IN THIS ISSUE
2 In your words 6 Hope and hugs december 2012
Heffernan House: home away from home for patients, families see page 4
Volunteer Dorothy, â€œDotâ€? Schillinger, left, welcomes those in need of our hospitality.
in your words What’s the kindest action you’ve seen one of your colleagues take for a patient at St. Anthony’s? A patient was to arrive for an appointment to see me, the nurse educator, following an appointment in a different hospital department (we wanted to avoid multiple trips for this patient, who lived quite a distance away). We discovered that a scheduling error occurred, and the patient needed to see a dietitian educator instead of the nurse. Judith Schmitt, RD, LD,CDE, graciously agreed to adjust her schedule to see the patient on completion of the patient’s other appointment. However, the patient was unavoidably detained for more than an hour, and Judy stayed much later than usual on a Friday afternoon to accommodate the patient’s needs. Judy’s flexibility made the process look seamless, and the patient was none the wiser of any scheduling difficulties. Nancy Trebilcock, B.S.N., R.N., CDE
The brother of one of our fellow employees was involved in a horrible accident that has left him paralyzed. Patti Melton, a medical assistant who works in our office, has been visiting this patient at SAMC even though she had never met him. She introduced herself and asked the patient if she could stay and talk to him, even though the patient is unable to talk. From there a friendship began. She visits with him and prays for him. Patti spent hours thinking about how to help this patient communicate, and made up a laser pen to hook around his head and a letter board. He is now able to point with the laser to spell the letters of what he is trying to say. Patti is amazing and has a huge heart. Her passion is helping others and she shares her extremely sweet, comforting spirit with everyone she comes in contact with.
Outpatient Diabetes & Nutrition
Arnold Family Health Care
Maureen Donnelly, benefits rep, went above and beyond to help one of our employees who is on FMLA and needed to apply for long-term disability. The employee was having trouble getting some of her FMLA documentation together, and was in the benefit office looking for guidance. The employee had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and was short of breath. Maureen had the employee sit and rest while she (Maureen) walked down to Employee Health to get the information that the employee needed. Maureen then walked over to the Closed-Door Pharmacy to pick up a prescription for the employee, which helps her with her breathing. Maureen truly lived our mission by providing the best care to every patient, every day – sometimes the patients/customers are our very own employees. Gloria Jones executive assistant, HR Administration
An outpatient of mine is in the donut hole and struggling to pay for the insulin pens she uses. She has been in and out of SAMC with her multiple medical conditions, and money is tight. Office Manager Carla Matthews with Fenton Family Medicine rallied the other office managers in St. Anthony’s Physician Organization (SAPO) to locate samples for our patient in need. Donna Sertl with Lemay Internal and Family Medicine, Bonnie Diamond with Bowe and Associates and Pam Burke with Primary Care Consultants came up with the needed samples. I collected them from the offices and delivered the insulin in a home visit to a most appreciative patient. Meanwhile, we are looking at affordable medication options with the patient. Elizabeth Nichols, R.N., B.S.N. Medicare Advantage outpatient clinical & quality case manager SAPO spotlight | december 2012
The kindest thing that I have seen my co-workers do is to stop and pray with a patient or family member. Many times they are overwhelmed with anxiety or a new diagnosis. We as health care workers can explain and teach, but many times they just aren’t able to absorb or comprehend what we say at that time. Sometimes to STOP and give our human concerns to God and His almighty power is the only thing that will help. Marcia Schroeder, R.N. Endoscopy Center
‘In your words’ is devoted to you, the caregiver and employee. Watch for questions via the exchange users email. Each issue, four or five finalists are entered into a drawing for a $25 Target gift card, though all are winners!
CONGRATULATIONS TO THIS MONTH’S WINNER!
