SALUTE TO NURSES

Rescuers, Life-Savers, Angels of Mercy: Meet the Nurses of Northwest Indiana

2014-05-06T00:30:00Z 2014-05-27T12:30:21Z Rescuers, Life-Savers, Angels of Mercy: Meet the Nurses of Northwest Indiana nwitimes.com
May 06, 2014 12:30 am  • 

From the moment we are born until the day we die, nurses are there for us. Many times, though we don’t even remember his or her name, we recall exactly what he or she looked like: How could I ever forget the smiling nurse who held up my first-born child, already swaddled in blankets---operating rooms were kept cold in those days---and said, “He’s so cute, he looks just like a little peanut!” Or many years later, when I was being rushed into the operating room, the nurse who took my engagement ring and said she would take care of for me no problem until I woke up. I didn’t wake for two weeks but she kept her promise.

Who doesn’t have a story about a heroic nurse? But how many times, do people take the chance or the time to write it down. These people did.

Calvin Chubb, describing Kelly Foster, a labor and delivery nurse at Porter Regional Hospital went to the trouble to let us know that not only does Kelly go above and beyond the expected in her life and she carries that enthusiasm over into her job as well.

“Porter Health Care System’s nurses are a large segment of its healthcare team,” explains Porter Health Care System Chief Nursing Officer Taffy Arias. “From the Emergency Department to the NICU, to the surgical suites and electrophysiology lab, nurses are the ‘face’ of the healthcare system and the frontline of the care teams. They coordinate patient treatment, take and record vital signs, administer medication, and assist with surgeries, deliveries and emergent care. They work alongside fellow nurses, physicians, and other clinicians to carefully track patient progress.

“Nurses are known for the compassion and support they provide to patients and their families. In an environment where individuals can be frightened or confused by what is happening around them, nurses help explain diagnoses, procedures, tests and medications,” Arias says. “They respond to patient concerns, answer questions and help educate patients on their care and treatment. Beyond the skills and knowledge they offer, it’s often the kind words, or warm hands, or listening ears they provide that make nurses the most trusted professionals in healthcare.”

Heidi Dennies, a registered nurse, who works for Total Home Health was brought to our attention 11 times, by the many people she has worked with in their homes. In one particularly poetic passage by grateful patient Gary Gyrum, he wonders at first if Heidi is really a person, or just an angel, an apparition. Imagine yourself a wounded civil war soldier and as you slowly start to awaken, you see a glowing heavenly figure of a nurse. You know your medical needs were met and she now touches your hand and lets you know that recovery will be short. Later, you begin to talk to other wounded and ask, "Was that really Clara Barton?" and they said, "No—Heidi Dennies."

Reader Vanessa DeRousseau credits Neo-Natal Nurse Jessica Martinez at Franciscan Alliance’s St. Margaret Mercy in Dyer as saving the lives of babies….babies, as DeRousseau says, that “otherwise might not make it. She (Martinez) helped my baby during a C-section and I couldn’t have asked for a better nurse to care for her.”

Many of these dedicated nurses were nominated by colleagues and, though treatment of patients is always mentioned at the top of the recommendation, being there for others on your team is another trait of the many fine nurses in Northwest Indiana. “Compassion for her coworkers abounds. Kristi is always willing to change days or shifts to meet their needs. Kristi treats all as if they were her own family, looking for ways that she can improve their experience,” writes Kristi Johnson about PACU Nurse Kristi Johnson at Franciscan St. Anthony Hopsital in Crown Point. “Working in both the pre-op and post-op units, she is exposed to all ages from young children to senior citizens. She makes excellent decisions when she is in charge, expediting patient care. A true team member, Kristi is always willing to share her knowledge and experience.”

It is difficult to enumerate all the credentials of a nurse like Isabelle Skurka with CaridoSpecialists Group, Ltd. but, as the person who let us know about her, all of the acronyms after her name are not what really matters. What counts, as Virgina Mulcahy knows, is that “Isabelle always takes the extra time that every patient needs. She is more caring than any healthcare professional I have ever met.”

Another nurse with multiple nominations was Sue Bero. Sue had an unusual endorsement from her son Zachary who realizes that most of his life she spent working two jobs so he and his brother could go to good schools. Though Sue worked as waitress and freelance writer she had always dreamed of becoming a nurse so when she got the opportunity (at age 57), she went back to school. Zachary writes: “I'm proud to be able to say that my mom not only had a desire inside her to better herself and others, but acted on it at an age where most people are comfortable and unwilling to make such a change. She is now an energetic, thoughtful and thorough nurse at Community Hospital and I'm proud to nominate her as an amazing nurse.”

Angelic qualities were frequently on patients’ minds when describing a nurse he or she observed under very challenging circumstances Says Donna Brubach of Julie Prieboy of Suniti Medical Corp.: “Julie has helped so many people with the implementation of cancer treatment plans, supportive care, clinical triage and symptom management for adult oncology and hematology patients. She is an angel in disguise.”

Susan Denny, a colleague of nurse Veronica Call of Methodist Hospital, cites years of experience working side-by-side with Veronica in the OR for over 25 years: “Tension is a constant in the OR; dealing with the very different personalities of the surgeons and staff is a challenge and Veronica handles it all with ease. She always has a kind word and caring attitude to everyone she comes in contact with. And then Susan pays Veronica the ultimate compliment when she says, “If I ever have to have surgery, I know my request will be to have Veronica as my nurse!”

Yes, we heard from the relatives of dedicated nurses and that’s appropriate when you consider how much those families sacrifice when the nurse is her mother, his spouse or his daughter. Ruben DeLeon was kind enough to share the story of his wife Maria, a nurse at Merry Millers Manor. Who returned to nursing after raising her own five children. “She had to overcome a language barrier, with English as her second language,” he explains in addition to being older than most of the people in her class. “She now works at a facility where she takes care of over 30 senior citizens.” On days she is off, she calls in to check on her patients, he writes.

As Porter Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Taffy Arias concludes, “We are thankful for the compassion and clinical excellence that our nurses exhibit every day whether at the bedside or in leadership positions.”

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