helping clients to engage in medical care by addressing barriers such as mental health, substance use, housing instability, food insecurity, lack of insurance, health literacy, and transportation barriers.  I am primarily responsible for providing grant, fiscal, and administrative leadership for the program. We receive federal grant funding and have access to the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program. The 340B program is administratively complex but has transformed our program over the past few years by allowing us to expand our services.  I have worked in the field of HIV since 2002, and it has been very rewarding to be a part of national and local efforts that are making a huge difference in individual lives as well as the community at large. The development of highly effective HIV medications has transformed HIV care over the past 30 years from a terminal illness into a chronic condition that can be managed if you are able to access health care. In addition, people with HIV who take these medications achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load that cannot sexually transmit HIV to others. People with HIV can also have healthy babies that are HIV-negative. If you are at increased risk for HIV, you can take one pill once a day that is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission: this is commonly referred to as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). So there is a lot of hope that with the tools we now have available, we will be able to end the HIV epidemic.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I work closely with the other four HIV administrative and outreach staff who are based on the SMPH side of our program. I collaborate closely with the HIV program’s Principal Investigator/Medical Director, Dr. James Sosman, and the clinical staff and leadership on the UW Health side of our program. I usually spend a couple of hours each day on various phone calls and meetings, talking through new initiatives, programmatic questions, and grant requirements. I also do focused work related to grant proposals and reports, communicating with grant sponsors, managing subcontracts, coordinating data sharing, and reviewing patient medical care costs.

What is your workplace superpower?
I’m analytical and can see a problem from multiple perspectives. This helps me to tailor my communication or recommendations to help find efficient and acceptable solutions.

Tell us something that your coworkers don’t know about you.
I have six siblings – four sisters and two brothers – and I’m the second youngest. I think this helped me develop my ability to see things from multiple perspectives and prepared me for working in a highly collaborative setting.

What book can you recommend to your SMPH colleagues?
I enjoyed reading The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey. This is a non-fiction book about enormous ocean waves and how humans have been and continue to be impacted by them. It gives you a bit of armchair travel, natural disaster, history, and science all in one book.

What is your favorite place to visit in Madison?
I love being outside and have been enjoying Dane County parks this past year, but especially the Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton. I enjoy walking up to the top of Fredrick’s Hill in the evening and taking in the views. It is one of the quieter spots in the Madison area.

What is something personal on your desk?
I have a smooth white stone I collected from a beach in Washington state. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand and I often pick it up to de-stress or keep from fidgeting when I’m in a virtual meeting. I love visiting the ocean and it reminds me of being there.

From the nominators:

Helen Tsotsis
Julie has gone above and beyond during the pandemic – as always. She has ensured that we have the resources needed to work from home, even delivering monitors to our homes herself! She communicates extremely well and has ensured that we are and feel supported remotely, and that we all take care of ourselves. She also continually pushes our program to do more for our patients, establishing a robust method to get patients emergency supplies (masks, cleaning equipment), phones for establishing telehealth visits, food (grocery cards), and more. She does all of this with a calm and trusting manner.

Department of Medicine
When stay at home orders started, Julie immediately moved to support staff and patients alike. As a supervisor, she quickly developed systems to support successful transition to remote work, including making sure staff had the technology we needed and encouraging self-care as we coped with the new reality. Julie wasted no time addressing urgent needs of patients arising from the pandemic, including finding new ways to alleviate food insecurity and expand patient internet access to enable continued engagement in care via telemedicine. Additionally, she is dedicated to the mission and leads by example. She’s a great supervisor.

– Q&A condensed and edited by Arvette M. White, MBA