Community Health and Wellness
A simple smile is powerful. I smile at every patient, maintenance man, doctor, co-worker; and it doesn’t matter who comes through our doors, they will usually smile back. For a brief moment that individual feels welcomed, important. It can change your entire interaction with them.
spotlight | december 2012
‘ANGELS ON ASSIGNMENT’
HEFFERNAN VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE HOME AWAY FROM HOME FOR PATIENTS, FAMILIES
WHAT GUESTS ARE SAYING: “You provided shelter, a haven of rest, where you could be nourished and restored to face the next day.” “The suite is wonderful and the peace welcome.” “May God bless you for your kindness and love and hospitality.” “Thank you for such a nice, clean, spacious place to stay…as my husband said, ‘It is a “sweet,” suite.’” “How rare this house is for those tired and weary. It is a treasure!”
They’re tired, stressed, worried. Many have traveled a long way from home, and the end of their journey is far in the distance. Then they arrive at Heffernan Hospitality House, a storybook cottage situated just south of the hospital and operated by the volunteers of St. Anthony’s Auxiliary. They are greeted with a warm welcome by longtime volunteer Dorothy “Dot” Schillinger, volunteer coordinator at Heffernan, who is just finishing up a laundry load of sheets and towels. This is their home for the night, or a week, and they are grateful. “My husband and I would like to thank all the volunteers of Heffernan House,” Nancy, a resident of Wayne City, Ill., wrote to the volunteers in May 2011. “You are all angels on assignment. “This has been like a home away from home…a very beautiful and relaxing place to come after my back surgery, and rehab and walk in the garden. God bless you all; this stay will not be forgotten.” Schillinger has two guest books at the house that are filled with similar sentiments. When she leafs through them, she remembers each guest, each family, as if they had been there yesterday. She smiles. “This is the love of my life over here: I meet the nicest people,” she said. “I believe God works through us to bring calm and comfort to these families.” Guests have included the family that gathered together for dinner in the dining room for the first time in years, during their mom’s final illness; the parents of an infant in the Special Care Nursery, who lived too far from the medical center to make a daily commute; and the carnival worker from Louisiana who was scruffy and disheveled when he arrived for treatment at St. Anthony’s, but kept the volunteers in stitches with spotlight | december 2012
at a glance Heffernan Hospitality House 10044 Kennerly Road, 63128 We provide overnight accomodations for St. Anthony’s patients and their families. $45 for a bedroom with twin beds $60 for a one-bedroom suite take a tour: weekdays 8 a.m. to noon staff: 14 volunteers reservations/information: 525-7230 http://www.stanthonysmedcenter.com Dot Schillinger pulls warm towels from the dryer at Heffernan House.
his fun stories and delicious Cajun recipes. “He was just so much fun to be with,” recalled Schillinger, 84. “He looked us up a few years later, when he returned to South County with a carnival at a school picnic.” The feeling is mutual with the guests, who hail from locales ranging from Florida to Hawaii – one even came from Germany. At least one visitor referred to Schillinger as “Mom #2” for her kindness, assistance and support. Little wonder, then, that in 2008 the Auxiliary planted a southern magnolia tree in front of Heffernan House, in Schillinger’s honor. “She’s like the Energizer Bunny,” recalled longtime volunteer Evelyn Reker, herself a former employee of the medical center whose tenure dates to the old hospital at Grand Boulevard and Chippewa Street. Some other hospitals in the area offer freestanding lodging for patients and families, but St. Anthony’s Heffernan House is unique for the combination of its fascinating history, its unpaid staff and its location on the hospital campus. It’s also truly a home, a 70-plus-year-old brick cottage on Sunset Drive that once housed a large family, surrounded by rolling lawns and trees and shrubs, and the soothing sounds of a memorial fountain in the backyard. The Auxiliary raised the money to establish Heffernan House and pay for its upkeep. Opened in May 2001 and renovated in 2009, it is staffed by 14 volunteers who spotlight | december 2012
