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Mercy Dominates MOD Nurse of the Year Awards

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Mery's March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Winners: Karen Heembrock, 
Judy Davidson, Chelie Muraski, Barb Sicking, Angel Mortensen,
Donna Frazier, Kara Ranft, 
DeAnn Wilson, Linda Newberry and Angela Novak.

Not pictured: Kierstin Nowack

ST. LOUIS - Mercy nurses won more than half of the awards at the 4th Annual March of Dimes (MOD) Nurse of the Year Awards Gala Oct. 11. The awards honor Missouri and Metro East nurses who exemplify an extraordinary level of patient care, compassion and customer service.

The March of Dimes presented awards in 19 categories during their gala at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis. Mercy nurses won in 10 of the19 categories: nine from Mercy Hospital St. Louis and one from Mercy Hospital Jefferson. 


Mercy Hospital


Judy Davidson

Mercy Hospital St. Louis


Karen Heembrock 

Mercy Hospital Jefferson

Emergency Care

Angel Mortensen

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Behavioral Health

Chelie Muraski

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Women's Health and OB

Linda Newberry

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

General Medical (Adult Care)

Angela Novak

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Critical Care

Kierstin Nowack

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Student Nurse

Kara Ranft 

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Rising Star

Barb Sicking

Mercy Hospital St. Louis


DeAnn Wilson

Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Advanced Practice



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Mercy Joplin Trauma Status Returns Post Tornado

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Joplin, Mo. (July 1, 2015) - Mercy Joplin has been recertified as a Level II Trauma Center by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Division of Health Standards and Licensure.

To be recertified, Mercy underwent a survey by a team from DHSS, which included an on-site visit to various areas within the facility as well as case reviews. 

To attain this designation, Mercy had to meet several criteria, including:

  • A long-standing commitment  to trauma care 
  • Well-equipped facility with the latest technology
  • Integrated physician structure
  • High level of education and credentialing of nurses for trauma patients
  • Radiology support and easily accessible equipment
  • Operating room with necessary staff

“This recertification from DHSS further validates what we, as a team at Mercy, have worked so hard to achieve,” said Dr. Charles Ro, trauma director. “We can once again offer the highest level of care for the injured patients that seek help at Mercy Joplin.”  

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Nearly 800 High School Students Attend Mercy’s Health Careers Exploration Day

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Students get hands-on experience in a one-stop-shop setting. 
MEDIA: To download photos, please double click to be redirected to Flickr.

ST. LOUIS – Saving babies, stitching up after surgery, and inserting a chemotherapy PICC line are just a few examples of the hands-on opportunities nearly 800 area high school students had a chance to experience at Mercy Hospital St. Louis’ Health Careers Exploration Day.

With more than 30 departments and nearly 200 co-workers, students asked questions about educational paths, career opportunities and anything else to help broaden their view of health care careers.

Webster Groves High School senior Madison Massarello is interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, and while she had some areas of interest coming in, she said the experience really opened her eyes to what’s possible.

“This has been super beneficial to someone going to the medical field,” Massarello said. “I didn’t know some of this stuff existed.”

Roosevelt High School senior Ebony Moore isn’t set on her career path but has interest in pharmacy, construction and physical therapy. She said it helps to visualize what the jobs are. “The names of jobs aren’t that interesting, but showing hands-on demonstrations is really helpful.”

It’s not only the students enjoying the day, but the school staff loves it for what it provides to students. Kim Litzou, supervisor for Rockwood’s Partners in Education program, said the program helps broaden horizons while narrowing focus for students.

“The experience created here can be life changing, life defining,” Litzou said. “We’ve had students change their career path because of what Mercy provides here.”

Litzou said Rockwood Partners in Education places 600 students in career shadow programs, 30 percent of those in the health care field. She added, “Kids wouldn’t get this type of experience in a shadow program because of the variety and the hands-on experience made available all in one day.”

Lindsay Ahrens, Mercy recruiter and coordinator of the Health Careers Exploration Day, is happy to hear the day is worthwhile for students. “We really wanted to create an atmosphere where students can ask questions, learn and get hands-on experience without feeling intimidated. In addition, it helps students understand the variety of opportunities in health care beyond doctors and nurses.”

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Celebrating Saints Among Us

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Crystal Riesenberger, RN, is consistently recognized by patients.

ST. LOUIS - This year, as we celebrate Mercy Day - the opening of the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, in 1827 - we also celebrate co-workers who exemplify Mercy values and mission.

“My golden rule: Care for my patients the way I would want others to care for a member of my family,” said Crystal Riesenberger, RN,  Mercy Hospital St. Louis trauma surgery unit.

For Riesenberger, the decision to become a nurse was personal. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she saw how the nurses cared for her after surgery and during chemotherapy and radiation.

“The oncology nurses were a great inspiration, and to this day my mother still speaks highly of them,” Riesenberger said.

