Thursday, July 29, 2010

Camp Nurse? Who? Me?

This week’s blog is written by Sheryl Baarda, the nurse manager of our OB department. This story resonates with me as I spent many years as a camper and counselor for a church camp in Northwest Iowa. Sheryl tells a wonderful story of her time as a nurse for a camp for kids with a real need for such an experience. Just one more example of the amazing professionals I am honored to work with every day.

Camp Nurse? Who? Me?
That’s what I was thinking the first time I headed out to become a camp nurse for an Angel Tree camp. This camp is for children who have some big challenges in their young lives. These children have a parent in some kind of correctional facility or halfway house situation.

I am a person who attends church each Sunday, sits in the pew, listens to the sermon, and then goes on my merry way. Oh, sure, in the past I have been a Sunday School teacher, a family night teacher, and taken a few photos for the church. But as my career as a nurse leader began to change, so did my working hours. I always had the excuse that I had to work nights, weekends, and holidays, so I didn’t have time for those church activities.

For the past year or so, I had been having the feeling that I needed to do more to give back to the world. About that time, I read an article in one of my nursing journals about mission work. It stated if you aren’t quite ready to make a big leap, start small. Look for something around home. The next Sunday, a flyer for an Angel Tree Camp located near my home was in the bulletin. It was like God was saying, “Okay, Sheryl, you can’t get much closer to home than this.” I sent them an e-mail and the rest fell into place.

My job as a camp nurse includes lots of duties. I help check kids in, take stock of those kids on medications, and set up the meds for the week. Throughout the week, I dispense medications and care for bumps, bruises, headaches, tummy aches, rashes, and more. This year, it seemed like I was extremely busy, handing out band-aids right and left. I have found that a lot of the aches are more a cry for attention than anything else. The campers are more in need of a hug and some love.

Some of these kids have behavioral issues. They don’t know how to deal with their emotions, including their anger. When you begin to hear some of the stories of their home life you can understand why. Some undergo emotional and physical abuse. One little boy in particular had a smile that melts your heart. He also has a terrifying scowl. When I learned he had suffered abuse (having his mouth taped shut with duct tape, for example.) I began to understand some of the emotions he was displaying.

I’ve been doing this job for a few years and I am always amazed at the counselors and how they deal with these kids. They show them unconditional love. Most of the counselors are college and high school students. They take on a tough job. They are with these kids 24 hours a day for a solid week. It is wonderful to see the bond that takes place. Some of these kids don’t get attention, love, or hugs at home. The counselors are constantly holding hands, carrying the small ones, and giving piggy-back rides to one camper or another.

These kids LOVE to sing! They radiate joy. They also love to listen to and act out Bible stories. It is awesome to see 45 kids sitting quietly, mesmerized by the story. It is so quiet you can hear a pin drop.

I hate the last day of camp. It is sad because the week has flown by so quickly. I also hate it because some of the kids don’t want to leave and go back to their home life. They cry and cling. It is heartbreaking. I just want to fix it for them, and I know I can’t. It brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it. When I arrived home after my first camp experience, my husband Craig asked how it went. It was at least 15 minutes before I could even answer him for all the emotions I was experiencing. The first words out of my mouth were, “Our grandkids are so blessed.” They don’t know how wonderful and easy their lives are compared to other kids. Angel Tree Camp provides these kids with a week of love, joy, fun, and adventure. It is a great mission in my own backyard. I highly recommend that everyone find a mission to support and spend time with. It can be hard work, but the rewards are amazing.

Sheryl Baarda, RN, nurse manager, Kintzinger Women’s Health Center

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Buck Starts with You

The “Buck Starts Here” for Poweshiek County public health funding. That really means the first step in distributing public dollars for health care is assessing the needs of county residents.

In the healthcare world, we make assessments on a regular basis to gather valuable information from key players who have a stake. So, when it comes to prioritizing healthcare barriers and issues in Poweshiek County, who better to ask than county residents?

