Time for Spring Cleaning? Get rid of old electronics and more at Electronics Recycling Event June 1

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital invites the public to do their part to support environmental recycling efforts by hosting an E-Recycling Event for electronics on Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The collection vehicle will be located in the parking lot in front of the Health Center at 3 St. Elizabeth’s Blvd., O’Fallon, IL. 

“As a Franciscan ministry, we strive to be good stewards of the Earth and proudly offer collection events such as this to the community,” states Donna Meyers, Director of Mission Integration, Spiritual Care and Community Benefit. “It is an opportunity to reduce waste and treat the planet with respect.”

J&C E-Recycling will be managing the electronics recycling collection and will pay for some items including: computer towers, computer components, laptops and wire. Other items accepted include:  

• Printers

• Cell Phones

• Electric Motors

• Monitors

• Floppy Drives

• Keyboards, Mice

• Speakers

• Electronic Motors

• DVD/VHS Players

• Battery Backups

• Modems

• Computer Fans

• Batteries

• LCD Screens

In addition to the above, appliances will be also accepted including refrigerators, washer/dryers, dishwashers, freezers, small appliances (blenders, bread machines, hair dryers, etc.), TVs, lawnmowers, weed eaters, lawn tools and microwaves. 

Please note that there will be a $.50 per pound charge for TVs, (plasma, console, projection-DLP) CRT and monitors.

For specific questions on if an item will be accepted, call J&C E-Recycling at 618-233-5009. 

All donations are tax deductible. St. Elizabeth’s Mission Integration Committee thanks everyone for their donations to help us serve the community. 

Through their Franciscan ministry, St. Elizabeth’s follows in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. Below are a few more simple ways that you can do the same and become environmental stewards to the earth.

Bag it.  When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags. This preserves resources by cutting down on the huge number of paper and plastic bags that are discarded after a single trip. 

Shop at your local farmers’ market. This will help support farmers in your area and decrease the miles you drive to buy food.

Save on water. Drink water from the tap, instead of buying single-use bottled water, which requires much more energy to produce, store and transport. Use water filters if you are concerned about your local water supply.

Think before you print. With increased access to smart phones, iPads and laptops, oftentimes a hard copy is not necessary. Switching subscriptions and bill receipts to be sent via email is another great way to lessen paper waste.  

To stay informed of this event and other events, visit www.steliz.org/calendar.

Acting F.A.S.T. during stroke can save life and function

Stroke is currently the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, with a stroke occurring every 40 seconds, yet 80 percent of strokes are preventable. 

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot, or bursts or ruptures. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it and brain cells die. 

“During National Stroke Awareness Month, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital along with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association encourages everyone to learn the warning signs and symptoms of stroke. Knowing how spot a stroke and acting FAST can save a life,” notes Misty Dickey, BSN, RN, CEN, Stroke Facilitator for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

The acronym F.A.S.T. teaches people to recognize a stroke and what to do if one occurs:

F – Face Drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? 

A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T- Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Additional stroke signs include: Sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.

Studies show that patients who arrive in the Emergency Room within the first three hours of their first symptoms, have better outcomes and less disability than those that delayed care.

 “The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly, so patients should ALWAYS call 9-1-1 if a stroke is suspected.  Immediate treatment and early intervention may minimize the long-term effects of stroke,” shared Dickey. 

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital serves as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital and offers a stroke telemedicine program, which connects stroke patients at St. Elizabeth’s to world-class neurologists using an audio and video connection through a telemedicine robot. When potential stroke patients arrive at St. Elizabeth’s, they receive appropriate treatments immediately to ensure the best outcomes possible. St. Elizabeth’s also has an Intensivist-led Critical Care Department and an Acute Rehabilitation Unit to provide region-leading care to maximize each patient’s recovery capabilities. 

Dickey also stresses the importance of understanding that while stroke risks vary by age, they can happen to anyone.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009, 34 percent of people hospitalized for stroke were less than 65 years old.  

According to the American Stroke Association, risk factors for developing a stroke include the following: 

Age – The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the elderly, many people under 65 also have strokes.

Heredity (Family History) – Your stroke risk may be greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. 

Race – African-Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. This is partly because African-Americans commonly have higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Gender – Each year, women have more strokes than men, and stroke kills more women than men. History of preeclampsia/eclampsia or gestational diabetes, smoking and post-menopausal hormone therapy may pose special stroke risks for women. Be sure to discuss your specific risks with your doctor.

Prior Stroke, TIA or Heart Attack – The risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is many times more than that of a person who has not. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are “warning strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. TIAs are strong predictors of stroke. A person who has had one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn’t. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. TIAs should be considered a medical emergency and followed up immediately with a health care professional. If you have had a heart attack, you are at higher risk of having a stroke.

To learn more about St. Elizabeth’s Stroke Telemedicine Program, visit www.steliz.org/stroke or to learn more about St. Elizabeth’s Stroke Support Group call 618-234-2120, ext. 52004. An online private support group is also available through Facebook. To join, simply log in to Facebook and search “Stroke & Recovery Support Group at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s,” then request to join the group. 

