2022 Nurses

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SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2022 |


MAY 2022





| SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2022


JUDGING OUR WINNERS Two independent judges: Julie Kolker and Chrysten Dohrmann from North Iowa Area Community College reviewed all of the nominees and chose the 10 winners revealed within this section. Read about each winner within this section to see why our judges chose these individuals. Nurses are the heart and soul of hospitals, clinics, schools, residential facilities, in-home care, and much more. Nurses educate, console, relate, comfort and endear themselves to patients and families. Nursing is a demanding profession that requires extraordinary skill and compassion. That rings true even more in this era of COVID-19, where nurses are on the front line of a worldwide pandemic. These tireless professionals deserve every bit of recognition they will receive during National Nurses Week, which kicked off this week. Locally, the Globe Gazette took part in honoring the area’s own nurses with a contest, section and awards event.

Chrysten Dohrmann, Instructor North Iowa Area Community College Chrysten has served as an instructor for North Iowa Area Community College for five years, teaching cardiac and vascular content to Nursing students in the ADN program. Prior to working at NIACC, she gained significant cardiac knowledge when working for eight years as a leader on the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Mercy One in Mason City, and multiple ERs/ICUs in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and in Des Moines. Chrysten received her Master’s of Science in Nursing in Leadership and Management from Walden University and her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Allen College in Waterloo.



Greg Wilderman/Circulation Director greg.wilderman@globegazette.com

North Iowa Area Community College Julie has been an Associate Degree Nursing Instructor at North Iowa Area Community College for past 18 years, working closely with the Nursing IV students. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Services from Iowa State University, an Associate of Science degree in Nursing from NIACC and a Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Iowa.

Doug Hines/Regional Editor Doug.Hines@wcfcourier.com

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THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS: MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center Community Health Center Country Meadows Place Good Shepherd Inc. North Iowa Area Community College


National Nurses Week is celebrated each year in the United States. The American Nurses Association notes that the week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, which coincides with International Nurses Day, a global celebration designed to highlight and celebrate the contributions nurses make to society. May 12 also marks the birthday of Florence Nightingale, an influential 19th century British nurse who many consider the founder of modern nursing. Celebrations honoring nurses

across the globe figure to take on greater meaning in 2022 as the world continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, during which countless nurses have died from the virus while many others have contracted it before eventually returning to work to continue helping those in need. This year, individuals, community leaders and privately held businesses can come together during National Nurses Week to celebrate the important work nurses do and the bravery they’ve shown while confronting one of the most devastating pandemics in history.

Globe Gazette




MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

Mercy nursing director turns post-surgery unit into a COVID unit overnight MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

David Ashe became the director of nursing for two post-surgical units at MercyOne North Iowa on March 16, 2020. Three days later, he learned one of those units, 5 West, was going to become a COVID-19 unit. His other post-surgery unit, 4 West, later followed suit. Ashe said the pandemic has been his life for the past two years. “You go home at night, and all you think about is work,” he said. Only in the past month or two have things returned to some sense of normalcy, according to Ashe. “Looking back over the past two years, it’s just amazing that my nurses, who were post-surgical nurses taking care of knees, hips, shoulder replacements, that kind of thing, had their lives flipped upside down caring for very sick medical patients, and they just did an amazing job in caring for these patients,” he said. The Mason City resident didn’t initially plan to become a nurse. He enrolled at Iowa State University with the intention of becoming a physical therapist. He then became interested in the exercise aspect of that field and doing athletic training. After graduating from ISU, Ashe did a preceptorship in cardiac rehab at MercyOne. He loved it and decided he wanted to be an exercise specialist, but he needed to become a nurse to do that. He entered the nursing program at North Iowa Area Community College, doing his clinicals at MercyOne. “I just loved bedside nursing,” he said. Ashe became a nursing assistant on 4 West in January 2013. He completed NIACC’s RN program in May 2015 and began working in the critical care unit at Mercy. In the CCU, “You build a lot of relationships with the families (of patients),” he said. Ashe said he applied for a leadership position at Mercy because he wanted to help nurses improve their ability to care for patients.

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |


David Ashe Also, “I just want to make sure our nurses have the best work life possible,” he said. And then COVID-19 hit. Kim Chamberlin, vice president of

patient services/chief nursing officer at MercyOne, said all the leaders had a tough time during the pandemic, but Ashe “had to change a whole unit into a COVID unit overnight.”

