Mercy Fort Smith Honors Mercy Week Winners

September 25, 2020
Winners group

Mercy Week (Sept. 21-25) is a celebration of the Sisters of Mercy and the founding of Mercy by Sister Catherine McAuley, who taught her followers to abide by Mercy’s values: Excellence, Service, Justice, Dignity and Stewardship. Mercy Fort Smith recognized a co-worker each day who was nominated by colleagues to receive an award that celebrates each of Mercy’s values. In addition, on Mercy Day (Sept. 24) Mercy Fort Smith recognized a co-worker with the Lamplighter award and a physician with the Dr. Cole Goodman Award, and also recognized 60 years of service by a Sister of Mercy.

Bethany for web group

Excellence Award: Bethany Rucker

Bethany Rucker is director of med-surg and patient logistics at Mercy Fort Smith. She was nominated in part for the compassion and care she has demonstrated to patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her nomination from Michael Nolewajka, executive director of logistics at Mercy Fort Smith, reads, “Stressful times can bring out the best in people and the COVID pandemic has done that with Bethany. From the beginning of this Bethany has led with dignity under very difficult circumstances. We tested the first couple patients downstairs under the parking deck and Bethany talked to those patients on a daily basis, listening to them, assuring them, and helping them during the anxious time between testing and result. One patient called her for a solid two weeks while waiting for results. When our restrictions grew tighter and visitors weren't allowed in the facility Bethany had to facilitate some very difficult end-of-life discussions between families and the care team. She again conducted herself with grace and dignity during the calls but would break down in tears after hanging up. Her ability to stay professional during very difficult situations is second to none and I feel needs to be recognized. Bethany is a strong Mercy fit and Fort Smith has been blessed to have her during these COVID times.”

Tiffany for web

Service Award: Tiffany Sokolowski

Tiffany Sokolowski is an ophthalmic assistant with Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology – Fort Smith. In addition to receiving the Service Award, Sokolowski was named February’s Co-Worker of the Month. Her compassion for others reaches far beyond her duties at Mercy, as illustrated in a story of her befriending an elderly patient who had no family or friends. Joyce Long, practice manager at Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology, says, “This award is so Tiffany. It’s not from any one act; it is her daily life. This is who she is. She truly serves and is the hands and feet of Jesus. I submitted a story about Tiffany and how she had helped a gentleman find his vehicle in the parking lot one evening. It was a very touching story, and I felt that that story was it, but that was just the first half. Later on, we chose this gentleman to be our angel and we gathered food and items for him for Christmas. Tiffany went to deliver it, she and her boys had found that the gentleman’s house had burned to the ground, along with his vehicle. She was very upset and went to the neighbors saying, “What happened? Where is he?” thinking that they were going to tell her that he was in the hospital. But instead, they told her that he had not survived; he and the dog had made it to the door but had not made it out. Of course, she was very distraught; this was somebody that had become her friend. She blamed herself … but I told her, “No, Tiffany, there is nothing you could have done. But you did do something. This gentleman, he did not have a friend, he did not have a family, he did not have anyone, but you made a difference. In the last month of his life, you were there.” Thank you for all that you do. You deserve this award.”

Dominique for web group

Justice Award: Dominique Rubin

Dominique Rubin is a licensed practical nurse at Mercy Clinic Pediatrics – Fort Smith. In addition to receiving the Justice Award, Rubin was named August’s Co-Worker of the Month. She is known as the “child whisperer” in the clinic for her ability to soothe children (and parents) under difficult circumstances. Says Practice Manager Kimberly Israel, “If someone was to look up the term “Pediatric Nurse” in a dictionary, there would only sit a photo of Dominique. She is the outline of what a nurse should be. It takes special types of people to do certain jobs, and being a Pediatric Nurse requires a special type of person. Her kind, gentle spirit brings calmness to kiddos who are nervous to come in. She is the “Child Whisperer,” as I call her. Praying with patients, parents, for staff, loving God and loving people, it’s not just what she does, it is who she is, it’s how God built her, and she is using her talents as he planned. It goes much deeper than being a good nurse, she is a leader, coworker who goes beyond her “duties” in the office to help everyone from front to back. She is a genuinely selfless person, and we are beyond blessed to be on her team.”