Prenatal and Infant Loss Memorial Services offered locally through Share Program

Jessie Mesa, RN and Share Coordinator for HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital stands with Reverend Ralph Williams and Father Linus Umoren during a recent Share Memorial Service for
families affected by the loss of a child. (Submitted Photo)

HSHS St. Elizbeth’s Hospital recently held a memorial service for parents and family members who have experienced prenatal and infant loss. These commemorative services will be held quarterly to offer comfort, closure and hope to families.

The service was held at Lake View Memorial Gardens in Fairview Heights, which generously donated the location for St. Elizabeth’s memorial stone. The stone is inscribed with the following message: “An angel opened the book of life and recorded my baby’s birth, then whispered as she closed the book, too beautiful for earth,” and “The Lord stood with me and gave me strength.” 2 Timothy 4:17, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.” 

“With one in four pregnancies ending in loss, we are pleased to be able to offer special memorial services to area families,” said Jessie Mesa, RN, Share Coordinator for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. “Even though early pregnancy loss is common, the feelings bereaved parents experience after the death of a baby can be overwhelming and intense, as the death of a baby at any stage is very real. Parents not only begin a journey of recovering physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, and our hope is that these memorial services will help in this process.” 

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s Share Memorial Stone, now located at Lake View Memorial
Gardens, serves as a place of remembrance and hope for families navigating the loss of a child. (Submitted Photo)

“We sincerely thank Lake View Memorial Gardens for their donation to St. Elizabeth’s Share Program to help our grieving families on their healing journey,” noted Reverend Ralph Williams, of the Spiritual Care Department at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. 

Each year there are 900,000 early pregnancy losses, over 26,000 stillbirths, and approximately 19,000 neonatal deaths in the United States. Too often, the grief and loss felt by parents may not be understood or accepted by society. Parents are often expected to simply pick up the pieces and move on – back to “normal” life. Even close friends and family sometimes struggle to understand the depth of emotions bereaved parents may experience which can both strain relationships and unnecessarily prolong the grief process.

St. Elizabeth’s partners with Share, a national pregnancy and infant loss support organization, to best assist families as they navigate losing a child. Share provides support toward positive resolution of grief experienced at the time of/or following the death of a baby. This support encompasses emotional, physical, spiritual and social healing, as well as sustaining the family unit. 

To learn more about support services through Share, visit www.nationalshare.org or contact St. Elizabeth’s Share Coordinator at 618-234-2120, ext. 31254.   

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to host baby safety class focused on safe sleep

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital (Submitted Photo)

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the Pregnancy Care Center are hosting a baby safety course on Monday, April 22, presented by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon.

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, said the two-hour baby safety class teaches caregivers the importance of safe sleep for infants. 

Winkler said while the class is primarily for underserved populations, anybody can register for the class. Winkler said the class is targeted toward prenatal mothers who are preparing for the arrival of their child as well as fathers, grandparents and infant guardians. 

At the class, caregivers will receive a bag of safety items, a folder with educational information about caring for your infant and a Pack ’n Play (some restrictions apply).

The baby safety class is funded through a grant Cardinal Glennon has from Kohl’s Cars and is free to all of the mothers and caregivers attending. 

“I do these classes all over Missouri, St. Clair County and Madison County,” Winkler said. “I like to get [mothers] in the pre-natal stage because we like for them to be prepared instead of when they are in the hospital and saying how they don’t have a car seat or that the baby would have to sleep with them,” Winkler said. 

Per guidelines for sleep safety for infants, Winkler said babies should never sleep in a bed with an individual. She noted Pack ’n Plays are the “gold standard recommendation” for sleeping infants. 

“With a Pack ’n Play, it will fit in the same room as parents,” Winkler said. She said the baby should be in the same room with its parents for the first six month of life up to the first year. 

“Never are they to be in the same bed with anyone,” she stressed. 

“A lot of parents will get bassinets but the problem there is that the bassinets are only going to last that mom for about the first couple of months and then the baby gets too big for it,” she said. “The peak time when babies are at most risk for dying from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is two to four months.”

Winkler said in some households, babies may outgrow their safe sleep environment at a critical age and with limited resources available — babies may wind up in the bed with a parent. 

Another benefit to Pack ’n Plays, according to Winkler, is that they are portable. 

Because a lot of parents are moving from place to place or have another family member watching their baby, Pack ’n Plays offer flexibility. 

Winkler said those attending the baby safety classes may vary from first time parents to those on government assistance with limited resources available to them. 

“I will never turn someone away that states they do not have a safe place for their baby to sleep,” Winkler said. 

Winkler said infant mortality rate is very high nationwide. “Nationwide, about 3600 babies will die under the age of one year old from a sleep related death,” she said. Sleep related deaths includes SIDS and also accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. 

“About 1575 babies will have the cause of death listed as SIDS — that means over 2000 of these babies are dying from something that is preventable,” Winkler said. “That’s suffocation.” 

The baby safety classes also focus on child passenger safety, poison prevention, home safety and gun safety. 

“If anyone has a firearm and does not have a lock, we have gun locks available that we will provide them at no cost,” she said. 

Winkler said an important takeaway from the baby safety class that all parents should know is that infants should always sleep alone, on their backs, in an approved sleep environment. 

The baby safety class, in partnership with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, will take place April 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Belleville Health Center fourth floor education room at 180 S. Third Street. 

