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Dynamic Duos

By Julianne LaSmith

Recent statistics show that relationships between co-workers are on the rise. One of the main reasons is proximity. Americans spend more time at work so it would make sense to seek a “significant other” there. But what about relationships where the involved parties end up working together after they’re a couple?

It seems that the reasons it can be advantageous to work with your spouse; more time together, shared commute, a better understanding of the stress levels in your jobs, shared co-workers, and the ability to multi-task with personal issues; can be the same reasons it isn’t always roses working with your spouse; too much time together, never a chance to be alone, shared stressors, no one to gripe about your spouse with, and arguments following you to work.

I work with 15 married couples. That number seems high until you realize that my employer, Northern Montana Health Care (NMHC) is the largest employer in Havre. So I decided to speak with a few of these couples to get their opinions of working together; the good, the bad and the not-so-ugly!

Amber Ophus first started working for Northern Montana Hospital in 2007 as a phlebotomist. After a year of schooling she came back in 2009 as a Lead Medical Technologist in the Laboratory at NMH. In 2010 she married Garrit Ophus and in 2013 she saw a job listing in Information Systems at NMHC that she felt he would be a good fit for him. Garrit applied for the job and is still working hard at it; having been a key player in the recent computer conversions at NMHC.

Amber & Garrit agree that the best part of working together are the times that they can manage to spend together; lunchtime and breaks. Many couples never get to share a weekday lunch together, but Amber loves that they’re able to do so most days. Although Garrit’s favorite part of sharing lunch with his bride involves her picking up the tab for his lunch.

They both feel that working in the same organization means they have a better grasp of the work that the other does in their job. They share parts of their day with each other and have a deeper understanding of the events, people and issues. They both feel that it’s important to let work stay at work – meaning they try not to let it carry over into their family time. The benefits offered at NMHC work better for the couple also. When our employees receive gifts, they double up – they take home 2 turkeys during holiday time!

Their overlapping schedules allow them to be more present for their two daughters; Lilly, who is 5; and Jaida, who is 2. Garrit takes care of the mornings, and Amber the afternoons. So if they need to discuss schedules for the girls, they do so at lunch. Even though Amber started working at NMHC first, their daughter Lilly refers to the “Hostital” as “Dad’s Work”!

The future looks bright for the both Amber and Garrit at NMHC. We’re glad that Amber took a chance and recommended Garrit to join us. We hope they’re here for years to come.

Differing schedules happen a lot in the healthcare field. Several of the couples I talked to pass like “Ships in the Night” when working opposite shifts. The results seem to be mostly favorable, as childcare, transportation and managing a household can be a little easier to tackle by “dividing and conquering.”

Michelle and Jose Morales are no strangers to working together. They actually met on the job in Florida where they were both residing. Michelle is a CNA – a Certified Nursing Assistant – and works in Long Term Care. Jose was a supervisor for a contracted cleaning company that serviced the facility where Michelle worked. Although they did the correct thing, which was to notify management of their relationship, it didn’t end well. The administrator of the facility was relocated, and the new one chose to take his frustration about Jose’s company out on Michelle.

But they moved on to better pastures with much better results. Michelle moved to Havre in May of 2012 in order to help with her ailing father. Jose followed shortly after. Michelle was already working as a CNA at the Northern Montana Care Center when Jose applied for an opening in the Environmental Services Department here at NMHC and started working in December of 2013.

Although they both work for NMHC, their work areas are different. Michelle’s duties keep in her the Care Center building while Jose is responsible for all of the buildings on the NMHC campus. Occasionally they will both have interactions with the same folks and they feel that their relationship helps them have a better understanding of the circumstances and personalities involved. They enjoy getting each other’s point of view.

Although they are on separate schedules currently; Michelle works nights while Jose works days; they do enjoy an occasional lunch together. Jose feels that they do a good job of compartmentalizing their home life and work life. He likes being able to see each other every day at work as it brings him a sense of calm.

Jose and Michelle make a great couple and are great team members to all of us here at NMHC. We’re glad they came this way.

Wanting your spouse to have a good job is expected. And if someone likes who they work for, it seems natural to want their spouse to work there too.  What better way to ensure that you like your co-workers?

Mellisa Bennett started at NMH working in the pharmacy in 2008. She and her husband, Tim, had moved from the Loma area where they owned and operated a convenience store together. In 2013 she noticed a position open in the Materials Management Department and asked Tim to apply. Tim started his employment with NMHC as a courier and handles deliveries all over the NMHC campus. Mellisa has since switched to the Central Supply Department, so she and Tim are now working for the same manager, just a few doors away from each other.

Tim & Mellisa usually work the same shift and enjoy commuting together. They make lunch together a priority and check in with each other several times a day. They have both experienced some health problems as of late and feel that working together allows them to look after each other better.

Because their work sometimes dovetails they’re also able to help each other out on occasion. Mellisa feels it is a joy to be able to work with her spouse. The only downfall is making arrangements for time off as they are in the same work area. Tim & Mellisa have some pretty adorable grandkids that they stay active with, so they like talking about them to each other throughout the day.

Tim & Mellissa were both great additions to NMHC and we’re glad to have them here.

Overall NMHC has had great success with hiring spouses. Finding quality people can be tricky sometimes so when they come in “twos” it’s a good thing! It would be safe to say we’ll hire more down the road. Dynamic Duos!

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