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Faces of Mercy

Amazing, uplifting things happen at Mercy Medical Center and MercyCare clinics every day. These moments of inspiration embody our promise of compassionate people delivering exceptional care ... that’s The Mercy Touch®. Here are just a few stories of Mercy caregivers who live our mission in extraordinary ways. These are the Faces of Mercy ...

Dying Couple Shares Final Moments Together in ICU

Compassionate Caregivers Recognize Unique Situation in Intensive Care

Melissa, Jen, Dr. Celis & Amber in Mercy's Intensive Care Center

The day before Thanksgiving 2014 is a day Intensive Care Center (ICC) Nurse and Shift Supervisor Jennifer Somerville, RN, MSN, Nurse Clinician V, will never forget. In her care that morning was an elderly woman with a raging infection and, unfortunately, a grim prognosis.

“This woman was very sick and an intensivist had just been consulted,” Jennifer said. “She had a distant look in her eyes and her vital signs were becoming unstable.”

She was not going to survive.

The woman’s devastated children surrounded her – weeping, praying and telling their mother how much they loved her. Her husband was also nearby, but not at the bedside of his dying wife or with their heartbroken children. He was clinging to his own life in the same hospital and in the same unit, suffering a brain bleed as a patient of Jennifer’s ICC colleague Amber Arthurs, RN, BSN.

Mercy staff members quickly recognized the gravity of this unique situation and were moved to action. Realizing that the end was near, they set out to ensure that the husband could be with his wife when she took her last breath.

With the help of transporter Jodie Charipar and under the guidance of Gordon Baustian, MD, Jennifer, Amber and Melissa Griffin, RN, began moving the frail man’s bed into his wife’s hospital room. The team positioned their beds together – not an easy task due to space limitations and the amount of critical care equipment each patient required.

“Finally, we were able to finagle the beds into a good position,” Jennifer said. “The husband grabbed his wife’s hand and, 20 minutes later, she passed.”

His loving touch granted her permission to let go.

“I left the room so the family could have a moment together. Once I was out, I began sobbing uncontrollably,” she said. “I knew I would never in my life forget that moment or that patient’s name, whom I was assigned to for only two hours.”

In that powerful moment, Jennifer realized, “THIS is The Mercy Touch at its best.”

It’s not always about saving lives; sometimes, it’s about how we can contribute to lives in meaningful ways.

These are the faces of compassionate, exceptional care. These are the faces of Mercy.

Healing is our purpose. Compassion is our promise.
That’s The Mercy Touch.

Helping a Furry Visitor

Samantha, Mercy Security Guard, with Sissy the SchnauzerWhen Sissy the Schnauzer walked through the automatic doors of Mercy’s 10th Street Entrance in the early morning hours of February 7, 2015, she turned out to be a bit of a secret shopper, hopeful about finding good customer service and a way to carry out her presumed mission.

Perhaps what she discovered was that The Mercy Touch® extends even to a dog and her family.

As security camera images revealed, Sissy — tail wagging and with her nose to the ground — trotted into Mercy that day seeming curious about what lied beyond the front door and, perhaps more important, looking to find owner Nancy Franck who was hospitalized after cancer surgery.

It seems Sissy did experience The Mercy Touch – albeit from a dog’s perspective –that day, which is a good thing given the amount of time and effort she expended getting there.

Sissy’s Adventure

Sissy disappeared from her southeast Cedar Rapids home when Nancy’s husband, Dale, let the couple’s two miniature Schnauzers outside for a bathroom break. Sissy didn’t come back in the house. Instead, she ventured away and apparently made a determined 20-block trek to Mercy Medical Center.

Mercy Security Guard Samantha Conrad was on duty in the Security office when she looked up and saw Sissy on the hospital’s surveillance cameras. The dog had wandered into the 10th Street lobby, where Samantha was quickly able to intercept her. Sissy was wearing identification tags and Samantha called the inscribed phone number, connecting with Sissy’s frantic “dad,” who had been worrying about his beloved pet for more than four hours. At that moment, Dale made the connection: He told Samantha he was sure Sissy had traveled to Mercy in search of her “mom,” Nancy!