Registration is required by April 11. You can sign up at the Pregnancy Care Center or call 314-268-2700 ext. 1309 and leave name and phone number to confirm your reservation. 

Get paid to start your health care career

Lleyna Gorka, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s Patient Care Tech program facilitator congratulates Cailey Smotts for completing the training program. 
(Submitted Photo)

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. Health care occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups but the costs of getting trained for clinical care positions may be higher than some can afford. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital looked at this issue and developed a new program to create a bridge into the industry. 

The hospital’s new Patient Care Tech (PCT) program began as an opportunity for current colleagues to train on-the-job to open additional job paths within the hospital and HSHS system. Its start-up success has led to opening up the application process to the public. 

The PCT program is an 8-week paid training program that combines classroom education with hands-on clinical experience. The program consists of two classroom days every week for four weeks. Time is also spent working on a hospital unit for the first four weeks, followed by a four-week internship supported by preceptors. 

Some patient care technician programs require students to pay for the program, which could be cost prohibitive to some who are working full-time already and may not have the means or time. St. Elizabeth’s program is somewhat unique because participants learn on the job and, upon successful completion of the program objectives, have a position at the hospital. 

“The initial idea was to have a mechanism for our internal colleagues, who already had the heart and compassion for clinical care, with on-the-job training to provide the next steps towards a fulfilling career in hands-on patient care as a patient care tech,” said Regina Peterson, DNP, RN, Division Director Clinical Education and Professional Development, SID Float Pool and SID RN Residency. 

The first cohort of the PCT program started in January and the students celebrated their transition ceremony, a form of a graduation for the participants, on March 19, 2019 to celebrate the completion of the program. 

“If it wasn’t for the PCT program, I would not be here with you today,” said Cailey Smotts at the transition ceremony. A member of the first PCT cohort, Smotts worked in many health-related fields including in a pharmacy, a physical therapy clinic, as medic in the army and currently as an EMT but her previous experiences, though valuable, didn’t translate a into the necessary certification to get hired as a clinical nurse assistant or other patient care positions.  

“The first cohort was composed of beautiful people from many different backgrounds who came together to build a small family,” Smotts said. “St. Elizabeth’s Hospital made it apparent to us quickly that we were not part of something ordinary or small, but rather we were joining a family that had a larger mission.”

Program facilitator Lleyna Gorka, RN, BSN, shared that many of the first cohort had the passion for caring and this gave them the opportunity to bring their joy and mission-driven personality to a higher level of care. Members included current employees from Environmental Services, Food and Nutrition Services and other clinical support departments within the hospital. 

“It’s a paid opportunity to learn,” said Gorka. “This program provides experiences, tools and onsite training to enhance skills students may have gathered from past positions and give them added support to grow in the clinical care field. I’m truly proud of the first group and very excited to continue to grow the program.” 

“With St. Elizabeth’s PCT program, we are instilling not just the clinical skills but the culture and tradition that comes with the long history of service that St. Elizabeth’s has,” she added. 

The second cohort will start in April 2019. Applications are currently being accepted for the next cohort of the PCT program. Applications are available online at www.hshscareers.jobs. To learn more about the program email Gorka at Lleyna.Gorka@hshs.org or call 618-234-2120, ext. 12548. 

Colorectal Cancer: Preventable and Treatable

Dr. Deirdre Hart

While colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in men and in women, but the second most common cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined it is most important to know that it is preventable and highly treatable if detected early.  

Dr. Deirdre Hart, colon and rectal surgeon with Lincoln Surgical Associates, Ltd. and on staff at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, said there are risk factors people should be aware of when it comes to colorectal cancer including genetics, family history, excessive alcohol and tobacco use and increasing age. 

“Part of the problem with colon and rectal cancer is you tend to be asymptomatic until you reach the later stages and have problems with obstruction or being blocked up or bleeding,” Hart said. Hart works on the entire colon and also performs colonoscopy procedures. 

Hart shared some signs and symptoms that may represent colorectal cancer are changes in bowel habits, changes in stool frequency or stool size, bloody stool, fatigue or unexplained weight loss.

“The guidelines for screening have recently changed,” Hart said. “It’s now recommended you undergo screening at the age of 45, which is different than age 50 that everybody is used to.” According to Hart, if you have a first degree relative (parents or siblings) that has had colon cancer, it is recommended that you start screening at age 40 or 10 years before that person was diagnosed.  “If you had a family member diagnosed at age 40, you would want to start at age 30.” 

Hart said while there are several methods of colon screening, “the gold standard is colonoscopy.”

“The goal with a colonoscopy is to find polyps before they become cancer,” she said. “Most colon cancer starts as polyps and over several years change into colon cancer.” There is a spectrum of different types of polyps and they can change into colon cancer at different rates depending on the type.

“If we do take out polyps during a colonoscopy, we let the pathologist look at them and that helps determine when you need your next colonoscopy,” Hart said. If polyps are too big to be taken out during a colonoscopy, it could mean that a section of the colon would be removed during a separate surgical procedure. 

“For most colon cancer, once we have a diagnosis, we do imaging studies to make sure it hasn’t spread outside the colon,” she said. “If it hasn’t, the primary treatment is surgery. For rectal cancer, sometimes we recommend chemotherapy and radiation before surgery, depending on the imaging findings.” 