Fortunately, he was up to the challenge, she said, describing Ashe as an “eternal optimist.” “He is always looking on the bright side of things and trying to make things better even during the worst situations,” Chamberlin said. “He just has a good heart and he’s creative. He’s not afraid to work hard and get right in there and get done what needs to be done.” At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of “fear of the unknown,” Ashe said. “This sickness was like nothing else we had ever seen,” he said, noting that in a week’s time, the staff at Mercy would see more death than they had in their entire working careers. However, just like with any other new disease, everyone learned more about it and eventually felt more comfortable with dealing with it, according to Ashe. “The whole organization has been through a lot emotionally (during the pandemic), but obviously my 5 West nurses have been on the front end of things,” he said. Some hospital employees, including Ashe, lost loved ones due to COVID, adding to their stress. Ashe’s grandfather contracted the virus and died on 5 West. Even though Ashe was working on that floor, he couldn’t go visit him before he died because of the COVID restrictions. “That was a tough one,” he said. Ashe also lost an uncle to COVID. Just in the past few weeks as cases have decreased, Mercy is finally allowing visitors again — including for COVID patients — on a limited basis. Ashe said he is extremely proud of how everyone at the hospital responded to the crisis. He said he doesn’t feel deserving of being among the 10 nurses the Globe Gazette is honoring this year. “This is not a recognition for me,” Ashe said. This is a recognition for my staff.” The nurses he supervises have gone through a lot during the pandemic, according to Ashe. “I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “There’s no possible amount of candy I can buy them, no amount of food. There’s nothing that can show my gratitude towards them.”


| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

New post-surgical nurse at MercyOne has ‘hit the ground running’ MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

ShyAnne Baker, who began her nursing career in September at MercyOne North Iowa, was inspired to go into the health care by her mother’s example. Baker, who is the oldest sibling in her family, said she remembers when her mom, Echo Baker, who is now works on the cardiac floor at MercyOne, was going to nursing school. “Seeing how happy it made her to graduate and finally begin working as a nurse, it made me really want to do it,” she said. Echo Baker said ever since her daughter began working at Mercy, she has heard lots of praise about her. “She’s done awesome,” she said. ShyAnne Baker, who graduated as an RN from North Iowa Area Community College in May 2021, works on the 4 West post-surgery unit at MercyOne. “I just love helping people,” she said. “I love seeing people come in at their worst times and being able to see them walking the halls or go home when we think they are able to go home. I just love that. I think it’s amazing.” The most challenging part about nursing is managing your time, according to the 2017 Mason City High School graduate. Baker said it can be difficult to prioritize needs when she has five patients at once and they all need something at the same time. North Iowa was still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when Baker began working at MercyOne. “That was very difficult because everyone already had their feet on the ground with COVID and I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “The PPE was new to me; the patients were new to me and they were just so much more sick. Getting used to that environment was very hard for me, but I had a really good group of girls with me who were really supportive and really helpful in walking me through everything, so that made everything better.”


ShyAnne Baker Baker works the night shift. “My body was definitely not happy with me at first,” she said. “I was sick in the middle of the night, but my body is starting to get used to it, and I really enjoy it.” One advantage of working nights is you are free during the daytime, according to Baker. “I absolutely love it (at Mercy),” she

said. “The 4 West night girls are amazing. They really take the time to make sure you know what you are doing and answer any questions you have. I wouldn’t have started anywhere else.” David Ashe, director of nursing at 4 West and 5 West, said as a new nurse Baker “hit the ground running.” Baker is not only an impressive nurse, but an impressive person, according to

Ashe. “She provides such compassionate care to our patients, their families, the caregivers, and on top of that she’s such a great team member,” he said. “Even if she is busy with her own stuff, she is more than willing to help anyone on the team, anyone on our floor. I have very high aspirations for her just from the way she is beginning in her career here in my unit.”

Globe Gazette

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |

Happy National Nurses Week! Thank you for your continued dedication to transforming the health care of the communities we serve.

Passionate about health care? Find your calling and apply today at MercyOne.org/ northiowa/careers.



| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

Country Meadow Place

“She always puts the residents first” MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

When Destiny Burkgren was 9, her sister was diagnosed with cancer. “Being able to help her made me want to go to nursing school so I could help others,” said the Nora Springs resident. Burkgren, who grew up in the Chicago area and moved with her family to Oelwein when she was 9, enrolled in the licensed practical nursing program at Kaplan University in Cedar Falls when she was 19. She later graduated as an RN from Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar. Burkgren been a nurse for 12 years, mainly in long-term care facilities. Nearly a year ago, she left the critical care unit at MercyOne North Iowa to start a new job as the health care coordinator at County Meadow Place, an assisted living facility in Mason City. She said what she likes best about geriatric nursing is “helping the residents, getting to know them and their families, hanging out with them. There’s not a day when I don’t have residents sitting in my office just hanging out and I’m talking to them, making their day better.” The most difficult part of the job is “not being able to help everybody, not being able to save everybody,” Burkgren said. “Not having a cure for Alzheimer’s is very challenging.” Burkgren was still at MercyOne when the COVID pandemic broke out. She was pregnant at the time, so she didn’t have to provide direct care to those patients. Instead, she helped with IV pumps and got things ready outside the room the COVID patients were in. There’s only been one COVID outbreak at Country Meadow Place in the time Burkgren has been there, “and we didn’t lose anyone,” she said. Burkgren said she likes the residents and the families and “the bond that we have created.” She also appreciates her co-workers. Burkgren met her husband, Jeff, in 2011 when she was an LPN at Harmony House in Cedar Falls and he was the activities director. “Wherever she’s gone, she always put


Destiny Burkgren the residents first,” he said. Tyler Hedegard, community relations coordinator at County Meadow Place, said, “She is amazing at helping them adjust to anything they need. The simple things like having a bad day to new med-

ication to a new diagnosis.” Burkgren is also the definition of being on call 24/7 when it comes to residents’ family members, according to Hedegard. She will get on her personal cell phone and “talk to them about anything and every-

thing,” he said. Burkgren said she is honored be recognized for her work, but she is simply doing her job. “I just love what I do,” she said. “Twelve years and I still love it.”