provide guest assistance from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. The house includes two living areas: two bedrooms that share a bath and rent for $45 each per night; and a suite, which has its own bath and rents for $60 per night. The Auxiliary furnishes dishes, linen, soda and snacks for its guests, who also have access to a fully furnished formal dining room, living room, recreation room, two kitchens equipped with microwaves, coffeemakers, toasters, dishwashers and refrigerators, and two bathrooms. Each bedroom is equipped with a telephone that includes a voice mail message system. Heffernan House is named for Ray Heffernan, a 46-year employee of the medical center and its former director of building services. “He was just a very approachable person,” Reker noted. “If you asked for a particular thing to be done, he made sure it was done, and he always had a smile on his face.” Historians believe the house was built around the remains of a log cabin on a 422-acre homestead belonging to pioneer Thomas Kennerly and his family in the early 1800s at present-day Kennerly and Tesson Ferry roads. For instance, the home’s fireplace is made of handcut gray stones, and contains a cast-iron arm that was designed to hold a kettle or pot. An abandoned well on the property is said to be deeper than the height of the Gateway Arch. And the lengthy saga of Heffernan House continues to be written with every family who stays there (now approaching 1,000). As one guest wrote, “Sensational! And almost surreal to be in this beautiful place of rest, comfort and peace.” 5
EMPLOYEE TURNED VOLUNTEER OFFERS HOPE AND HUGS ACROSS THE DECADES
Above: In 1955, Reker holds a baby in the nursery at the old St. Anthony’s hospital, Grand Boulevard and Chippewa Street, for a proud dad to see. Left: Evelyn Reker is the driving force behind St. Anthony’s Auxiliary’s “Hidden Treasures” gift shop in Anthony House. She also creates and donates several items sold there, including the ever-popular crocheted surgery rosaries.
“And remember…be kinder than necessary – everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly…and leave the rest to God!” Evelyn “Ev” Reker of South County lives by these words: for her, they represent much more than a pithy saying. For years, this retired St. Anthony’s employee and longtime volunteer has derived great satisfaction in bringing comfort to others with smiles and hugs, handmade creations and numerous kind gestures. “I am just an ordinary person,” said Reker, 78. “Doing for others means a lot to me.” Reker knows all too well the value of a kind heart and a helping hand. Through the years, she has transcended many life challenges of her own with the help of assorted “guardian angels.” She was the 14th of 15 children born to a troubled home in St. Louis. Her father was an alcoholic, and she and many of her siblings traveled through a series of foster homes, some of which resulted in mental and physical abuse. Her biological mom always kept track of the 6
children, though, and later reunited with Reker. “My mom always showed us this picture of this guardian angel standing over these kids on a bridge,” Reker recalled. “That means so much to me.” Angry and “pretty wild” when she left her final foster home, Reker married in her teens and had two daughters, Debbie and Diana, in short order. She soon took on two challenges, cancer and a physically abusive husband, and worked to rid herself of both. “That was a very trying time for me,” she said. “The kids had settled me down and meant a lot to me. I didn’t want to do to them what had been done to me.” She had reunited with her mom, Celina Louise Scharafinski, who took care of her children as she attended business school and met one of her first “guardian angels” Mr. Raskowitz, her boss at the May department store. “He just took time to talk to me,” she recalled. “He said I was a good person, and he wanted to help me. Years later, he came to St. Anthony’s as a patient, and I thanked him. I learned so much over the years, from so many decent people.” In the early 1950s she began working the midnight shift spotlight | december 2012
Evelyn Carrico, second from left, prepares for her 1961 wedding to Joe Reker at St. Cecelia Catholic Church in south St. Louis by pinning a corsage on her mother, Celina Louise Scharafinski. Looking on are her daughters Diana Lynn Carrico, left, and Debbie Carrico, right.