“Generally, people aren’t great at screening for colon cancer,” Hart said. “A significant portion of the population does not get a screening in any form at the recommended intervals. We are finding cancer at a later stage because they were not worked up until they had problems.” 

Hart said over the past several years, colon cancer incidences have actually decreased, but screening is still not taking place as much as it needs to. 

“I think it’s up to both the general population and the medical community to work together to help increase the screenings that we do,” Hart said. 

Colorectal Cancer Awareness month is observed nationally every March to challenge assumptions and misconceptions about colorectal cancer by dispelling myths, raising awareness, and connecting people across the country with information and support. 

“I think there are a lot of people that put it off and don’t want to be screened because they don’t feel like they have any symptoms,” she said. “That’s why I think it’s important for people to know that we want you to get screened when you’re not having any problems to prevent you from having problems.”

Hart said individuals with no polyps or family history of colon cancer may receive a colonoscopy every 10 years, but that interval can be shortened after discussion between a patient and their doctor. 

“In the older population, the incidences are going down and screenings play into that,” she said. “In the younger age group, we are seeing an increase of colon and rectal cancers and I think that does have to do with diet and environmental factors.” 

Hart said herself and gastroenterologists at St. Elizabeth’s are working to try and screen as many people as possible, and she encourages an open dialogue between patients and physicians about scheduling a colonoscopy. 

To further educate the general public, Dr. Hart is speaking on colorectal cancer risk factors, signs and symptoms, plus current screening methods and treatment on Thursday, March 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in St. Elizabeth’s boardroom. Seating is limited and RSVP’s are required. To register, email stemarketing@HSHS.org. 

Celebrate Sister Thomas Kundmueller during National Catholic Sisters Week

National Catholic Sisters Week was launched in 2014 as an official component of National Women History’s Month, which runs through March. The week is intended to raise awareness of the profound impact of religious women and, in particular, to connect them with young women through a myriad of cross-country events held March 8-14. 

This week is intended to honor the nation’s over 47,000 Catholic Sisters and all who have gone before – founders of schools and hospitals, artists and activists, leaders and spiritual guides for all walks of life.  

“HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is proud of its long-standing dedication and commitment to health care in the metro east region,” said Director Mission Integration/Pastoral Care/Community Benefit Donna Meyers, MSN, RN. “We also take special pride in the fact that our organization was founded by faithful women and continues to have a majority of women leading the growth and development of our health care organization.”

The foundation of the Hospital Sisters began 175 years ago, in Telgte, Germany. At the pilgrim Shrine of Our Lady of Grace Chapel, a small number of women made a religious commitment, becoming the first Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, a religious Order founded by Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM. The Order’s purpose was to take care of the sick poor in their homes in rural areas. Later on, they continued the care of the sick in homes, hospitals, and on the battlefields.

In 1875, the Hospital Sisters accepted an invitation from Bishop Peter Baltes of Alton, Illinois, to bring their health care services to his Diocese. Twenty Sisters were chosen for the mission and made the three-week journey across the Atlantic. The Sisters then traveled from Alton to be missioned to different areas, one of which was St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville.

 Through the last century, the Hospital Sisters continued to support their health care ministries through service in the hospital and on various boards along with keeping the thousands of colleagues, patients and communities in their prayers. One local Sister who continues to help at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for noon Mass every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is Sister Thomas Kundmueller, OSF. 

For over 65 years, Sister Thomas dedicated her life to the to service of the Church as a member of the Hospital Sisters of St, Francis. Her Franciscan connection began very early in her life. The oldest of seven children, Sister Thomas’ religious vocation was influenced by her family and her parish community of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Regarding her first thoughts on joining a religious Order, she recently shared, “I was in World History Class when I decided to be a nurse, a Franciscan, and a missionary.” She felt this was the way she wanted to make a difference in the world.  

She chose the Hospital Sisters for two reasons: another woman, Sister Chaminade Kelley, from her parish joined the Hospital Sisters and more importantly, her pastor at the time stated it was the Hospital Sisters who saved his life when he fell ill. 

Sister Thomas professed first vows in 1950 and perpetual vows in 1955. She then began nurse training at St John’s Hospital in Springfield. However, half way through her training, the needs of the community took precedence, and Sister Thomas was asked to teach Algebra for high school girls. 

“Thankfully after two years I was able to go back to school to be a nurse,” she noted.  

She became a surgical nurse and her first assignment was St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham. She addressed the challenges and the demands of surgical nursing and she also spoke of the calm and supportive presence of Sister Paulette Collings, who always mentored the newer nurses. She later spent 10 years as a surgical nurse in Japan.  

When Sister Thomas returned from Japan, she served as a nurse at several of the HSHS hospitals including St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, where she worked on the 6th floor. 

“I still remember one patient that was suffering from pancreatic cancer who was clock maker. I got to know the patient and his family very well and we became friends. He was making me a clock with flowers on it. When he passed, the family finished the clock and gave it to me. That is a very special memory for me,” she said.

In 1989, Sister Thomas ventured into another area of nursing. She joined Sisters Mary Ellen Rombach and Carol Ann Baltosiewich in the newly established mission at Bethany Place in Belleville, assisting people afflicted with HIV/AIDS. During her years of serving at Bethany Place, Sister Thomas has experienced the effects of progress in the medical care and social services made available for those experiencing this condition.