Feedback from local residents helps focus our county’s energies and resources on healthcare issues that apply to our residents. This feedback is gathered through a Community Health Needs Assessment. The survey is part of a mandate by the Iowa Department of Public Health for all counties to complete an assessment every five years. The IDPH understands the notion that health issues are owned by the community, not the government or a special sector of the community. Hence, the IDPH asks all counties to complete an assessment of their county, identify the health issues, and develop a health improvement plan customized to their residents. In Poweshiek County, the board of health works with Grinnell Regional Public Health to gather feedback needed to take on issues that we face locally

Those of you who read my column are passionate about healthcare. We invite you (if you live in Poweshiek County) to participate in the Grinnell Regional Public Health assessment survey. Take the survey and voice your opinions about health in the county.

We all have a say in making changes. And when residents voice their concerns, they take ownership in the issue and solutions. Take a stand on where the local healthcare dollars are directed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A True “Internet Baby”

My generation grew up with TV. We were often referred to as “cathode tube babies.” My kids grew up with computers. We might call them “micro chip babies.”

This past weekend, a baby was born at GRMC while his father was deployed thousands of miles away serving this great nation in the military. For generations, babies have been born while fathers have fought wars half a world away. News about the new baby came through letters or telegrams. This weekend Grinnell Regional used Skype for the first time to bring the father right into the birthing room to witness in real time the birth of his first son and support his wife through the labor and delivery. Sometimes we bemoan technology’s takeover of the world. In this case, technology was truly miraculous as the miracle of birth unfolded.

Certainly, cameras, phones, and digital recording devices have been a mainstay in delivery rooms for years now. In this case, the first idea was to video record the birth and send the recording to the Middle East so Dad could see the birth of little Gabriel. Then mom mentioned that she and her husband had been using Skype as a communication tool during the final two months of the pregnancy and the idea popped up to use the computer to link the family together for the birth. Thanks goodness for the wireless router we installed last year. It was amazing!

When Des Moines television station KCCI heard about the story, they sent a crew to Grinnell to check it out. The story can be found on their web site at the following link: I posted the link yesterday quickly. It was a feel good, human interest story of the best kind.

I may have been a TV baby. Little Gabriel is truly an “internet baby!” Congratulations to Mom and Dad on the birth of their son. And thanks to all the folks—the doctor, nurses and in this case, the information technology team at GRMC—for going the extra mile to make sure this Dad was “virtually” in the room to see the first few breaths of his son!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Story from the Heart

Click here to watch a heartfelt story that has all of life's important elements. Hope you enjoy watching this touching story.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Gift

The movie Pay it Forward has many wonderful messages about embracing life and giving to those you love—and even those you do not know. When individuals complete an advance directive or living will, you are in fact giving a gift to those you love. You are providing direction on how you want healthcare decisions to be made even when you cannot articulate those decisions.

In general, families can rarely weigh potential outcomes and make decisions from the same perspective as in the time of crisis and stress. We all judge differently what quality of life means. The time to discuss wishes for healthcare is when it can be discussed from a broader view. You can provide a wonderful gift to your family members should they face having to make difficult health decisions for you. You pay it forward when you have an advance directive, durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions, and living wills in place.

Though many of us do not want to think about being unconscious and unable to make decisions, these documents can be critical when facing that crisis. We never know when that may be.

The time to discuss these concerns is long before the crisis that calls families together outside of emergency departments or ICUs, a time when emotions are high and logical decisions seem to be difficult to determine. It truly is easier when you are planning toward a future event, not when that event is thrust upon you.

When you complete these legal documents, the hospital can retain a copy of your wishes in your medical record so it is available in an emergency – another way to remove some stresses in a crisis.

GRMC will host a program called, “Put Your Wishes in Writing,” that will address advance directives, living wills, and durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions. It will be Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. in the Tomasek Conference Center. Call 641-236-2418 to reserve a seat. Even though the program is free, it is very valuable to those you love.