Globe Gazette


A TOUGH TWO YEARS Here’s how they’ve stayed resilient



Los Angeles Times‌

t the beginning of the pandemic, Penny Weismuller, director of Cal State Fullerton’s School of Nursing, said everyone in her Southern California neighborhood would come outside at 7 p.m. to make noise in celebration of the health care workers on the front lines. Her neighborhood still comes out to honor the resiliency of health care workers, especially nurses. Nurses have always had to be resilient, Weismuller said. The pandemic showcased that resiliency and pushed its limits in some cases.

She said for some nurses, this is their first disease outbreak. Weismuller, who for 30 years worked in disease control and epidemiology, has experienced multiple outbreaks. But this pandemic “has been very difficult for all of us.” With multiple waves of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, some nurses and other health care professionals are burning out. In a Mental Health America survey from June to September 2020, 93% of the more than 1,100 health care workers surveyed were experiencing stress. The survey found that 86% reported experiencing anxiety, Please see TOUGH, Page 9

A Big Thank You To All Of Our North Iowa Nurses! Thanks For Making A Difference!

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |

Mental health resources for nurses Front-line workers, including health care

workers, who are concerned about their mental health can visit Mental Health America to be screened and find resources and support. The American Nurses Association recommends nurses contact their organization’s employee assistance program if stress, anxiety, fear, rumination or depressed moods are interfering with their functioning. Be proactive and do not wait until you’re in crisis. Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Grand Challenge is a program that aims to create a healthy nurse population. The American Psychiatric Nurses Association provides self-care strategies. Nurse associations collaborated to create the Well-Being Initiative, a nurses’ guide to mental health support services. The National Alliance on Mental Illness created a guide for health care professionals that covers when to reach out, confidential and professional support, peer support resources, building resilience and other resources.



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| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

Mercy One nurse balances many responsibilities MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

April Gambell is wearing many hats. She has a split position at MercyOne North Iowa, where she spends half her time as a unit-based educator and the other half as a charge nurse. On top of that, she works part time as a clinical instructor for the nursing program at North Iowa Area Community College. As a unit-based educator, she does orientation for the new nurses as well as inpatient instruction for the nurses in all the units at the hospital. Gambell said she likes being both a charge nurse and an instructor because “I can relate to the people that I’m educating because I’ve seen both sides of what’s going on.” When she teaches something new to the staff, “I am also experiencing those things,” she said. “I’m walking the walk. They know that I am there to help them as well. I’m not just saying, ‘Oh, hey, do this.’ I am on the floor, so I can help them. I’m usually the first person they grab if they have questions. I’m just always available because I’m working alongside them.” Gambell instructs the current staff, not just new nurses, because there are always new things to learn That has been especially true since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago. Gambell said being a unit-based educator during the pandemic has meant “staying on top of all the evidence-based practice and staying on top of what every individual governing body says we should be doing” to keep the staff and the patients safe. Gambell has been a nurse for nearly 20 years. She said health care is “what I’ve always wanted to do.” She began working for EMS when she was just 17. She began the nursing program at Morningside College in Sioux City right out of high school, but didn’t complete it there. Instead, she went to Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota, to become an LPN, and then got her RN training at the University of


April Gambell South Dakota. Gambell was a long-care nurse from 2002 to 2018. When she started at MercyOne in 2018, she had just finished her bachelor’s degree in nursing and was looking for more experience as she was going to graduate school. She is hoping to complete the work for her master’s degree in leadership and management this year. Lisa Forsyth, director of medical and short stay services at MercyOne, said

Gambell is currently the only unit-based educator at the hospital, and has risen to the task. Gambell works with new hires at every level and is responsible for both onboarding and orientation, all while finding time to work the NIACC clinical students, according to Forsyth. Between Gambell and LaVonne Wolf, the other clinical instructor, “we have had nurses breaking down the door to work in

4 East,” Forsyth said. She called Gambell “a caring, upbeat nurse all around.” She said she’s also experienced and “knows her stuff.” Gambell’s personality has a lot to do with her success as both an educator and a charge nurse, according to Forsyth. “She’s not intimidating in the least, and she really encourages people as they learn and grow as a nurse,” she said. “Patients love her. She’s very bubbly.”