“The colleagues at St. Elizabeth’ Hospital deeply appreciate Sister Thomas and all of our Hospital Sisters for the many years of dedicated service in living the Gospel of Jesus through their work,” Meyers said. “Please join St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in celebrating and honoring Sister Thomas and all the Catholic Sisters across the country and in our communities.”

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital names national DAISY, BEE, and I Promise Awardees

Health care, in general is a challenging industry. Clinicians and support staff deal with highly emotional situations daily that can be stressful to all involved. They are helping people when they need it most and share with patients many experiences, from the excitement of babies being born to the sadness when someone receives news of a tough diagnosis or negative outcome.

Employees in the health care industry are often driven to this career path because they are up to the challenge and it can be extremely rewarding. This is why you often find the most caring and empathetic people drawn to this field and that’s the case for colleagues at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. 

St. Elizabeth’s recently awarded three colleagues who have gone above and beyond in living the hospital’s mission “to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry.”

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, Elizabeth Govero RN MSN (center), awarded Mona Wann, RN, (left) the National DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and Gillian (Gigi) Garland, CNA the BEE Award for going above and beyond for their patients. 

Mona Wann, RN was awarded the national DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Wann has served as a Registered Nurse for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for 20 years and currently works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  

The nomination was submitted by one of her patients who referred to Wann as “a blessing.” The nomination shared, “Mona is a very kind, compassionate person… Mona is the type of nurse you feel an instant connection to. Thank you, Mona, for being there for me and for the wonderful care you provided. You are extraordinary!” 

“Receiving the National Daisy Award is wonderful,” Wann said. When asked about being acknowledged for her efforts, she shared, “It’s an honor to be recognized, but as a nurse, I am simply doing what I love. Caring for patients is a privilege – and I very much enjoy helping our patients in any way I can.”  

The hospital also recognizes support team members with a companion award to the DAISY, aptly named the BEE Award for Being Extraordinary Everyday. Just as a daisy cannot survive without a bee, nurses rely on the outstanding teamwork provided by support colleagues to further enhance patient care and safety. 

Gillian (Gigi) Garland, CNA of the Telemetry B Unit was the most recent BEE awardee.  She was nominated by a patient’s daughter who said, “Gigi has taken great care of my mom during her stay. She is very attentive to her needs and even takes time to take care of the little things which mean so much. She is always very kind, patient, and shows she sincerely cares about the people she is taking care of. She also shows concern for the family members! This is my first visit to this location – I’m so happy and thankful that Gigi was here to help care for my mom!” 

Garland noted, “I love what I do. No matter how tough the day is, at the end of it I’ve helped someone – and that’s really the silver lining; that’s what I enjoy.”  

Donna Mabra (center) recently received the I Promise Award from ICU Nurse Manager Kacey Frederking and Amber Badolato, Manager of Patient Experience and transport at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. 

The third colleague awarded was Donna Mabra, Unit Secretary in the ICU, who received the hospital’s monthly “I Promise” award. This award recognizes both clinical and non-clinical hospital colleagues who have been nominated for demonstrating the hospital’s four Core Values of Respect, Care, Competence and Joy.

Patients and visitors to St. Elizabeth’s can continue recognize staff who were important and impactful to their care by visiting https://www.steliz.org/Patient-Guest/Recognize-a-Colleague. 

Staff and patients celebrate Cardiac Rehabilitation Week at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Last week staff and patients celebrated Cardiac Rehabilitation Week at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, as part of February’s ongoing activities for Heart Health Month. 

The highlight of the week came on Friday, February 15th during the celebration and recognition luncheon for all current and past Cardiac Rehab patients. The heart-themed luncheon served patients a heart healthy menu and offered St. Elizabeth’s staff an opportunity to thank the patients.

“Being Heart Month and Cardiac Rehab week, we truly just wanted to celebrate these individuals. This luncheon is a sign of our love and support for each patient who walks through our doors and chooses us to help in their recovery,” said Program Facilitator Nicole Toennies.

St. Elizabeth’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program serves men and women of all different ages and health backgrounds. Patients have had heart attacks, coronary blockages, open heart surgery, heart transplants, heart valve repair or replacement and heart failures. It is a medically-supervised exercise and education program that assists patients in returning to normal activities such as work, hobbies and regular exercise, with the ultimate goal of improving their confidence and well-being to living a longer and much healthier life.

The Cardiac Rehab staff at St. Elizabeth’s has a combined experience of more than seventy-five years in cardiac rehab alone. Staff is involved in the recovery process for each patient starting at day one of their hospitalization. The cardiac rehabilitation program is offered in three phases. 

Phase One begins while the patient is still in the hospital. A follow-up with the patient once they have returned home starts Phase Two which is the outpatient, monitored rehab program. Phase Three is the maintenance program for individuals who would like to continue exercising within a supervised environment. 

Patients also have access to weekly education classes, provided as individual and group sessions. Classes discuss heart healthy tips and ways to prevent future heart disease, as well as sessions with the registered dietician and pharmacist. Additional specialized programs are provided to the patient through a stress counselor, respiratory therapist and spiritual care. 