We hope you will never need to use these documents but should the crisis arise, you are better prepared. I have my advanced directives and I urge each of you to consider getting your wishes in writing. It is easy to do and will help if the time ever comes when you are not in a position to speak for yourself.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Postels Community Health Park Celebrates a Decade

Wow! For 10 years now, Postels Community Health Park has been helping to meet the needs of the East Central Iowa. At every major advancement of GRMC, you can see philanthropy at work. Postels Community Health Park is no exception.

About 11 years ago, the Postels and Heimsoth families donated their building in the center of Grinnell to the hospital. The large building has an interesting history. Prior to its life as a health park, the Postels and Heimsoths used it to operate their very successful Budweiser distributing company. The facility began life at the turn of the century (the last century that is) as a hotel across the street from Central Park and a block away from the train depot. The two-story building really has been an important fixture in Grinnell’s history.

Today, 10 years after the Postels and Heimsoths turned this special building over to GRMC, the health park is a centerpiece of our outreach program. The three fundamental functions at the facility are: a hemodialysis center (provided by the University of Iowa), the Galaxy Youth Center, and GRMC’s integrated health center.

The dialysis center has been vitally important to meeting the needs of our diabetic patients closer to home. The Galaxy continues to grow and maintain a place for our youth to enjoy structured social and learning time. The integrated health center offers our community access to state-of-the-art massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, and other holistic therapies.

GRMC has been a recognized leader in integrated health. We offer other community hospitals a model for blending the best in modern and complementary therapies for optimal healing.

We owe many thanks to the Postels and Heimsoth families for their generosity and kindness in the donation of their building so we could expand our mission in such an innovative and necessary way. I can only imagine what the next 10 years will bring as we continue to find creative ways to use this building for health improvement!

Best Shot for Better Care

Last week, GRMC held its 21st annual golf outing at the Grinnell Golf and Country Club.

In 1989, Chris (our PR and development director at the time) generated the plan to hold our first “friendraiser” on the links. The idea, of course, was to find an excuse to play some golf and raise some money for GRMC’s mission while enjoying the friendships that often occur on the green. It was a huge success. All these years later, it is still going strong.

I have had the privilege to play in 16 of the outings. In all those years, we have amazingly only experienced one rain delay and never a rain out! This past Friday, Mother Nature blessed us with a gorgeous June day in Iowa. It was a fabulous tournament.

For the past nine years, Leslie has coordinated our annual event. Once again, with the help of GRMC’s development staff and PR team, she pulled off another flawless outing. Leslie is moving on to other things, so this was her last golf outing with us. I want to thank her for all her efforts over the years! This year in addition to having a great event, we raised more than $12,000 for the medical center. This would not be possible without the support of both participants and sponsors. For the 2010 event, our lead sponsors were Bernie Lowe and Associates, Grinnell State Bank, JELD-WEN and Windstream (Iowatelecom). I sure appreciate their continued support of this event and, more importantly, our mission of service to the community.

This year we played a four person best shot, with two teams on each hole. It is quite the spectacle to see eight players tee off on each hole and make their way to the best shot for each team. Although my team did not win (or for that matter even place in the top half), we had a lot of fun! My son, Grant, played with me this year. It was great having him join in on the fun. At my first GRMC golf outing, he was a toddling 1-year-old. Now he is taller than me and out-driving me by 20 yards!

Grant takes his turn at teeing off.

GRMC’s donors come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes they create a bequest or reply to our annual fund drive solicitation. Other times they make a planned gift or memorial to mark the significance of a special person. Big or small, each gift to GRMC makes a difference in the lives of those we serve.

While the GRMC golf outing is a fundraiser, I think Chris had it right 21 years ago when he tagged it a “friendraiser.” At its core, this particular event brings friends and neighbors together in the name of curing and healing. Whether it’s “closest to the bed pan” or putting with lead lined radiology gloves, we have lots of fun and support our patients on every hole. FORE!