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June 15, 2023

Five IU Health Team Members Receive “The Lynda” Award for Compassionate Care

Five IU Health Team Members Receive “The Lynda” Award for Compassionate Care

By Tam “Joey” Ngo, tngo2@iuhealth.org, IU Health Foundation writer

Five IU Health team members around the state have won the 2023 Lynda A. Merriman Award for Compassionate Care. Thanks to the generosity of IU Health Foundation donor Chuck Merriman, this award honors the kind of dedicated IU Health team members who eased his wife Lynda’s seven-month battle with cancer at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center and IU Health University Hospital. “The Lynda,” as the award is nicknamed, is a cash award, and its winners are nominated by their peers at IU Health hospitals statewide.

The 2023 winners are:

Leah Edgerton, PT
Leah Edgerton, PT (Center)

Leah Edgerton, PT, works at IU Health Methodist Hospital in the Rehab to Home (RTH) program, where patients receive post-acute inpatient rehab services. Many of these patients speak only Spanish. According to Edgerton’s nominator, Kellie Rush, Edgerton went above and beyond by independently learning Spanish, in addition to using the healthcare system's automated translation service, MARTTI. "Leah recognized that nothing is better than the opportunity to directly communicate with a patient," said Rush. During one co-evaluation with a Spanish-speaking patient, the team lost its connection with an interpreter, so Edgerton stepped in to converse with the patient in Spanish. Edgerton's colleague said, "I joked to her that I had no idea she could speak Spanish. That's when she told me she couldn't, but ever since beginning to work on the RTH team, she felt she needed to learn." Edgerton, who uses podcasts to study Spanish, also politely asks Spanish-speaking families to speak slowly as she learns. Seeing this, Rush said, "It only takes a brief moment before you experience the compassionate care she spreads to all patients and team members.”

Cheri Weisheit, RN
Cheri Weisheit, RN (Right)

Cheri Weisheit, RN, who has worked at IU Health West Hospital for six years, was nominated for the Lynda by her colleague—and patient—Sharon Niese. When Niese underwent a stress test and a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), Weisheit volunteered to serve as her nurse for both procedures. “She talked with me before the procedure and helped calm my fears, and was as happy as I was when I received good results,” Niese said. "Cheri pours her whole heart into everything and makes it her goal to make the day as easy for everyone as she can, and she never asks for or expects anything in return." This act of compassion inspired Niese to nominate Weisheit for the Lynda Award, but another teammate of Weisheit added, “I was in complete shock the first time I heard her ask if there was anything she could do for any of us before she left work. It was such a small and simple thing to ask but meant so much.”

Amanda Engle, RN
Amanda Engle, RN (Left)

Amanda Engle, RN, works in Oncology at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. Recognized as the team's cheerleader by her nominator, Shannon Craig, Engle once volunteered to take an on-call shift for a fellow nurse. Craig said, “Our on-call shifts start at 8 pm. Shortly after 8, Amanda received a call from the triage nurses that a young patient was declining, and the parent requested a nurse visit. Amanda arrived at the home to find the patient having uncontrolled symptoms, and the medications in the home were not seeming to help.” They decided to move the patient to the hospital, but a bed was not immediately available. Craig said Amanda stayed with the family for four hours, giving medications, lending emotional support, and trying to calm their fears. “Amanda never left their side, giving the very best care she could to both the patient and family,” said Craig. “I know that the patient and family in this story, as well as all our others that she comes in contact with, are in the very best of hands.”

Laura Herthel, RN
Laura Herthel, RN

Laura Herthel, RN, has worked for 32 years at IU Health Bedford Hospital. Her nominator, Melissa Mitchell, said, “Many people with 31+ years of experience would be creatures of habit stuck in ‘This is the way we have always done it’, but Laura rolls with the punches, goes with the flow and helps others adjust to change along the way, too.” During the pandemic, Mitchell said, the surgery team was asked to provide many different types of care because surgeries were temporarily suspended. “In spite of the alteration of work environment and schedule, Laura showed up with the same welcoming face, kindness, grace and willingness to help those in need,” Mitchell said. “She partnered with our house supervisors to help oversee the needs of team members all across the facility, and they expressed gratitude for her assistance.” Mitchell believes nursing is not as simple as applying a skill set. “If I were on the receiving end, I would want a nurse with Laura’s knowledge, experience and skill set, and I would appreciate her empathy and compassionate touch,” Mitchell said.

Chelsea Redwine, RN
Chelsea Redwine, RN (Right)

Chelsea Redwine, RN, serves on the Labor & Delivery unit at IU Health Arnett Hospital. According to her nominator, Erin Dubin, Redwine goes above and beyond by preserving mementos for patients who have lost babies. “I have witnessed first-hand these incredible mementos including pictures, molds of hands and feet, and locks of hair that Chelsea has carefully curated to offer some sort of peace for these families,” Dubin said. When a family recently arranged for a photographer to capture images, the pictures were not good because the fetus was covered in debris from the delivery. “Chelsea and another co-worker took this fetus, cleaned them up, did mementos, and presented the family with what seemed like a brand-new baby, bringing the family to tears,” Dubin said. “Simple things like this make Chelsea special; she focuses on the small things that mean so much.” These acts of compassion inspired Dubin to nominate Redwine for the Lynda. “I am so lucky to have someone to look up to at work like Chelsea, and our patients are beyond lucky to have someone like her working here at IU Health Arnett,” Dubin said.