At her retirement tea on April 5, 2002, Evelyn Reker gathers for a photo with her boss, the now-retired John P. McGuire, former executive vice president and corporate finance officer at St. Anthony’s.
at the old St. Anthony’s Hospital, Grand Boulevard and Chippewa Street, caring for infants in the nursery. “I had my mom and two girls to take care of,” she said. “I would get my kids to St. Cecilia Catholic School, sleep some and then get them from St. Cecilia. After they were put to bed, I got the bus to St. Anthony’s. I loved working with the babies and parents. My mom was a loving person, and did a fantastic job taking care of the kids.” In 1961 she married Joe Reker, and in 1963 the couple welcomed a third daughter, Dannette. Joe and Evelyn Reker celebrated recently their 51st wedding anniversary and the completion of Joe’s battle with cancer. Through the years she worked a number of jobs, including St. Anthony’s Patient Accounts department and the front desk, before she retired in 2002. She’s also served as a volunteer in Pastoral Care and more recently as the driving force (and supplier of hugs) at the Auxiliary’s Hidden Treasures gift shop in Anthony House. She considers longtime St. Anthony’s volunteer Dorothy “Dot” Schillinger her guardian angel, and Schillinger is quick to return the compliment. “She’s my right hand in the gift shop,” Schillinger said. “When she sees somebody coming in the door, she jumps up to help them.” Since 1997, Reker also has created and given away thousands, of soft, crocheted rosaries in an array of colors spotlight | december 2012
that are blessed by Pastoral Care and bring comfort to patients who hold them during surgery. Joe Reker, also a volunteer, crafts little pocket guardian angel crosses from old wood. “People need that extra little ‘oomph’ sometimes,” she explained. “If I can give somebody hope, that’s great. “I don’t want to be mean or judgmental,” she added. “How do you know what a person is feeling or what they’re going through? You don’t.”
“People need that extra little ‘oomph’ sometimes. If I can give somebody hope, that’s great.” - Evelyn Reker
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK... Patients’ comments speak volumes about St. Anthony’s quality of care “The best care to every patient, every day” long has been essential to the mission of St. Anthony’s, and many of our employees live those words. Throughout the year, we recognize our co-workers for outstanding work. As we enter the holiday season, however, we thought it might be nice to let our patients have a say. These letters, emails and cards were sent to the medical center during the last six months: I do not want to mention the nurses by name, lest I forget someone, but please, pass along my family’s eternal gratitude for the kindness they showed my husband in the last days of his life… The Hospice group treated him with such dignity. We were able to bring him home and he died in his own bed, which was definitely a wish of his.
I am a retired R.N. I was hesitant about having surgery at St. Anthony’s, as I had always used another hospital. I want to commend you on the excellent service I received while a patient there. Everyone was kind, compassionate and very efficient. The nursing care was excellent.
My husband was hospitalized last weekend…I want to assure all the eighth floor folks that we always received a very rapid response to any need or want we expressed. And never did we receive an impatient word or look! We feel really comforted by all you kind and caring folks! Thank you so much for being there for us…you are the reason we will continue to choose St. Anthony’s for our medical care as much as possible. If it were up to me, I’d give you all a raise!
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that I had a great experience with the group of doctors and staff that took excellent care of me and made me feel that I was the most important person at that time. I would like to give a personal “thank you” to your ER team. You should take great pride in knowing that you have an excellent staff, and I hope you will take the time to let them know that their hard work and attention to detail did not go unnoticed.
I’m a middle-aged man who has been lucky enough to never have had surgery before. I just wanted to let you know that everyone that I interacted with at St. Anthony’s was very friendly and personable. No one “wants” to have surgery, but I felt like if it had to be, that the staff did their best to put me at ease and to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
This will officially be the first time I have ever written a love letter to a staff of people…your staff did nothing but ease me and make me feel incredibly comfortable and welcome. The people in Labor and Delivery made me have absolutely no worries that I was in the best hands. Thank you SO much from the bottom of our hearts, for making our first days with our second child so amazing.
Your staff is, as Tony the Tiger says, “G R E A T!”
You are professional and yet very compassionate. I feel you go the ‘extra mile’ for the patients, and I must tell you, it is more than appreciated by this family.
Spotlight is published quarterly by the Marketing department at St. Anthony’s Medical Center. Editor: Robbi Courtaway, ext. 6894 Graphic design/layout/photography: Christy Siebert, ext. 6835