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Five IU Health team members around the state have won the 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 winners are:
Jhoan “JoJo” Perez-Ordenana, RN, is a nurse in the surgical trauma critical care unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital, which means she often deals with patients who have experienced a stressful situation or diagnosis. Because of this, JoJo always recognizes every patient as special and important, and she always finds the best in them, says her clinical operations manager and nominator Gloria Wiser.
Wiser noted a patient JoJo once cared for who was ill and homeless. JoJo was able to recognize his struggle with mental illness and how that had affected his life. During a time that the patient was unable to speak, Wiser recalls that JoJo spoke to him in a way that he became more at ease with the fear that he was going through during his hospitalization. After he transferred from the critical care unit, JoJo knew that the patient did not have any shoes, so she brought him in a pair he could wear upon discharge.
“She is a role model for compassion and acceptance,” says Wiser.
Kevin Bockus is the chaplaincy director at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. He began his new role days before the pandemic began. According to his nominator Jay Foster, vice president of Spiritual Care, Chaplaincy and Congregational Partnerships, the team was stretched thin before Bockus’ arrival.
“Immediately after joining the team, Kevin demonstrated compassion toward his staff and patients by effectively managing the significant increase of need for spiritual care,” says Foster. “Kevin did this by taking way more than his share of on-call shifts, and by helping the team address staffing and clinical issues as they arose.”
While juggling these responsibilities, Chaplain Bockus was also part of a small group of leaders who met weekly with IU Health East Central Region President Jeff Bird, MD, to address staff fatigue. He also led his team in the repurposing of the small and "too traditional" chapel space at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
“Thanks to Kevin, the chapel is now a welcoming, multi-use space for prayer, meditation, art and more. It’s a place for patients, families and team members to spiritually recharge.”
Louis Johns, a patient care assistant at IU Health North Hospital, has always led his team with calm and compassionate care while challenging them to remain empathetic during stressful situations, says clinical nurse and nominator Colin Davenport. The challenges of the pandemic didn’t change this. In fact, COVID-19 caused Johns to be even more mindful of his patients’ and coworkers' struggles alike.
“There have been countless times I have witnessed Louis holding a patient's hand during times of distress, showing patience with grace, and providing a much-needed human connection and healing presence, says Davenport. “When giving patient care, I can always rely on Louis to set the golden standard and keep everyone in the moment.”
Johns also serves as his unit’s skin and wound champion, and often provides education and audits to ensure his patients are receiving quality care.
“I am honored to work with someone who brings out compassion in me and who I can look to provide the best care in any moment,” says Davenport.
Nicole Nethery, a social worker at IU Health Bloomington, showed friendship and compassion to her nominator Amber Deckard, a clinical nurse, when she was going through an uneasy time last summer. “When my fiancé passed away, Nicole checked on me and my family several times a day,” says Deckard. “She would sit with me while I cried. She answered so many questions for me about end-of-life planning and about benefits my kids should receive.” Deckard noted the same compassion and empathy that Nethery showed her is how she treats all her clients. “Nicole cares so much about all of the families she helps,” says Deckard. “She truly is a gem and a wonderful person.” According to Deckard, many people do not realize how much social workers help within the hospital setting and how important they are to patients. “To all social workers, but especially Nicole, thank you so much for what you do to support our team members and patients.”
Susan DeSutter, a lab assistant at IU Health Arnett Hospital, has always been able to make her patients feel special, says lab assistant and nominator Charlie Harden. “She always goes the extra mile to help others on a daily basis, and she’s taught me that working in a lab is not just about collecting specimens … it’s about making a difference in the lives of our patients,” says Harden.
Harden recalled one patient who dubbed DeSutter as his favorite lab assistant and who he always felt better after seeing. Harden also remembered another patient of DeSutter’s who he had just received a similar diagnosis of something she had already overcome. She shared her story and experience with him, and helped the patient feel at ease.
“Sue told me after seeing that patient that she felt she was in the right place at the right time to inspire him,” Harden said. “She is a sweetheart.”
According to Harden, Sue lives the IU Health values and is a shining example for her teammates. “Thank you, Sue, for the many things you do for the lab, and for your compassion.”