Brandon for web group

Dignity Award: Brandon Thomas

Brandon Thomas is a registered nurse in the Mercy Fort Smith Emergency Department. He treats his patients with kindness and compassion during every step of their stay at Mercy, says Bobbi Anschutz, ED clinical nurse manager at Mercy Fort Smith. A family who lost their wife, mother and grandmother this year reached out to express their gratitude for all Thomas did for them: “We got to meet with Brandon this morning and he was so humble and so sweet. He was reciting facts about our grandmother’s life that he had learned in just that short time. He was emotional and grateful. We hope he receives the recognition from his supervisors that he so greatly deserves.” Anschutz adds: “He stands firm and advocates for what he believes in. He maintains his composure in times of high stress and incorporates humor to relieve accelerated tensions. In the most critical moments of your life, Brandon is most certainly one health care provider that you want by your side.” 

Elizabeth for web group

Stewardship Award: Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth Jones is a medical assistant at Mercy Family Medicine in Waldron. She has been with Mercy for 16 years and always goes above and beyond in all her duties, says Chrissy Trampp, practice manager at Mercy Family Medicine – Waldron. “She is always willing to help others no matter if it’s helping the front desk, housekeeping, me or a job she has never done before,” Trampp says. “If it is something that she has never done before, she will just ask ‘show me what to do’ and she runs with it, but you will be able to count on her retaining that new skill and using it at another time. She has been a great benefit to when we started ACO and working through the metrics and workflows on getting our clinic to succeed. The best thing about Elizabeth is that she is someone that you can ask for an honest opinion and she will give it to you.”

Debbie for web group

Lamplighter Award: Debbie Hewett

Debbie Hewett is director of critical care services and ICU at Mercy Fort Smith. She was chosen for Mercy’s Lamplighter Award for the leadership and care she provides on the job, as well as for the outreach efforts she makes throughout the community. Dr. Paul Bean, chief of medical affairs, says of Debbie: “Debbie is a phenomenal nurse who I have had the pleasure of working with for almost 20 years. Her patients get the best care possible. As a director for the ICU, she leads with the goal of making sure that patients get the best care possible. She leads with integrity and is willing to jump in and care for patients needed. Her work to develop a nurse residency will be instrumental in developing our nursing staff. Debbie also takes the time to build a team culture around service outreach within the community. It has been privilege to work with her, and Mercy is so blessed to have her lighting the way.”

Bean for web group

Dr. Cole Goodman Lamplighter Award: Dr. Paul Bean

Dr. Paul Bean has played many roles at Mercy, including as a physician, chairman of hospitalists and chief medical officer. He was selected to receive the first Dr. Cole Goodman Lamplighter Award because of his commitment to caring for his patients and dedication to his work at Mercy. Dr. Goodman says, “It was a tremendous honor for me to receive the Dr. Cole Goodman Award and an even bigger honor this year to be able to announce Dr. Paul Bean as the recipient of this award. Dr. Paul Bean is a fantastic person, someone I’ve known for greater than 20 years, an individual that I had the privilege of practicing and taking care of patients with. Paul has worn many hats in his practice life, from being chief of staff to being chairman of the department of hospitalists to now chief medical officer at Mercy. Paul’s commitment first is to be a good person, a good man, a Christian man, and a tremendously good physician. He is committed to taking care of patients in an empathetic, sympathetic manner and making sure that they receive the best service possible and the best care possible for the people that are entrusted to our care at Mercy. I can’t think of another person that deserves this award more than Paul Bean and it’s a distinct privilege to present this award to him.”

Chab for web group

Sister Chabanel Finnegan, 60 Years of Service

Sister Chabanel Finnegan joined Mercy in 1960 and marked her 60th anniversary on July 1. She has served in many locations and has been in Fort Smith since 1999. A plaque in her honored was placed in the garden in front of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith on Mercy Day. Father Paul Fetsko, vice president of mission, says, “July 1 was a special day. It’s not often you can celebrate someone’s 60th anniversary to anything, but that’s what we honored for and remembered for Sister Chabanel Finnegan. She actually entered the Sisters of Mercy six years prior to that, so she actually has 66 years of service with us. Sister Chab has worked wherever she was needed: New Orleans, Vicksburg, Springfield, St. Louis and finally here in Fort Smith since 1999. She’s a holy woman of wisdom, understanding and kindness, and for those who are worried or troubled, they can seek her advice. I encourage any of you at any time to Sister Chab if you need a good listening ear.”

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