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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 ...

Small talk. Big changes.

Sometimes, it’s the smallest gesture that makes the biggest difference.

Angie Getty, RNA patient was hesitant about receiving a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line. After reviewing information and taking the morning to think about it, he decided a PICC was the best way to help his body receive medication, but his nerves about the procedure were still getting the best of him. When Angie Getty, RN, arrived to start the PICC line, she could tell he was uneasy.

"He excused himself to go to the restroom before we started," Angie says. "While he was away, his wife and I talked lightheartedly about married life. I told her about a project my husband and I started, but had yet to complete, in our machine shed."

The patient, who grew up on a farm, overheard their conversation. He had been away from the industry for 40 years and often thought of it.

"When he came out of the restroom he was an entirely different person," she states. "He sat down on the bed and said he heard me talk about a machine shed; he asked if my family farmed. I said yes."

That was all it took to put him at ease. The pair talked about crops and cattle and John Deere equipment — the patient had a PICC line inserted before he even realized Angie had started the procedure.

"He just opened up during his hospital stay," she smiles. "He told me all about his time as a mayor, stories about a famous friend, and he even had his wife bring me a copy of a book he wrote so I could read it. He's an amazing man. I met his daughter and two granddaughters; his whole family is wonderful."

From a unique circumstance a friendship blossomed. Angie introduced her husband to the patient — who refers to Angie as his "angel" — and they, too, developed a special bond. The three decided to stay in touch.

The patient's daughter explained the deeper significance of Angie’s friendship — her father has stage 4 bone cancer. Being new to the area with no inspiration to stay motivated, he had started to withdraw and was giving up the fight, until he developed a one-of-a-kind friendship with a Mercy nurse that all started with a simple conversation and ended with a reason to enjoy life again.

"His wife says he's so much happier, and he's started walking two to four miles a day because he's feeling better," says Angie.

He has visited the Getty's farm several times, too, where he has helped rake hay, move bales and haul grain to the elevator. The families have enjoyed cattle barn tours, special dinners and each other's company.

"He said that months ago he wouldn't have even dreamed of leaving the house," Angie says of her friend. "He just wasn't feeling good. He said he feels better now and is having the most fun he's had in a long time."

"His friendship has changed our lives just as much as he and his family say we've affected his," she continues. "To know that just the simple gesture of talking farming with somebody made this kind of an impact; I would've never dreamed it."

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

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.

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