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Home > Careers > Faces of Mercy > Helping a Furry Visitor
When 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 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!
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.
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!
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.