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Employee Spotlights

Hear from some of the dedicated staff and faculty who work on our campuses in Kansas City, Salina and Wichita.

Our talented workforce includes dedicated professionals in diverse fields, working together to advance KU Medical Center's missions in education, research and health care. Get to know a few of our longest-serving employees below. 

Adelio GonzalezPortrait of Adelio Gonzalez

Title: Grounds Maintenance Worker, Facilities Management
Campus: Kansas City

Adelio Gonzalez, grounds maintenance worker at KU Medical Center, has taken immense pride in beautifying the Kansas City campus for the last 19 years. 

“I wake up and am happy to come to work and make the campus look nice,” said Adelio. “When people see all the colorful flowers and plants, I hope it helps them take their mind off things.”

Whether starting from scratch to brighten up a space, weaving wooden strings on hanging pots to enhance their look, or planting unique plants — including his favorite banana trees — Adelio loves finding creative ways to bring out the beauty around campus.  

After spending nearly two decades at the university, he has several memories and interesting stories to tell. However, the event on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, may top the list. What seemed like an ordinary day turned into a life-saving moment.  

While watering plants at the Olathe Pavillion entrance, Adelio noticed a man in the distance flailing his arms and screaming for help. Without hesitation, he hopped into his cart to see how he could help. When he arrived, the man was lying on the ground in distress and pointing to his heart. Adelio realized he needed to act quickly and lifted the man into the cart. Holding the man up with one arm and driving with the other, Adelio rushed to The University of Kansas Health System Emergency Room, where he dropped him off to receive care.  

Adelio’s heroic efforts, in the words of the person he helped, “saved his life.” While his heroics that day may seem like a one-time event, those who know Adelio or have interacted with him know that he would come to the rescue of others every time. In fact, his coworkers recall watching him help a patient in a wheelchair cross the street the next day. It is just the type of person he is. 

“Adelio is a kindhearted man who is always looking to make things better,” said Eric Tow, assistant director of landscape operations. “We all have different talents and traits that we exhibit, and his strengths come out when they are most needed. He cared enough to get involved with the situation and to make a difference that day.”

Adelio grew up in South America, and in 1986, he moved to the United States. After spending 18 years in New York, he decided to move to Kansas City to be closer to family and has made KU Medical Center his home away from home ever since.  

“This place is my second family down here,” said Adelio. 

No matter what your title is at KU Medical Center, every employee plays a role in contributing to the overall mission: improving lives and communities in Kansas and beyond. Adelio exemplifies just that. Each day he strives to improve the lives of everyone who steps foot on campus by making the grounds look nice and being ready to lend a hand. 

Adelio Gonzalez has worked at KU Medical Center for 19 years.
Adelio (right) stands beside the patient who credits him with saving his life. (Photo courtesy of KU Medical Center Botanic Gardens)

Portrait of Fritz AchenFritz Achen

Title: Director of Employee Engagement, Human Resources
Campus: Kansas City 
Start date: March 11, 1984  

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long? 

KU Medical Center is my family. While my school friends were getting raises, I was avoiding ulcers and learning as much as I wanted. 

In one sentence, describe your time at KU Medical Center.

Learn, help, repeat... 

What is your favorite memory at the medical center?

It was either hosting the weekly Jayhawk Break (5 short years), or watching the woman who would eventually marry me, pushing her bicycle down the hall in Sudler (15 looong seconds). 

How has your role changed during your time at KU Medical Center?

I have had many roles at KU Medical Center, but all of them involved figuring out how to help as many people as I could. 

How have you changed during this time?

I'm two inches shorter and 25 pounds heavier than when I started. My center of gravity is much improved!

Portrait of Bruce Liese

Bruce Liese, Ph.D. 

Title: Professor, Family Medicine and Community Health 
Campus: Kansas City 
Start date: October 10, 1983  

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long?  

Throughout my career, I have had numerous opportunities to visit and observe the inner workings of many similar institutions, and I have never experienced a single one that topped KU Medical Center. We are living proof that an academic medical center can achieve extraordinary clinical, academic and competitive research goals, while also providing a safe, supportive, nurturing interpersonal environment. 

In one sentence, describe your time at KU Medical Center. 

KU Medical Center, and especially the Department of Family Medicine, have provided me with all I have ever needed to fulfill my lifetime clinical, teaching and scholarly career goals. 

What is your favorite memory at the medical center? 

My favorite memories have all involved witnessing the faces of worried, tentative patients be transformed into hopeful, trusting faces as they realize they matter to each and every one of us who provide care to them. 

What other memories would you like to share from your time here? 