The Reunion

Samantha knew just what she needed to do for Sissy and her family.
“I’m a dog lover myself and just hearing what the patient was going through and what the dog went through to get there, I just really wanted to get them together to see each other ,” she says.

When the Franck’s daughter, Sarah Wood, arrived at Mercy to retrieve the dog a short time later, Samantha had already begun making arrangements for Sissy to complete her mission and visit Nancy, who was in a patient room on the fourth floor.

Samantha contacted Mercy’s House Supervisor and also spoke with the nurse supervisor working on Nancy’s floor. They all agreed: Sissy needed to visit Nancy. When daughter Sarah showed up in her mom’s room with an excited and wiggly Sissy in her arms, Nancy suspected Sarah had smuggled the dog in.

“My mom said, ’Did you sneak her in here?’ And I said, ‘No, she snuck herself in!’” Sarah says.

Nancy was thrilled to see Sissy, who describes her two dogs as her “kids,” now that her own children are grown and away from home.

Media Sensation

Given the combination of time and distance traveled, Sissy’s apparent mission to visit her ailing “mom,” and the images of the dog on Mercy security cameras, the story quickly became a media sensation, capturing the attention — and affection — of people around the world. Sissy’s story aired on news and entertainment programs across the country and beyond. Plus, Mercy’s social media postings and those of the media that picked up the story all went viral. Mercy’s video of the security footage had more than 13,000 views on YouTube from 104 different countries in just the first five days of posting!

Fond Memories

Sadly, five weeks after Nancy was released from the hospital, her husband passed away unexpectedly. The family mourns Dale’s passing, but says they’re glad he was able to be part of Sissy’s great adventure and the happiness the story brought to so many people.

“He really enjoyed it,” Nancy says. “He got the chance to talk to people all over the world about it, including a television station from Japan. I know he enjoyed all the coverage and he was very proud of her (Sissy).”

Nancy is also grateful to Samantha for going above and beyond the typical duties of a security guard by creating the opportunity for the joyful bedside visit with Sissy, and a long-lasting memory.

“I was glad she went the extra mile and got the approval for me to see Sissy,” Nancy says. “That’s obviously what Sissy wanted. She was crazy excited to see me and it really boosted my spirits.”

This is the face of compassionate, exceptional care. These are the faces of Mercy.

Healing is our purpose. Service is our promise.
That’s The Mercy Touch.

The Heart of Heart Care

Erin LeMieux, Mercy Cardiac Catheterization LabHow often do you remember the name of your caregiver when in the hospital or when seeing a doctor? Some just seem to stand out.

Erin LeMieux, RN, is the type of caregiver that draws you in. As a nurse in Mercy’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab, she understands exactly what it means to provide The Mercy Touch. She comforts her patients during some of the most frightening and fragile moments of their lives after procedures like coronary angioplasty, and stent placement and aortic balloons. Her compassionate approach to caregiving is consistently named in patient satisfaction surveys completed by Mercy’s heart care patients. Here’s what they are saying:

  • "Erin was so kind, cheerful, verbally encouraging and comforting, which helped me to be calm and unafraid. She was attentive and caring."
  • "Great nursing staff. I wish I had a daughter like Erin."
  • "Erin took time to make sure I was as comfortable as possible, and catered to my needs while there. A+ nurse."
  • "Erin at the Cardiac Catheterization Lab is a meritorious asset in her care and concern with patients!"
  • "Along came my nurse, Erin, an angel for the day. What an angel she was! There are not enough words to describe this dedicated nurse."

Quite simply, like so many of our caregivers, she provides exceptional care over and over again. So exceptional, that patients take the effort to personally recognize her … over and over again.

This is the face of compassionate, exceptional care. These are the faces of Mercy.

Healing is our purpose. Quality is our promise.
That’s The Mercy Touch.

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