Methodist’s Dr. DeNardo Explains…When Is A Headache Really A Brain Aneurysm?

Most of the time, unruptured aneurysms exist with no symptoms. Rarely, people will experience warning signs, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, stiff neck and headache.

When an aneurysm is rupturing, there is often no mistaking it, says Andrew DeNardo, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

“If a person comes into an emergency room and they say, ‘I just had the worst headache of my life and it came on quickly and it felt like somebody hit me in the back of the head with a two-by-four,’ you better be looking for an aneurysm,” Dr. DeNardo says. “And that’s a person that automatically gets a head CT. You’re looking for blood.”

Brain Aneurysm

What: A weakness in the blood vessel of the brain that bulges and fills with blood.

Cause: High blood pressure, plaque build up in artery wall, trauma, heredity, abnormal blood flow where arteries meet.

Occurrence: 1 to 2 percent of the population.

Demographic: “There is a peak incidence in the fifth decade of life so in your 40s and 50s,” Dr. DeNardo says. “We see some people in their 30s. The youngest patient I’ve ever treated for a ruptured aneurysm is 2. So it’s not unheard of in young children.”

Dangers: In rare cases, the aneurysm ruptures and bleeds into the skull, causing stroke. “If an aneurysm bleeds so much that it increases the pressure in your head high enough and it stops the blood flow to the brain,” he says, “you probably will die or, worse, be vegetative.”

Most often: “The aneurysm leaks from a spot. A clot goes up around it and the pressure in the head gets high enough just to stop it for a moment,” Dr. DeNardo says. “For most people, the pressure goes up transiently, the bleeding stops, the clot sits on top of the aneurysm.”

When to get tested: If you have two immediate family members who have had an aneurysm you should be screened, he says.

The science: “The normal pressure inside your head is 10 to 20 centimeters of water. When an aneurysm ruptures, it might go up to 90 centimeters of water,” Dr. DeNardo says. “Then, it supersedes your ability to pump blood. That goes on long enough, your brain is going to die.”

Read more about Dr. DeNardo and what Methodist is doing to treat aneurysms here. 

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Trauma Surgeon Dr. McKinley: Would-Be Astronaut, Ironman, Lifesaver

The town was small. Osage, Iowa. Todd McKinley was the fifth generation to grow up in the county 20 miles from Minnesota.

It was the kind of place where teachers taught kids to reach for the stars. Where parents, and grandparents and aunts and uncles told teenagers: “You can be anything you want to be.”

Teenage Todd wanted to be an astronaut. Yes. He would zoom into space in a shuttle. He would be one of the chosen few to explore unknown parts of the galaxy.

And Todd McKinley almost did.

He was as close as a person can get, whittled down to 100 people by NASA, as a finalist for the space program. When the last cuts were made in 1998, though, he didn’t land in the pool of 19.

But his dream is important, extremely important.

Because if McKinley, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital, hadn’t reached for the stars, he would have never been led to a career in medicine.

A career where he saves lives every single day.


The majority of what Dr. McKinley deals with are horrific cases. Car wrecks, motorcycle accidents, gunshots, someone jumping off a building, someone being run over by a car.

He’s not dealing with twisted legs and torn ligaments. He’s dealing with devastating and deadly injury.

“You get to do remarkable stuff every day and no two days are ever really the same,” he says. “There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of remarkable cases a year.”

And, at the end of the day, in most cases, the end result is amazing.

“The best part of our job,” Dr. McKinley says, “is trying to help somebody back into their life who had it ripped out from underneath them.”


Growing up in Osage, McKinley’s father was an attorney and his mom stayed home with him and his two siblings.

Dr. McKinley participated in a lot of sports as a kid, but he excelled in wrestling. Competing in the 155-pound weight class, Dr. McKinley was a two-time high school state winner, placing third and fifth.

When it came time for college, he went for that astronaut dream.

At the University of Minnesota, he graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering.

Dr. McKinley then took a job doing research and design of stealth aircraft at a St. Louis company. All the while, though, those dreams of being an astronaut lingered.

How could he get into space? Dr. McKinley noticed a lot of people selected into the space program had a mix of engineering and a medical background.