The program also has developed camaraderie between the patients and lasting relationships with the staff.

“This program becomes more than just a gym membership. Some of the patients we see weekly… we get to know them and meet their families. We have so many past patients who even just drop in to say hi when they are visiting,” said Toennies. 

Toennies says the program schedule allows for relationships to be built not just between the physicians and the patients, but between the patients themselves.

“We have set class times and the patients come early so they can hang out and chat in the waiting room. It is so neat to see these individuals connect and build relationships. If someone is off for the day, other patients are worried about them,” said Toennies. 

Cardiac Rehab Week also serves as a celebration of the staff. 

“To say we each love working in Cardiac Rehab, is an understatement. Upon completion, patients often say they feel better than they have in years. Seeing their progress from day one to program completion is the ultimate reward. It is obvious that the staff truly care about each individual. As the Coordinator, I couldn’t be prouder,” Toennies said.

The program requires referral from a patient’s personal physician, and a majority of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services are covered by most insurance carriers. Insurance verification and registration is done within the department for convenience for patients. Contact program facilitator Nicole Toennies at 618-234-2120, ext 12947 for more information.

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital accepting application for Rotating Art Exhibit program

 Artist Sharon Aach and husband Douglas Aach, MD, of Lincoln Surgical Associates Ltd.

Art can play a powerful role in bringing comfort and relief to those receiving treatment or care in a hospital setting.  HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is proud to showcase the work of local and regional artists to further enhance the healing environment inside their newly built facility.

St. Elizabeth’s is announcing a Rotating Art Exhibit program to provide public space at the hospital for visual artists to display their work an extended period of time, approximately five months per show. 

The art exhibits will be displayed along the hallway off the hospital’s main lobby on the first floor.  

The hospital hosted its first inaugural rotating art exhibit this past November which showcased the work of Sharon Aach, a local artist who donated several of her works to St. Elizabeth’s when the new facility opened in 2017. 

A self-taught and self-representing artist from the Belleville area, Aach employs a reverse painting technique with mixed media materials behind glass panels to inspire and share joy through her uplifting vibrant glass paintings. Considered to be somewhat experimental and unconventional, being self-taught has thoroughly allowed her to develop her own pure organic style. Inspired by music and nature, she has developed her own creative process that is both automatic and emotional.

While Aach has created art in various forms throughout her life, it was not until 2014, after retiring from a 25-year medical career, that she started composing her art on a full-time basis. 

Aach’s work is still on display at the hospital and the public is welcome to view it. In addition, people can view more of her art at www.SaachArt.com. All pieces in the current exhibit are available for sale with 15% of all proceeds from art sales to be donated to HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Foundation. Prints are also available. If you are interested in purchasing any items, contact the artist directly at sharon@saachart.com.

Artists interested in participating in St. Elizabeth’s Rotating Art Exhibit program must complete an application, available at www.steliz.org/art, by March 15 for the next exhibit scheduled in May. Future exhibit dates are also noted online. A portfolio of work is required and a committee of colleagues, community members and local artists will oversees the art program to choose exhibitors. As St. Elizabeth’s is a Franciscan health care ministry, all work must be appropriate for a public building and complement the healing atmosphere of the hospital. More detailed guidelines are noted in the application. 

“Check the Fridge” Initiative to Get Medical Information to Fire Department and EMS Responding to House Calls

In a medical emergency at your home, how would the first responders know what medications you are taking, especially if you were incapacitated? 

For emergency responders, patient medications play an important role in assessment and treatment.  Keeping a list of current medications, allergies, insurance information and other medical information for emergency situations is important.  Having an accurate list ensures the safest, most efficient transfer of information to emergency personnel, the hospital and other health care workers.

Prairie Heart Institute of Illinois and HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital are introducing a program called “Check The Fridge” to aid Fire Department and EMS in getting current medications, allergies and medical conditions when responding to house calls quickly.  The “Check the Fridge” kit consists of a fill-in medication form and magnetic vinyl sleeve that can be put on the resident’s refrigerator so that responders who arrive at a home can quickly “check the fridge” to have access to current medications, allergies, medical conditions, pharmacy and physician information.

Why is it so important?

• More than 60% of adults in the United States who are over the age of 65 take at least 5 medications each week.  15% take at least 10 medications a week.

• Inconsistent recordkeeping and lack of knowledge are responsible for 50% of all medication errors in the hospital and cause up to 20% of adverse drug events.

• In an emergency situation, many patients are not able to speak or remember all medications that they or a loved one is taking.

“The Check the Fridge initiative will assist area EMS responders in obtaining a current medication list in situations where the patient is unable to provide that information. An accurate medication list can help EMS responders provide focused pre-hospital care which will result in better patient outcomes,” notes St. Elizabeth’s Manager of Emergency Services Brad Perry, AS, NREMTP, FP-C.

Dr. Jeff Shafer, Emergency Medical Services Director at St. Elizabeth’s agrees, “We can assess a patient and administer the most accurate and appropriate care much faster when we know the patient’s most complete medical story:  medications, allergies, medical conditions, etc.  Having that information readily available will ensure that we do the best we can, as quickly as we can in situations where seconds count.”

St. Elizabeth’s EMS outreach team members will be educating local EMS and Fire Department personnel about the program. 