When I arrived at the KU Medical Center campus as a first-year faculty member almost forty years ago, we existed in a small, visibly aging complex that needed a whole lot of love and support from the community to get back on its feet. 
In those days, we were so small that I had the very corner office on the first floor of Bell hospital in the Family Medicine Clinic, facing Cambridge Street. Just beyond the large glass windows of my corner office, the visual landscape consisted of 39th Street, the Energy Center, parking garage and not much more. 

Just beyond the energy center was the infamous Jimmy's Jigger tavern, well-known to us as "J Building." (It wasn't uncommon to hear students and colleagues say, "It's Friday, are you attending the meeting at J Building starting at five o'clock?") 

When I was told my time in that big, beautiful corner office was up, I was heartbroken. Little did I know what was ahead. If you had told me then what KU Medical Center was to become, I never would have believed you. 

Portrait of Captain HollandDonald Holland

Title: Police Captain, KU Medical Center Police Department  
Campus: Kansas City 
Start date: August 26, 1974 

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long?  

The main reason I have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long is the people I work for and for the relationships that I have made both internally and externally. I believe that my position was a calling from God to serve others, as a protector, for the patients, students, employees, visitors and staff at the medical center.   

In one sentence, describe your time or experience at KU Medical Center.

I know that change is inevitable, nothing remains the same, buildings, parking lots and people: everything old becomes new. 

How have you (or has your role) changed during your time at KU Medical Center? 

I started my career as a student in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. While attending college, I wanted to become a dietician, but then my career path changed when I was talking with a campus police officer. I decided to apply for a police officer position and was offered a position with the KU Medical Center Police Department. Since then, my career has changed many times, from a police officer to sergeant, detective, lieutenant and currently police captain. 

What are some of your favorite memories at KU Medical Center?  

My career at KU Medical Center is very rewarding, and I feel that it’s a blessing to have served for so many years. I have had many great experiences here, such as working KU men's basketball and football games, including NCAA championship games in Lawrence; meeting Kansas City Chiefs players and Kansas City Royals players; attending VIP functions; visiting with kids and making them honorary police officers and more. 

Portrait of Garold Minns

Garold Minns, M.D.

Title: Dean and Professor of Internal Medicine, KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Campus: Wichita
Start date: July 1, 1980

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long?  

I believe in our mission and owe my medical education to KU Medical Center. So I felt this is one way I could pay back KU Medical Center and the state of Kansas. I grew up in Kansas and many of our family still lives here.

In one sentence, describe your time or experience at KU Medical Center. 

I have valued the opportunities I have been given at KU Medical Center and the ability to contribute to the education of so many talented students.

How has your role changed during your time working at KU Medical Center? 

I've gone from being a junior faculty to dean of one of our regional campuses.

What is your favorite memory of working at KU Medical Center? 

All the great colleagues I have met over the years.

What fun fact would you like to share?

Rita Clifford was one of my instructors in medical school, and she is a great teacher. KU Medical Center was doing interdisciplinary education before it was "cool!” 

Portrait of Sherry BassettSherry Bassett 

Title: Senior Administrative Associate, Department of Radiology
Campus: Kansas City
Start date: March 4, 1981

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long?  

The university has given me the opportunity to learn and grow within the organization. I also enjoy helping people and being part of a team.

In one sentence, describe your time or experience at KU Medical Center. 

My time at the university has been rewarding and fulfilling with many opportunities to grow.

How has your role changed during your time at KU Medical Center? 

Over the years, so many clerical duties have changed for me that I had to learn many new tasks such as doing payroll, purchasing supplies and equipment and working with medical students in the Radiology Clerkship Elective, to name a few.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to do word search puzzles, read books and craft with my grandkids.

Portrait of Donna SweetDonna Sweet

Title: Professor, Internal Medicine, KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Campus: Wichita
Start date: July 1, 1982

What is the main reason you have stayed at KU Medical Center for so long?   

The administration at KU School of Medicine-Wichita has given me the time and freedom to follow my passion of providing HIV care to all. They have allowed me to be involved nationally and internationally in the provision of HIV care and education, which affords our patients and our learners with the latest information and care options at the local level.

In one sentence, describe your time or experience at KU Medical Center. 

I found that I could reach my dreams and goals without moving from my home state.

What is your favorite memory of working at KU Medical Center? 

I have many favorite memories, so it is impossible to choose just one. Wonderful patients, some no longer with me, but many who have been with me for my whole career top the list. Also working with people who are very committed to caring for vulnerable populations is a joy I experience daily.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I still play golf (even though I am not very good anymore) and I thoroughly enjoy it!

Human Resources

Human Resources-KC
3901 Rainbow Blvd
1044 Delp
Kansas City, KS 66160

KU Medical Center-Wichita
Human Resources
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS 67214