“I’ve got to figure out how to get into medical school,” he says. “I literally have no clue.”

So, Dr. McKinley went to Minneapolis and marched into the office of the dean of Minnesota’s medical school with one burning question: “How do I get in?”


The dean told Dr. McKinley there was an admission test a month later. The problem was, Dr. McKinley hadn’t taken half of the classes needed to pass. He hadn’t set his sights on a medical career until then.

“I figured I’d give it a shot anyway,” he says.

Dr. McKinley went out and bought the monstrous textbooks — a yellow one on organic chemistry, a red one on human physiology.

And he read and studied and pored over those textbooks. Every night, after a long day at his engineering job, Dr. McKinley taught himself.

And he passed that test.

In medical school, Dr. McKinley’s favorite part was critical care. But in the fall of his senior year, after two weeks in orthopedics, he fell in love with the field.

He can’t describe exactly why he was drawn in. There wasn’t a certain case or patient, but the people around him seemed really happy.

The problem was there weren’t many senior orthopedic rotations left. The medical school dean pulled some strings and found a rotation at the Mayo Clinic.

After finishing a month later, Mayo offered him a spot. But Dr. McKinley was interviewing other places, including the University of California, Davis. Within five minutes of being there, Dr. McKinley knew this was his place.

He moved to California in 1992, completing his ortho residency, a 5-year program. He then spent another year in a research fellowship at UC Davis before heading to Baltimore for a fellowship in orthopedic trauma.

It was during that time in 1998 that Dr. McKinley found out he hadn’t made the space program. His dreams of being an astronaut on the back burner, he took at job in 1999 at the University of Iowa. There, he also served as the school’s wrestling team physician.

He traveled to meets. He relived his own days of competition and he loved it. 

“I’m not a sports doctor,” Dr. McKinley says. “But I loved wrestling so much.”

He had always loved competition. In fact, Dr. McKinley had been an Ironman.


While in undergrad at Minnesota, there was a triathlon in the Twin Cities. Dr. McKinley had never really swam a stroke in his life, but he decided to give the competition a try.

“I almost drowned,” he says. “I struggled out of the water and hopped on the bike and drove 15 miles. Halfway through the race, I realized I really liked it.”

Dr. McKinley competed in more races, met more people and, before he knew it, had completed nearly 60 triathlons.

That led to half Ironman races; Dr. McKinley did eight of those.

And then in New Hampshire in 1990, he competed in the Ironman, won it and qualified for the Ironman in Hawaii.

Dr. McKinley didn’t go. He didn’t need to. He’d met his goal. 


Inside Methodist, Dr. McKinley is known for a niche surgery that helps younger adults with hip dysplasia.

It’s a painful, nagging condition in which the hip socket is too shallow or it is oriented in the body in the wrong direction.

It’s Dr. McKinley’s specialty to fix that with an operation that restores the shape of the hip. The patient’s pain dissipates. Dr. McKinley performs 30 to 60 of those surgeries a year.

As a trauma surgeon, he’s on call five to six nights a month. At a moment’s notice, he could be in the operating room saving lives. It’s all so rewarding, he says.

“But if you ask me what keeps me up at night?” Dr. McKinley says. “It’s the research.”

Dr. McKinley is part of a research team studying precision medicine for trauma patients.

“When people think of illness, they don’t think of trauma or injury,” he says. “But trauma is a major illness.”

More life years are lost annually in the United States from trauma than cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.

“Trauma is a real disease,” he says.

So, the team is studying it as a disease.

“Five or 10 years from now, when someone comes in, we will have come up with things that not only keep them alive,” he says, “but the rest of their life will be free of pain and it will be meaningful. You can restore people’s lives and that matters.”

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Path To Path Lab – Passionate About Cervical Cancer Screening

Melissa Randolph grew up in a rural farming community where she was exposed early on to the gifts of music, nature, and science.

On her Greensburg, farm Randolph and her three siblings were part of a family of hard workers. Everyone pitched in tending to hogs, picking strawberries and snapping green beans. The eldest sibling, Randolph was the first in her generation to attend college and took her work ethic to IU Bloomington. She didn’t know it then, but her rural upbringing would play a vital role in her career at IU Health where she works in the pathology lab – specifically overseeing screenings for cervical cancer.