A public educational program about the Check The Fridge program and take-home kits will be offered on Saturday, February 23 at the O’Fallon Public Library as part of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s “Healthy Hearts” event. After this date, kits will also be available for pick up in the main lobby of St. Elizabeth’s at 1 St. Elizabeth’s Boulevard in O’Fallon. 

Last April, St. Elizabeth’s was formally recognized as a Region 4 EMS System Resource Hospital by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and continues to offer partnering agencies clinical, operations and educational programs to further enhance relationships with area EMS professionals and better serve the public for all emergency situations. 

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital partners with Bridge Bread to support program addressing homelessness

2019 marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. Since their start date in 1875, the Hospital Sisters have been caring for patients in Illinois, Wisconsin and other locations in the United States and across the world. Today, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is a multi-institutional health care system that cares for patients in 14 communities in Illinois and Wisconsin. 

The Mission Integration Committee of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is dedicated to keeping the foundational mission principles founded by the Hospital Sisters in the forefront of the hospital’s colleagues. The committee presents numerous events and educational opportunities each year for both the public and employees to participate and shows how they can carry the light of the Hospital Sisters forward in today’s modern world. 

An upcoming event planned is an on-site sale with Bridge Bread™ on Wednesday, February 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the St. Francis Room, located in the main lobby of the hospital. This event is open to the public.

Bridge Bread is a social enterprise designed to provide job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. The goal of the program is to help the disadvantaged engage in a financially rewarding effort that enhances self-worth, promotes dignity and enables them to help themselves.

“Our colleagues live our mission each day by delivering quality health care to the patients inside our walls but, as a Franciscan ministry, we also look for activities that are a respectful response to the truth that all people are created in God’s image and seek ways to further serve those in need in the larger community,” said Director of Mission Integration, Spiritual Care and Community Benefit Donna Meyers, MSN, RN. “By bringing in the Bridge Bread organization, we are able to offer space and support the great work they are doing. Colleagues appreciate creative ways to live the mission in all aspects of their life. Bridge Bread is one of those opportunities.”

Products to be offered include handmade signature loaves of bread, bagels, brownies, cinnamon rolls, baguettes and dinner rolls.

This is the second sale that the hospital has hosted and Meyers noted that the entire inventory sold out at the first one so the sale time has been expanded and Bridge Bread will be bringing more inventory. 

All proceeds from the sale at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital will go back to Bridge Bread.

Fred and Sharon Domke founded Bridge Bread in 2011 and the first retail location for the Bridge Bread opened in 2015. There are now two locations, one in St. Louis and another in St. Charles. Donations to support special programs and equipment purchases are welcome. 

According to Bridge Bread’s website, those experiencing homelessness have few opportunities to become productively employed. The Bridge Bread program allows them to participate with minimal training and minimal commitment. After training and establishing a positive work record, their workers become more employable and can move on to more traditional jobs.

More information about donations and the Bridge Bread organization can be found at www.bridgebread.org.

Other events supported by St. Elizabeth’s Mission Integration Committee include food and school supply drives, hygiene products and sock collections to benefit Cosgrove’s Kitchen in East St. Louis, feast day celebrations of patron saints of the hospital, and ongoing support of a Colleague Assistance Fund. 

MDsave and HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Partner to Help Patients Save Money and Access Needed Care

MDsave and HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital are working together to help local residents without insurance save money and get more of the medical care they need. Through the MDsave marketplace, patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital will have access to a wide variety of medical procedures at upfront prices up to 60 percent off the average market cost, as well as simplified billing and educational resources. 

According to a 2018 report from the National Center for Health Statistics, 28.5 million Americans had no insurance coverage at all in 2017, according to a population report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Heath care expenses often prevent many individuals and families from getting medical care they need, especially preventive procedures that could help stave off future health issues. MDsave and St. Elizabeth’s are working to create better options for these patients.

“In today’s marketplace, health care can be confusing and expensive, especially for consumers who are uninsured,” said St. Elizabeth’s Director of Finance Matthew Brandt. “This service can help these patients, who are not enrolled in an employer or government-sponsored health insurance plan, with access to the same quality health care they have come to expect at our hospital, at lower cost.”

MDsave.com empowers patients to take more control over their health care decisions by offering transparent pricing and educational resources on diseases and treatments. Patients can geographically search by procedure, provider, specialty, or ailment, and compare local pricing. The process is upfront and easy. Just choose the best option, add to your cart, and check out online – the price posted is what you pay.

“Working with HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, we are taking an important step toward making health care more accessible and affordable,” says Paul Ketchel, MDsave co-founder and CEO. “We know that the cost of preventive treatments is often a factor in consumers neglecting to have them. We hope that our strategic alliance will increase access to quality medical care and, as a result, help save lives.”

To make health care more accessible for consumers with high-deductible health plans, St. Elizabeth’s also offers financial assistance.  For more information, visit the hospital’s web site at steliz.org.

To find out more about the procedures available through MDsave, visit mdsave.com/hshs. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is part of the Southern Illinois Division of Hospital Sisters Health System, which also includes HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese, HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland. 