She wants to have that same impact on the patients she cares for today. To Riesenberger, patients aren’t just a room number, a disease or condition to be treated, but people.

Although Riesenberger admitted she is tone deaf, she has been known to sing to certain patients. “I do my best to get them to smile or laugh, even if it’s only for a minute or two, because in that moment they forget that they are in the hospital,” Riesenberger said.

Recently recognized on Mercy’s Facebook page, one of Riesenberger’s trauma surgery patients said in part: “Crystal actually somehow made it more enjoyable. I am not sure how with the excruciating pain I was experiencing. Crystal actually made me feel like I was being taken care of by a friend. Can you imagine your nurse being your best friend too? That was how amazing my stay was with Crystal on duty.”

Harris is one of many “Saints Among Us” at Mercy.

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Mercy Clinic in St. Louis Welcomes New Doctors

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New physicians join Mercy Clinic
(double click to download photos from Flickr).

ST. LOUIS - Mercy Clinic, the multi-specialty physician group affiliated with Mercy Hospital, recently added new doctors.

David German, MD, plastic and hand surgeon, joined Mercy Hyperbaric and Wound Care, 11700 Studt Ave., as medical director. He earned his medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed residencies in general surgery and plastic surgery at Saint Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

Syed Huq, MD, hematologist and oncologist, joined Mercy Clinic Oncology and Hematology. He will see patients at both the Clarkson/Clayton (15945 Clayton Rd.) and Chippewa (6435 Chippewa St.) locations. He comes to St. Louis from Mercy in Rolla, Missouri. Huq earned his medical degree from Bangalore Medical College in India, and completed an internal medicine residency at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, and a hematology/oncology fellowship at the University of Missouri – Columbia in Columbia, Missouri.

Herbert Lubowitz, MD, internal medicine physician, joined Mercy Clinic Internal Medicine –Creve Coeur, 12855 N. Forty Dr. In private practice for 35 years, Dr. Lubowitz earned his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center in Bronx, New York.

Paula Oldeg, MD, emergency medicine physician, joined Mercy Clinic Emergency Medicine. She will treat patients in the emergency department at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. She earned her medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed an internal medicine residency at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

Patricia A. Williams, MD, family medicine physician, joined Mercy Clinic Urgent Care – Fenton, 1203 Smizer Mill Rd. She earned her medical degree from the University of Missouri - Columbia School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri, and completed a family medicine residency at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

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Mercy Hospital St. Louis Burn Center Receives Certificate of Verification

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Mercy Burn Center physicians and co-workers gathered
to celebrate the verification achievement.

ST. LOUIS – The Burn Center at Mercy Hospital St. Louis was recently verified as an adult and pediatric burn center, the only verified center in Missouri.

Burn center verification is a voluntary joint program of the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma. To achieve verification, Mercy met rigorous standards for organizational structure, personnel qualifications, facilities resources and medical care services. The verification highlights Mercy’s high quality patient care for burn patients from time of injury through rehabilitation.

“This national designation shows our patients and surrounding community the commitment we have made to provide the highest quality of care to those who need our services,” said Dr. Michael Smock, Mercy Burn Center director. “People may not think they’ll never need burn care, but when they do it’s good for them to know the level of care we provide.”

According to the ABA, burn injuries result in more than 500,000 hospital emergency department visits and approximately 50,000 acute admissions in the U.S. each year. Most burn injuries are relatively minor and patients are discharged following outpatient treatment at the initial medical facility. However, of the patients who require hospitalization, about 20,000 are admitted directly or by referral to hospitals with special capabilities in the treatment of burn injuries.

The Mercy Burn Center, a 12-bed unit, is the only facility providing comprehensive acute and reconstructive burn care for adults and children in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois.  Mercy Hospital St. Louis treats 256 burn patients each year.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy’s east Missouri region, is a 979-bed comprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a nine-level heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center, a comprehensive pediatric hospital, a surgery center and a 120-bed skilled nursing center. Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.


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Mercy Welcomes Kirkwood Fire Department

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ST. LOUIS - The Kirkwood Fire Department officially joined Mercy for emergency medical services (EMS) medical direction. Kirkwood has 46 uniformed personnel and one civilian secretary, including three chief officers. Nearly all of the members are cross-trained as firefighters and paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Mercy Saint Louis EMS Medical Director Dr. John Wimas is excited for the opportunity to work with Kirkwood Fire.

“We’re anxious to share our EMS education, outreach and technology with the men and women of Kirkwood,” Wilmas said. “Together we will provide great care to our communities.”

Mercy provides medical direction to nine area districts and departments, offering monthly EMS education with face-to-face, physician-led education. The training is also streamed live and recorded for EMS crews. Other recent innovations include EMSource, an interactive EMS app for first responders. EMSource hosts protocols, reference material, education, news and contact information. Other projects linking data and outcomes are currently being planned.  