Globe Gazette

Tough From Page 7

77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed. Emotional exhaustion was the most common answer when health care workers were asked what had changed for them recently — followed by trouble sleeping, physical exhaustion and work-related dread. About 39% of health care workers said that they did not feel like they had adequate support. We spoke to three nurses on the front lines of the pandemic in Los Angeles County and one in academia to ask what challenges they’ve faced since March 2020 and how they are coping, personally and professionally. Here’s what they said.

Anahiz Correa

Anahiz Correa remembers a strong connection with a patient at South L.A.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, where she is the head of nursing for the intensive care unit. She and the patient shared a last name, and he happened to be from the same town

in Mexico as her grandfather. Correa had to fill in on night shifts when the hospital was short-staffed, on top of her normal duties. That’s how she met and connected with this man. “We knew that the chances of his survival weren’t high,” Correa said. He had been in the intensive care unit for about two weeks, and by the end of his second, the unit’s physician, with the patient’s consent, made the decision to intubate him. Correa helped the patient call his wife, knowing it might be the last time he would be able to speak to her. Correa and the other nurses stood by the patient to support him and each other in that moment. “Witnessing that conversation, it really put me through how many times my staff has witnessed these conversations during this time,” Correa said. Correa’s advice:After that phone call, Correa and her team stepped out of the room and talked about what they witnessed and how it made them feel. Correa said those kinds of conversations occurred often. For some members of her team, that was enough. Others chose to seek professional help — including Correa. She began talking to a therapist about her work in the ICU. She also relies on meditation and mo-

ments of gratitude before and after work to get herself in the right mindset to perform her duties in caring for her community. When it came to helping her staff, Correa was integral in establishing a post-ICU clinic at Martin Luther King Jr. hospital. She said nurses worried about whether discharged patients would get the specialty care they needed to completely recover from a bout with severe COVID-19. “Our nurses were feeling like, ‘We’re saving these patients, but what was going to happen to them after?’” she said. Correa collaborated with a physician to create the clinic where ICU nurses can participate in patients’ follow-up care. “It’s absolutely healing for a lot of them to know that our patients are being taken care of,” she said.

Joyce Leido

Joyce Leido is a support system at work and at home. Leido, chief nurse executive for Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, looked after her team of nurses during the pandemic as well as her husband, who is a registered nurse in an ICU at another Kaiser hospital. Her husband would come home from work with stories about telling a patient’s out-of-town relatives that their loved one

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |

was going to die, or of caring for a critically ill patient. She knew that if her husband was coming home with “this emotional and mental anguish and pain,” then every single nurse at her hospital was dealing with the same thing. “It was a magnifying glass. I just don’t get to hear all of the stories from our 1,300 nurses (at Kaiser Los Angeles), but I know they’re feeling the same thing,” she said. As a leader, Leido said, she was intentional about providing resources for them. Leido’s advice:Leido said she did a lot of listening — not only about day-to-day experiences, but also fears. Many of the concerns she heard from her staff (and her husband) were about not knowing when the increase in patients would slow down or when the pandemic would end. She provided a space to talk or cry for anyone who needed it. From that, she learned that many nurses carried a lot of guilt — especially when a patient died. “He’s an excellent nurse, but he would say, ‘I wish I could have done something different,’” she said about her husband. In these scenarios, she could tell a reassuring truth: They did the best they could; the patient knew they were cared for with Please see TOUGH, Page 11


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Globe Gazette

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

New ER nurse at MercyOne is grateful for learning opportunities MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

Robert Johnson decided to pursue a career in health care after working in the food service field, which included bartending. The Clear Lake resident is now applying his people skills to new his job as an ER nurse at MercyOne North Iowa. “I like to think of it as bartending with a few extra steps,” Johnson said. He and his fellow ER nurses interact with a varied patient population who are in various stage of their health journeys, according to Johnson. “It’s one of those jobs where no matter how bad the day is I at least leave knowing I helped people, so it’s very rewarding,” he said. When Johnson was looking to switch jobs and go into the health care field, he initially pursued a career in EMS before deciding to become a nurse. He began working as a tech in the ER at MercyOne three years ago while he was studying nursing at North Iowa Area Community College. After graduating as an RN last year, he began his new position as a nurse in September. Johnson said he loves being at Mercy because of its supportive work environment. He noted the other members of the ER team helped him make the transition to nursing. “They helped me with my confidence when switching careers,” he said. “It’s nice to be a nurse and be part of a group of people who all have the same goal and who all support each other.” He said his preceptors and those who trained him played a huge role in where he is today. During orientation at MercyOne, new nurses are exposed to different areas of the hospital. Johnson said this allowed him to see “all parts of the journey” once patients leave the ER. Johnson said he had a particularly good experience in pediatrics because it’s a population he’s not very familiar with as he doesn’t have kids. He said he learned how to keep these young patients calm and cooperative.


