Rosemary Castillo

The founder and chief executive officer of Bienvivir Senior Health Services needed convincing she was a 2014 Woman of Impact. She didn’t believe it.

In the initial call, Rosemary Castillo thought El Paso Inc. just wanted some information from her. But whoever nominated her had thought otherwise.

So, consider this honor a crowning touch of sorts for Castillo, who plans to retire next year.

She’s responsible for the overall administration of five adult day health centers in El Paso that offer all-inclusive care for the frail elderly, including doctors, nurses, occupational, physical and speech therapy, dieticians and much more.

Founded in 1987, Bienvivir is a private non-profit, community-based, long-term care program. And it’s the only grassroots organization among the first 10 sites in the nation chosen to take part in the San Francisco-based On-Lok Risk-Based Long Term Care Initiative.

Before that, Castillo had been director of the Area Agency of Aging, had worked for West Texas Council of Governments, at UTEP, and did surveys for the state Department of Public Welfare.

She’s done a lot and seen a lot. Looking back, Castillo takes special pride in bringing PACE – the Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly – to El Paso.

“El Paso was in competition with 200 other non-profits throughout the United State for this,” she says. “As director of the West Texas Area Agency on Aging, I had to commit to start a new non-profit organization to implement PACE.

“I had no experience as a health-care provider; I knew strategy and I knew systems implementation. It was difficult, but the real test was to make it a sustainable, growing organization.”

It worked. For many years it was mere survival, she says, but now Bienvivir in El Paso is one of the nation’s largest, most successful PACE programs.

Modestly, she calls her accomplishments “cumulative,” noting that one’s professional life consists of all the experiences and people that have contributed to your knowledge base and your ability to broaden your vision.

“There’s no one accomplishment that’s more important than another,” she says, “because they all are part of the total, all part of the whole.”

Be free to envision, Castillo advises. Everything is possible, but one must be willing to pay the price – there are many sacrifices to be made.

“Choose a career that flares the fire in your being and that brings joy to your daily existence – others will feel it and be inspired by it.”

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