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Mercy Supports Safety Day in Maryland Heights

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Young visitor gets a new bike helmet while Mercy
volunteers instruct students from St. Louis Community
College on the proper way to fit bike helmets.

Mercy recently partnered with the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District for its annual Safety Day and Open House.  The event attracted nearly 500 people from the community and was an opportunity for Mercy representatives to talk about safety, injury prevention and fit bike helmets.

Mercy volunteers fit nearly 100 helmets and educated kids along with adults about the importance of wearing a helmet to prevent head injuries. Paramedic students from St. Louis Community College also learned how to fit helmets and helped during the day. 

Maryland Heights is one of nine fire districts and departments under Mercy’s medical direction.  

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Man’s Best Friend Brightens Spirits

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Pet therapy dogs and their owners volunteer at Mercy in many areas.

Purina visited Mercy and made a video to share how pets help patients.

Laughter can be the best medicine. So, the sight of Reno, a 4-year-old pet therapy Shetland sheepdog riding his skateboard down a Mercy hallway gives patients a nice dose of it.

Bob Good, Reno’s owner, has been volunteering at Mercy since 2009, with Reno the last two years. He said if he can take patients’ minds off why they are in the hospital, even for five minutes, he’s done his job.

At Mercy, therapy dogs and their owners are volunteers who visit patients for many different reasons. They help provide normalcy for patients who have pets at home, companionship and activity during hospitalization, boost spirits of patients recovering from illness or surgery, and give extra motivation to heal.

Thyme, a 9-year-old Australian shepherd pet therapy dog has been coming to Mercy for three years. Thyme’s owner Kit Conn-Glenz pointed out that while Thyme is providing therapy to patients, he thinks it’s all about him. “It’s like a spa day for Thyme. He has a bath, gets his coat brushed and then comes to the hospital for all sorts of attention and cuddles from patients.”

Pet therapy dogs go through extensive training and must meet certain requirements before visiting patients at Mercy.

“People are often surprised we have a pet therapy program,” said Lauren Lee, manager of Volunteer and Guest Services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. “We work with several accredited organizations and have 20 pet therapy volunteers who visit various areas of the hospital on different days throughout each month.”

Studies have shown that pet therapy can help reduce anxiety in hospital patients. One study by the American Heart Association showed a 12-minute visit with a man’s best friend helped heart and lung function by lowering pressures and diminishing release of harmful hormones in heart failure patients.

Reno visited heart patient Mary Krummey who thinks the program is “awesome.” She said, “People who love dogs, can’t help but love it. Especially on the heart floor, it can be very calming.”

Kids also love having visits from pets. At Mercy Children’s Hospital, Child Life Specialist Quienton Townsend said everyone becomes a dog lover when the therapy dogs are around. “If they had opposable thumbs, I’d be out of a job,” joked Townsend. “The power a dog has here is incredible. A kid could shut down and not want to do physical therapy or get out of bed, but when a dog comes in, it changes everything.”



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U.S. News & World Report Ranks Mercy Hospital St. Louis Among Best in Missouri

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ST. LOUIS - Mercy Hospital St. Louis has been ranked No. 2 in Missouri and No. 2 in the St. Louis area on the best hospitals list for 2013-14 by U.S. News & World Report. The annual U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 24th year, recognize hospitals that excel in treating patients with the most challenging conditions.

“This recognition is an honor to receive and lets the community know what we already do,” said Jeff Johnston, Mercy Hospital St. Louis president. “It wouldn’t be possible without the daily dedication of our medical staff and co-workers who care so deeply about the compassionate care and service our patients receive at Mercy.”

Mercy Hospital St. Louis also recognized as high-performing in gastroenterology and GI surgery; geriatrics; gynecology; nephrology; neurology & neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology.

U.S. News evaluates hospitals in 16 adult specialties. In most specialties, it ranks the nation’s top 50 hospitals and recognizes other high-performing hospitals that provide care at nearly the level of their nationally ranked peers.

“A hospital that emerges from our analysis as one of the best has much to be proud of,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News Health Rankings editor. “Only about 15 percent of hospitals are recognized for their high performance as among their region’s best. Just 3 percent of all hospitals earn a national ranking in any specialty.”

U.S. News publishes Best Hospitals to help guide patients who need a high level of care because they face particularly difficult surgery, a challenging condition or added risk because of other health problems or age. Objective measures such as patient survival and safety data, the adequacy of nurse staffing levels and other data largely determined the rankings in most specialties.

The specialty rankings and data were produced for U.S. News by RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Using the same data, U.S. News produced the state and metro rankings.

The rankings have been published at and will appear in print in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2014 guidebook, available in bookstores and on newsstands Aug. 27.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy’s east Missouri region, is a 979-bed comprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center, a comprehensive children's hospital, a surgery center and a 120-bed skilled nursing center.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

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