Robert Johnson Johnson was still in nursing school during the first COVID-19 surge in North Iowa. He said it impacted his education and training. During his clinical trials at Mercy when he was attending NIACC and his early days as a nurse, there were still a lot of COVID patients at the hospital. “It was pretty eye-opening to see just how sick people get,” Johnson said. “It was scary at first, but I work with a great group of peo-

ple that made sure I had what I needed for my own protection and to protect others.” He said he is thankful cases are now declining, noting it’s difficult to see people who were healthy before contracting the virus suddenly become very ill and suffer longterm outcomes. Miaka Tudor, a nurse and unit-based educator at MercyOne who played a part in Johnson’s orientation, said he “has been so

grateful for every learning experience he has been given.” Although Johnson hasn’t been a nurse for very long, he’s already had several patients write to him to thank him for the care he provided while they were in the ER, according to Tudor. “He just stands out,” she said. “He cares a lot. … He’s one of those people that you can’t not like.”


Globe Gazette

Tough 120% of you; this is a terrible disease; and there’s nothing more that you or anyone else could have done because we all are doing our best. Another way Leido has helped her team is by certifying her dogs Lani, a softcoated Wheaten terrier, and Feta, a golden retriever, to be therapy dogs. Lani was a respite for Leido after a long day at work, so she shared her furry support with her staff. Her dogs go to work once a week, and just about every employee at the hospital finds a moment to destress with them. Typically, students attending Cal State Fullerton’s nursing program need to fulfill a certain amount of direct-care hours, earned by working in a hospital setting, to become a nurse. In 2020, students earned their hours by assisting Orange County’s emergency pandemic operations. Penny Weismuller, director of the program, said the county public health department had students plan the conversion of a vacation facility to a hospital setting, conduct contact tracing and


When nurses are reaching their limits, Weismuller said, all public and private medical entities need to help them develop resilience. She serves on the board of the California Assn. of Colleges of Nursing, which preaches “resilience, reflection and reimagination.” “In order to develop resilience, we need a time to reflect on what we’ve learned, what we could do differently, and reimagine how we can enhance our care for ourselves and others, for the future,” Weismuller said.

From Page 9

Penny Weismuller

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |

How can the community care for nurses? Penny Weismuller, director of The School of Nursing at California State University, Fullerton and Registered Nurse Joelle Otteson, nursing faculty, in the Nursing Skills Lab on campus in Fullerton, Calif. administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines. “The hospitals didn’t have the capacity for them to go into critical care because they didn’t need the stress of a student at that moment,” Weismuller said. Weismuller’s advice: People need to recognize that health care workers are all humans and don’t have unlimited capacity to endure stress.


“In order to continue to provide care to other people, we have to take care of ourselves. ... We cannot burn through our bank of the amount of stress we can endure in our life,” she said. “It’s so important right now that those of us that are here need to be able to stay here as we get through the end of this pandemic hopefully.”

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Nurses The Times spoke to were unanimous: Saying a simple “thank you” goes a long way for health care workers. They also talked about working together as a community to end the pandemic by practicing hand hygiene, wearing a mask and following local safety guidelines. And Kaiser’s Leido emphasized vaccination. “The best way that you can help and provide support to all of our front-line health care workers, all of our essential workers, is to get vaccinated,” Leido said.



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Globe Gazette

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

“She’s just a very good, warm soul.” MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

For Amanda McLaughlin, an RN in the interventional radiology department at MercyOne North Iowa, nursing is all about relationships. “It’s more than just clinical,” she said. “I like to connect with the patient and have them know they can trust me and that I support them.” Karen Penning of Clear Lake said her late husband, Doug, bonded with McLaughlin when he was visiting the interventional radiology department twice a week as part of his treatment for liver disease. “She was always really good to him,” she said. In January 2021, after Doug was released from the hospital to in-home hospice, McLaughlin came to the house several times to see how he was doing. “She came with groceries and visited him,” Karen said. “She went out of her way. She was very compassionate. … The first time she came, she brought her little kids with her. That was nice.” McLaughlin also showed Karen how to perform parts of her husband’s care. McLaughlin said she doesn’t usually do home visits, but the Pennings specifically requested it. She said Doug had been a patient at MercyOne for a long time and she had built a connection with the couple. She also said she wanted to support Karen during her time of need. “I think a lot of people forget about the family members,” McLaughlin said. “We see these sick patients and the family members caring for the patients are going through a very difficult time and sometimes even more difficult time than the patients are. It’s really tough. There are some caregivers who literally don’t get a break, and that could be for years.” McLaughlin said Doug was a wonderful patient and Karen was very supportive of her. McLaughlin, a rural Manly resident who enrolled in the nursing program at North Iowa Area Community College a few years after high school, said she entered the profession to make a difference in her


Amanda McLaughlin community. “I try to do my best to make a positive impact on the people around me,” she said. She began her career at the Mitchell County Regional Health Center in Osage. She was there for a couple of years, and then went to work at Albert Lea Labor and Delivery. After three years there, she went to MercyOne, where she has been for the past three and a half years. McLaughlin said what she likes most about nursing is “being around people and hopefully making them feel more comfortable when they are getting into

what might be a scary situation for them, being supportive of them in an unknown environment, and helping them care for themselves after different procedures.” She said the most challenging part is “things don’t always go as planned for patients. …. We really start to build connections with and relationships with those patients, and when things happen, it’s hard.” Angela Culliton, interventional radiology supervisor at MercyOne, said there’s nothing McLaughlin won’t do to accommodate those who need a little extra un-

derstanding or extra time. “Amanda approaches everything through her heart,” she said. “She has a connection with patients, just the ultimate amount of compassion and patience and understanding. Where the rest of us strive for it, that’s her natural mode. Patients respond to it … She’s just a very good, warm soul.” McLaughlin said, “I love my job. I love my patient community. I love the culture and the people I work with, and I’m very proud to be part of the interventional radiology team at Mercy.”

