Honoring Heritage Award Recipients Helps Mercy Hospital and the Community

Article Date: Feb 11, 2016 Media Contact:

Each year, CHI Health-Mercy Hospital Council Bluffs hosts the Heritage Awards Dinner to honor individuals from southwest Iowa for their professional and personal contributions to the community. The event also raises funds to support professional development opportunities for Mercy employees.

The individuals that will be honored this year are Marcia Joffee-Bouska, local artist; David A. Christiansen, retired owner of Christy Crème; Fred Mahar, retired administrator – Council Bluffs Community School District; and Jean and Kathy Plourde, President and Vice President Gabriel’s Corner.

The funds from last year’s dinner were utilized to assist 28 employees with scholarships to attend professional educational events from eight different areas of care, including critical care, emergency medicine, behavioral health, surgery and quality.

“Each year, we honor great individuals for the contributions they make that enrich our community,” said Marie Knedler, president of Mercy Hospital. “But the event also helps the people of southwest Iowa by raising funds that support our staff so that they can attend conferences where they learn new techniques and best practices from their peers around the country.”

Awards ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 to help staff with costs associated with registration and travel expenses to a number of different conferences. These professional medical conferences help the Mercy Hospital staff take advantage of a wide range of learning opportunities to bring back the latest in healthcare advances to the hospital and to the community.

“The knowledge our staff brings back from these conferences helps everyone who works in our hospital, and in turn, helps our patients,” said Denise McNitt, MS, RN, vice president of patient care services at Mercy Hospital. “We are very fortunate to receive the support from the Heritage Awards Dinner to enable Mercy to continue to provide high-quality care for the body, mind and spirit of every person.”

Some of the knowledge they gained came from the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, National Association of Orthopedic Nurses, American Association Respiratory Therapy Congress, OR Manager Conference, American Case Management Association, PTA School, Core Concepts American Ass. Of Diabetes Educators Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses Annual Conference, Emergency Nurses Association and the NTI Critical Care Conference.

One of the other professional events that staff attended was the Magnet Conference – “At the Magnet Conference, you learn and network with the top 10% of US hospitals. As a Magnet hospital, I wasn’t surprised to find out that we are already doing so many cutting edge, best practice projects here at Mercy. I was able to bring back a couple new ideas that we can use to continue to improve our employee and patient satisfaction.” said Bernadette Vacha, Advanced Nurse Administrator at Mercy. Vacha went on to say that “less than 3% of hospitals have received three or more Magnet Designations and Mercy is proud to say we are in that 3%!”

After returning from these conferences, each person at Mercy then shares what they learned with others at the hospital.

This year’s Heritage event will be on Saturday, March 19, at the Mid-America Center.

Chairing the 33rd annual event are Donna and James Kalar M.D., and co-chairs are Beth and Donald Van de Water M.D. This year’s presenting sponsor is Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home and Crematory.

The gala evening at the Mid-America Center begins with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by a gourmet meal, recognition program and a post-event celebration. For more information regarding the 2016 Heritage Awards Dinner or for tickets to the event, please contact Christine Gochenour at christine.gochenour@alegent.org or (712) 328-5141 by March 11.

About CHI Health

CHI Health is a regional health network with a unified mission: nurturing the healing ministry of the Church while creating healthier communities. Headquartered in Omaha, the combined organization consists of 15 hospitals, two stand-alone behavioral health facilities and more than 150 employed physician practice locations in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa. More than 12,000 employees comprise the workforce of this network that includes 2,820 licensed beds and serves as the primary teaching partner of Creighton University’s health sciences schools. In fiscal year 2014, the organization provided a combined $149.3 million in quantified community benefits including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. With locations stretching from North Platte, Neb. to Missouri Valley, Iowa, the health network is the largest in Nebraska and serves residents of Nebraska and southwest Iowa. For more information, visit online at CHIhealth.com.


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