Angela Nelson, BSN, RN named Stroke Coordinator at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Angela Nelson, BSN, RN

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital recently named Angela Nelson, BSN, RN, Stroke Coordinator for HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Teleneurology Stroke Program. 

Nelson, a resident of Okawville, Illinois, has experience as a critical care RN in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Emergency Department. Her leadership roles in the Cardiology as well as Physician and Outreach Services have allowed her to explore clinical growth, leadership, development, and networking opportunities that ultimately focus on the best possible outcomes for residents in the area. 

She has been a Registered Nurse since 2006 and is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at McKendree University with a focus on Leadership and Management. Upon completion, she will apply to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Her certifications include Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS),  Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC). 

In the Stroke Coordinator role, Nelson is responsible for developing clinical care standards and appropriate services for stroke care, tracking data and ensuring compliance with national stroke measures. Additionally, she aids in rapid response of acute stroke patients and assists with the use of telemedicine to provide comprehensive stroke assessment and treatment. 

 “It is my honor to serve St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and our region as a leader in acute stroke care,” said Nelson. “I plan to continue building our relationship with the community and EMS that will provide the education needed to help patients get to the hospital quicker, which can improve outcomes after stroke. It is a privilege to be part of a team that saves lives and gives second chances.”   

On January 6, 2017, Nelson was affected personally by stroke. “I was circulating a case when I received notification that my father suffered a massive stroke. He was doing what he loved most, writing stories for a community he loved. That day changed my life forever, however I have used that tragedy to focus on improving outcomes for patients over the entire region,” she noted. 

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has served as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital for the region since 2014, as designated by the Illinois Department of Public Health. St. Elizabeth’s was the first hospital in the Metro East to gain this designation. The Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital designation ensures that St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is prepared to adhere to written emergency stroke protocols and is able, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide the following:

• thrombolytic therapy (tPA) used to break or dissolve blood clots,

• brain image testing (CT scans), and

• blood coagulation studies.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and is one of the most preventable causes of disability.  

Nelson additionally stresses that 80 percent of strokes are preventable by controlling risk factors like smoking, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  

“It is important to catch a stroke early, but even more important to prevent strokes. Recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke and immediately going to an acute stroke ready facility, like St. Elizabeth’s, can make a difference in the number of treatment options available for stroke patients,” said Nelson. “A strong stand against stroke takes powerful collaboration and training. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has assembled the right doctors, technology and stroke-ready team to treat a stroke FAST.”

The public is encouraged to learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke, which include: 

• sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

• sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

• sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Follow this F.A.S.T. acronym if someone is exhibiting any of the above symptoms:

• FACE – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• SPEECH– Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

• TIME – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

St. Elizabeth’s also offers a free Stroke Support Group for patients and family members affected by stroke. To learn more or to attend, call 618-234-2120, ext. 52004. For more information on St. Elizabeth’s Emergent Stroke Ready Designation and Stroke Telemedicine Program visit, www.steliz.org. 

Call the Midwife

Tasha Meyer, CNM

Many women tend to think of midwives in a simple, supporting role capacity but a midwife is, in fact, a professional trained specifically in assisting women with every aspect of pregnancy, from prenatal care to delivery. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital offers a Midwife Program in the Women and Infants Center to support mothers-to-be.

Midwives are advance practice nurses that are Masters prepared, specially trained in women’s health, prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal care. They are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) which means they are able to provide all the care an OB/GYN does, in an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Liz Nolker, CNM

St. Elizabeth’s has partnered with Heartland Women’s Healthcare since 2016 to offer the Midwife Program to patients in our region.  The team includes five midwives who plan and bond with pregnant moms way before its time for the delivery. 

“This is patient care centered around each woman’s individual needs,” said Deb Meidel, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager of Women and Infants Center. “We want to make sure we are making women comfortable, delivering safe care, and abiding by their wishes for their pregnancy and baby’s birth.”

Marion Reyes, CNM

Patients in the Midwife Program have access to St. Elizabeth’s midwives to answer questions, bring comfort, and when ready, to skillfully deliver a baby. They are available to provide an immediate evaluation if time is of the essence before the patient’s doctor comes in. Collaboration and consultations is ongoing between midwife, physician and hospital labor and delivery staff.  The program also offers more immediate care for pregnant women in the program who are not in labor. If a mother is concerned about an issue, she can call the midwife or the Women and Infants Center anytime of day. 

In addition to the Midwife Program, St. Elizabeth’s provides quality care to pregnant women and their families. All rooms in the Women and Infant Center are private. SSM Health Cardinal Glennon pediatricians are available in the newborn nursery and emergency department for an added level of care when needed. The unit offers personalized pain management programs including nitrous oxide and dedicated anesthesia within the unit 24/7, numerous prenatal classes, lactation support and many other amenities. 

Jennifer Shopinski, CNM

Any patient of Heartland Women’s Healthcare Center has immediate access to be seen by St. Elizabeth’s team of midwives during their pregnancy.

Midwives are focused on communication and education through the entire pregnancy, to help prevent complications in childbirth. They also emphasize the physical, emotional and social needs and wishes of each patient so each mom-to-be gets the most satisfying birth experience possible. 

Shannon Waller-Davis, CNM

For additional questions about the Midwife Program or other services at the Women and Infants Center, call at 618-234-2120, ex. 31260.