Globe Gazette

Sunday, May 8, 2022 |


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| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

Good Shepherd Health Center

Good Shepherd nurse brightens the residents’ days MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

Vicky Murl, who has been a nurse for more than 30 years, was inspired by her mother, Alberta Robinette, a home health aide for Cerro Gordo County for many years. “I saw how she was able to help people every day and her job was really hard going into people’s homes, and she just influenced me to become a nurse,” Murl said. She told me, ‘Well, get a job where they’re not going to have a machine replace you, and they haven’t figured that out yet.’ Today Robinette is a resident of Good Shepherd Health Center, where Murl has worked for 26 years. When Murl was going through nursing school, she knew right away that she wanted to work in a nursing home rather than a hospital setting. “I like to get to know the people better and be able to make their days better in the latter part of their life,” she said. Murl graduated from North Iowa Area Community College as an RN in 1991. She later completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing online. Before coming to Good Shepherd, Murl worked at Americana Health Care in Mason City. Murl, a charge nurse, has been in the memory care until for nearly her entire time at Good Shepherd. “I just love the Alzheimer’s unit,” she said. “If I can make them (the residents) laugh or just smile at least once a day, my job’s done.” A lot of the residents’ family members are sad because they think their loved one with memory issues doesn’t know them, but Murl tells them that isn’t true. “They might not know my name or anything, but when I come up to them and say ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’ or whatever, they give me a big old’ smile,” she said. Murl said working in the memory care unit is “different from hour to hour, but you just have to go with the flow.” The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time for everyone at Good Shepherd, where the virus went through every


Vicky Murl floor in the building. “You just had to buckle down and get through it,” Murl said. Even under normal circumstances it is difficult to see residents pass away, especially if they have been there a long time, according to Murl. “You’re not supposed to get attached to them, but you do,” she said. But even though death is a frequent occurrence in a nursing home, “with COVID it was so sudden,” Murl said.

Katie Byerly, director of nursing at Good Shepherd, described Murl as “a very faithful and dedicated employee.” “To work that unit (memory care) as long as she has and as consistently as she has, you have to have a lot of patience,” she said. Lots of residents repeat questions because of their memory issues, and they “need a lot of reassurance on where they are at,” Byerly said. For example, they will ask the staff, “Where’s my husband?” or

“Where’s my mom?” Murl does a good job with validating the residents and then redirecting them so they focus on something else, according to Byerly. “She’s also a terrific teacher,” she said, noting Murl often helps orientate new employees. Murl is taking her mom with her to the luncheon for the North Iowa nurses being honored by the Globe Gazette. “She’s just thrilled about it,” she said.

Globe Gazette



Sunday, May 8, 2022 |


MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

MercyOne nurse volunteers to work with COVID patients despite being high risk MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

Jenni O’Donnell, a critical nurse at MercyOne North Iowa, had a calling to be a caretaker from the time she was a child. “I was always taking care of birds, sick animals, helping the neighbors,” she said. “I have a passion for helping people.” O’Donnell has been in the health care field for three decades. She began her career as a nurse’s aide at Good Shepherd in 1991. After a decade there, she began working at MercyOne. She completed her RN training at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota, while working and raising a family. She became an RN in 2008. What she likes best about nursing is “helping people get better.” The most challenging part is dealing with loss, according to O’Donnell. “It’s devastating when we lose patients, especially young patients,” she said. With elderly patients or those with long-term illnesses, death is sad but at least it is to be expected, according to O’Donnell. However, deaths due to accidents or self-harm are difficult to deal with, she said. The COVID-19 pandemic was a time of profound loss, according to O’Donnell. She volunteered to work at MercyOne in Sioux City for six weeks at the beginning of the pandemic even though she has a health condition that makes her vulnerable to the virus. She decided to go because North Iowa hadn’t been hit by COVID at that point but Sioux City had a huge number of cases. Although O’Donnell is diabetic and at high risk, she wanted to help take the strain off her fellow nurses in Sioux City. “Every nurse to me is my sister or my brother,” O’Donnell said. “They were struggling and I thought, ‘You know what? That’s my calling.’” She said the COVID cases in Sioux City, where vulnerable minority populations such as American Indians and Somalians are high, were heartbreaking.


