CA: Meet Barbara Blaser, Magnolia’s Director Of Clinical Services

Photo Credit: Barbara Blaser

Hi! I’m Barbara Blaser, the Director of Clinical Services at Magnolia Oakland. I am responsible for educating Magnolia’s patients and training our staff about medical conditions that effect cannabis patients. I wanted to introduce myself and say hello!

I hope you’ll stop in and ask for me, if only just to introduce yourself. I’m committed to building on the foundation of quality services that Magnolia already offers to our patients. We’re not only going to be offering free classes, but also groups such as Senior Wellness and Caregiver sessions to better serve our community.

I thought some of you might like to know more about my background, so:

I graduated from nurses training at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago in the fall of 1966. Soon after, I accepted a position with the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. During the almost 30 years that I was employed by the State of Illinois, I rose from a charge nurse at East Moline Mental Health Center to a supervisor at Madden Mental Health Center.

Based on my skills, knowledge, and abilities, I was recruited into the central office to work in the newly created Staff Development department. My duties included job task analysis for positions such as security and nursing, as well as creating and implementing standardized training programs at 25 facilities across the state.

When Illinois began phasing out large state hospitals, I was part of the closure team. I worked with staff who were being displaced by the closures on all three shifts to write resumes and cover letters, also teaching interviewing skills. As a member of the Employee Assistance Program, I provided guidance and referral to local services for affected staff. (One of the things we’re working on at Magnolia is to provide assistance in several of these areas.)

In 1995, Illinois decided to create the MISA (Mental Illness & Substance Abuse) Institute to develop an infrastructure for the hundreds of organizations providing services to patients with a dual diagnosis of both a mental illness and a substance abuse issue. I was offered and accepted the job as Institute Director. The institute successfully developed a website, printed a quarterly newsletter, and held training events throughout the state on a regular basis. The success of the institute led the Department of Public Health to expand training for their staff statewide as well as community agencies working with the mentally ill. I was promoted to coordinate both the MISA Institute and the new organization.

I had always been interested in alternative medicine, and during this time I also started providing training at Berkeley Patients Group, a cannabis dispensary founded by my daughter, Debby Goldsberry. In 2002, my husband and I chose to leave Illinois and move to California where our children were living. I worked for several years as the Director of Nursing at a long-term care facility and a hospice, retiring in 2011.

In 2016, I came out of retirement to become the Director of Clinical Services at Magnolia Oakland. With my training and clinical background, I am facilitating new groups and services, along with developing training for staff. As a life-long nurse, I remain committed to the provision of quality care for all the patients who come through our doors.

Just as a side note, during my career I was invited to testify in Washington, D.C. in Congress on pay equity issues. I was president of the union that represented all the nurses employed in Illinois state agencies: Corrections, Public Health, Public Aid, etc., as well as treasurer of the Illinois Nurses Association. I worked tirelessly on the Equal Rights Amendment and marched in Washington on the final day that the amendment could have passed.

Fifty years after my mother said, “Be a nurse, you will always have a job,” I am still working.

Please come back regularly for more information on medical conditions covered by the California law and for updates on current best practices when it comes to using cannabis. Please check out the Events calendar and attend one of our groups. You are not alone!