Jenni O’Donnell “18-year-olds were dying, 20-year-old pregnant moms,” O’Donnell said. COVID cases were beginning to increase in Mason City when she returned from Sioux City in June 2020, but the big surge wasn’t until fall of that year, she said. O’Donnell’s sister, Holly Ames of Mason City, said volunteering to help with COVID patients at risk to herself is typical of her. “She’s the most caring person I’ve ever met,” she said. O’Donnell, a Mason City resident,

described herself as “the neighborhood nurse.” When O’Donnell’s neighbor had ALS, she would stay with her on her days off from Mercy. She also helps her elderly neighbors. “It’s just what I do,” she said. O’Donnell is an incredibly skilled nurse, according to Emily Orton, director of the ICU and nursing administration at MercyOne. She said she is trained in post-operative heart care and cathode ray tube (CRT).

Outside of work O’Donnell fosters animals and “takes care of practically everybody in her neighborhood,” Orton said, noting she will take neighbors to doctor appointments. O’Donnell oriented Orton when she started at the ICU 11 years ago. “I remember even as her orientee how supportive she was,” Orton said. “She got me a gift when I got off orientation. She’s so thoughtful. She goes above and beyond for her patients. … She’s the kindest person.”


| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

Oakwood Care Center

Oakwood Care Center nurse adjusts to new leadership role MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

When Brittany Rasmussen was 14, she suddenly became very ill and had to go to the hospital in Des Moines. “They had given me about an hour to live,” said Rasmussen. However, she not only survived but was inspired by the experience. After her three-week hospital stay, “I decided nursing was what I wanted to do,” Rasmussen said. The rural Forest City resident, who began working at Oakwood Care Center in Clear Lake in 2011, became the director of nursing six months ago. When Rasmussen first started the LPN program at North Iowa Area Community College, she did a pediatric/OB clinical rotation. She said she realized that wasn’t for her, so she got her CNA training and joined the Oakwood Care Center staff. After a year and a half, she decided “geriatrics was the place for me. … They are like a family. I feel like they are more fun than pediatrics.” Rasmussen got her RN degree from NIACC in 2018. She said one of the things she enjoys most about nursing is “you learn something new almost every day.” She likes seeing those who come in for therapy achieve their goals and go home. She also cherishes the relationships she develops with the long-term residents and their families. “Brittany has a very compassionate heart,” said Krystal Thoe, the administrator at Oakwood. “She has a very nurturing, calm soul.” Thoe said Oakwood promoted Rasmussen to a leadership role because “her approach is very gentle, but she’s honest. She’s a great caregiver. She’s also a pretty great leader in that she leads by example.” Rasmussen won’t ask a staff member to do anything for a resident – whether it be toileting them or giving them a shower – that she wouldn’t do for them herself, according to Thoe. Because Rasmussen started at Oakwood as a CNA, a lot of the staff she now leads were once her peers. This means


Brittany Rasmussen her relationship with them has changed although they have still remained friends, according to Thoe. She said Rasmussen is great at telling the staff, “This is what we want to try and here’s why.” Rasmussen not only switched to a different role which required a change in how she worked with her team, but she also did it during in the middle of the pandemic “when the regulations are changing every five seconds,” Thoe said. When Rasmussen first became the di-

rector of nursing, COVID outbreaks were still happening in long-term care facilities and there were changes regarding vaccination status, according to Thoe. She said care facilities are required by the federal government to do things a certain way, which can be difficult to manage. But even with all these challenges, Rasmussen is adjusting well to her new position, according to Thoe. “I look forward to her continuing to grow,” she said.

Jaden Parra started working at Oakwood as a nurse’s aide while Rasmussen was still an LPN. “I guess she was just one of the nurses I looked up to,” Parra said. When Rasmussen decided to go back to NIACC and get her RN degree, Parra was thinking about doing the same thing. Rasmussen “pushed me a little more” to do it, Parra said. Rasmussen is still one of the nurses at Oakwood that Parra turns to because of her experience.

Globe Gazette


Sunday, May 8, 2022 |


Tuition help for nurses GREENSHOOT MEDIA


ursing schools around the country are scrambling to bring new nurses into the workforce as the country faces a historic shortage of registered nurses. Here’s what it takes to become a nurse and some programs that could help you pay for school.

Nursing education

It takes between two and four years to finish a nursing degree, Nurse Journal says, and while an associate degree is the minimum requirement, many employers only hire those with at least a bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam and become licensed in their state. You may also want to become board certified, which may mean additional years of clinical experience.

Paying for nursing school

There are many programs to help those interested in becoming a registered nurse pay for their education. Johnson & John-

son provides a search tool to help you find scholarships and other financial assistance to help you pay for nursing school. Pinched by the nursing shortage, health care employers may also foot the bill for qualified candidates. Johns Hopkins University hospitals, for instance, offer an employee nursing grant that will pay $10,000 for students who work at one of their affiliate hospitals and are admitted to the MSNHSM and MSN/MPH master’s programs. You may also qualify for federal aid, grants, work-study programs and other tuition reimbursement programs to help pay your way through school. Talk to your chosen program’s financial aid advisors to learn more about the opportunities that may be open to you.

Loan forgiveness

If you took out loans to pay for nursing school already, there may also be loan forgiveness programs available to help you get out of debt. Nurses who work for a nonprofit or the government may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a


program through the federal government that forgives loans after so many eligible payments. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program will also pay up to 60% of your unpaid nursing student loans in return for two years of full-time employment. Nurses who work a third year may be able to get

even more debt forgiven. Another program, the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, will forgive loans for nurses who work for two years in a health professional shortage area. All of these programs have strict qualifications, however, so make sure you read the fine print before banking on any of them to take care of your tuition.


| Sunday, May 8, 2022



Globe Gazette

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center‌

Longtime North Iowa nurse passes knowledge on to NIACC students MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌

LaVonne Wolf has seen it all during her 27 years in nursing. She’s been a public health nurse, a hospice nurse, and a long-term care nurse. And during the past year she’s become a clinical instructor for nursing students at North Iowa Area Community College in addition to her regular duties on 4 East, the general medicine floor at MercyOne North Iowa. “Nursing is a very rewarding career for me,” Wolf said. “Each day, each shift, each patient is what you make it.” Wolf said when she was growing up she knew she wanted to help others. She began her career as a nurse’s aide. “I worked with some great patients as well as great mentors that encouraged me to further my education,” Wolf said. The Osage resident received her diploma in practical nursing and her associate degree in nursing at NIACC. She attending the University of Iowa for her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Before she began working at MercyOne nearly four years ago, Wolf provided long-term care as well as in-home hospice care in Osage and Charles City. She was also a home health/public health nurse for 18 years. Wolf said she enjoys “helping others and making sure they have what they need to be comfortable and heal as able (and) being there to listen when someone needs an ear or a shoulder to lean on.” She said her goal is to help her patients, co-workers — and now her NIACC students — learn and grow. The most challenging part of her job is feeling like she has done enough, according to Wolf. “Some days you know you have made a difference, and other days you feel as you could have done more,” she said. Wolf’s advice to other nurses is to “take each opportunity to learn, grow, and help others.” Lisa Forsyth, director of medical and short stay services at MercyOne, said,


LaVonne Wolf “LaVonne has a huge heart. Her compassion for her patients is remarkable … Patients love her. She’s just is really the epitome of what a nurse should be. She’s a super-caring individual.” Wolf also a highly competent professional, according to Forsyth. “She has kind of a soft-spoken manner,

but just really knows her stuff,” she said. Wolf’s new position has her working half-time with NIACC nursing students and half-time with Mercy. Forsyth said it’s been great seeing her develop into that role. “She is just so good with students and has really brought kind of a new interest

in 4 East as far as graduates, (and) new nurses go,” Forsyth said. “We have had a record number of new graduates wanting to come here to work.” Lisa Emerson, Wolf’s sister, said she’s very dedicated to her job. “She does go above and beyond. I think she is an excellent nurse,” she said.



A Healthy Work

Environment ‘Nurses’ physical and mental well-being have never been more important’


SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2022 |



or nearly every indicator, the American Nursing Association says, America’s nurses are less healthy than the average American. They’re more likely to be overweight, stressed out and tired. Workplace violence, injuries on the job and the 24/7 demands of the health care environment push many nurses to the breaking point. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that registered nurses have the fourth-highest rate of injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work when compared to all other occupations. Yes, even lumberjacks. To improve the health of America’s 4 million registered nurses, the ANA launched the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation movement five years ago. Its mission is to connect and engage nurses and organizations to help nurses get more exercise, rest, nutrition, a better quality of life and be more safe on the job. It’s a free program, open to everyone in the industry. There are more than 230,000 participants and more than 580 partner organizations. It was particularly vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, which tried nurses’ health like never before. “We encourage employers, professional associations and schools of nursing to share and amplify the vital HNHN resources that help nurses

combat burnout, manage stress and overcome trauma,” ANA President Ernest J. Grant, RN, FAAN, said. “Together, we can ensure our nursing workforce is at its peak health and wellness.” One of the things the program does is to match nurses with mental health resources, offering things like a free subscription to Headspace PLUS and other apps to improve the mental health and resilience of nurses across the country. It also organizes challenges for nurses to participate in for healthy eating, exercise and more. “Nurses’ physical and mental well-being have never been more important — to the profession and to every one of us who counts on nurses for health care and leadership,” said Kate Judge, executive director of the American Nurses Foundation. Matthew S. Howard is a nurse who participates in the HNHN challenge. He said he walks the dog and connects with family and friends regularly, even virtually, to improve his well-being. “A healthy mental lifestyle is so important to me right now,” he said. Sonya L. Clayton, another participant, said she carves out quiet time to help her mental health. “At night, I try to have at least 30 minutes of quiet time reading or doing something calming,” she said. “I also talk to my prayer partner every day, and that connection is so reassuring.”

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| Sunday, May 8, 2022

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