In high school she was both academically and musically driven. Classically trained in piano, she accompanied all the high school musicals and also picked up saxophone along the way. When she started college, Randolph discovered she had not just a photographic memory but also one that couldn’t be turned off like a light switch. She combined her love of science with that gift of memory and earned a degree in Cytotechnology. Specifically, she is responsible for reviewing changes in body cells that can lead to the early development of cancer and other diseases.

Her job is critical when it comes to early detection of cancer.

When asked about how she relieves stress from working at such a highly intense job, she talks about her four-year stint with the local band, “The Polyester Starfish.” The group rehearses at Randolph’s home and performs locally playing original tunes with the vibes ranging from Mumford & Sons to Pink Floyd. Randolph plays keyboard and sax and performs on vocals. Other than the band, she likes to chill with her husband of 17 years, Eric Randolph and their 10-year-old daughter, Adaleigh.

Her face lights up when talks about family and she easily connects the dots to her profession like the molecules in a cell sample.

“Coming from a small farming community I know that women don’t get screened regularly for cervical cancer,” said Randolph. “What I’ve tried to do is share with other women the importance of screening and encourage them.”

Since she started her profession, advances in screenings are now quicker and more accurate. Here’s what’s new at IU Health:

  • Two new instruments streamline a three-part cervical cancer screening. (Patients who visit their OB/GYN or primary care physician for a pap test are automatically screened for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can put women at risk for cervical cancer). The testing is accomplished through a single sample.
  • The additional screening will also determine if the patient carries one of the two high-risk virus strains associated with HPV, forming pre-cancerous changes.
  • The advanced “one-stop” screenings will improve the patient’s knowledge early on for their risk levels for cervical cancer and they can work with their physician on preventative measures and follow up screenings.

“I’m passionate about this because screening leads to early detection,” said Randolph. The screening process takes about 10 minutes and the patient can have results within a week. “I want women to know that this is as simple as going for an annual exam and can provide valuable information that impacts their overall health.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Learning Curve – A Path To Patient Care

A couple of years ago, Caleb Ginn, was living at home with his parents, brother and sister; playing video games; sleeping, hanging out with friends and occasionally holding down a job. Now, the 23-year-old is employed by a 360-bed healthcare facility focused on exemplary patient care.

“This is a full 180-degree change for me and my family,” said Ginn, a graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School. “Getting hired at the hospital gave me confidence and assurance that I could be successful.”

Ginn, who is diagnosed with a form of autism, completed a workforce program through the Erskine Green Training Institute. The program, developed by The Arc of Indiana Foundation, provides opportunities for postsecondary vocational training for people with disabilities. During the three-month training, students receive both classroom and on-the-job training in food service, hospitality and healthcare support. There is no promise that a student will be hired at a company after completing training, but in Ginn’s case, there was a hospital position open, he applied and was hired to work as a patient transport. Other graduates of the training program have been hired at IU Health’s Riley Hospital for Children and IU Health North.

Students can be trained in nine different jobs, said Sarah Lambert, an instructor who has been with the Erskine Green program since it started in 2015.

“They come in and are interviewed for a job, actually perform some of the tasks and are accessed on their performance before they are placed in an internship,” said Lambert. Students come from throughout Indiana and even out of state to take part in the Erskine Green Institute, said Fenway Park, a student support specialist. “We’ve even had interest from as far away as California.”

Ginn drove from Fishers to complete his training. Some students live at the Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center Hotel – similar to a college dorm – and are matched with a mentor that helps students choose free time options outside of their learning time.

Becoming an IU Health employee has been an added boost for Ginn.

“I knew I could do it but this gives me an opportunity to show that I can do it,” said Ginn. “I had a basic understanding of the skills needed for the job and becoming an employee makes me feel more marketable.”

As he assists nurses with moving patient John Cristman from one room to another, Ginn works as a team member – gently lifting his patient, assuring he is comfortable, and transporting him down the hospital hall.

“Even though I’m with them a short time, the best part of my job is interacting with the patients,” said Ginn, who recently moved into his own home and is saving money for a car.  “It may take some people a little longer but I’m living on my own and I’m getting there,” said Ginn.

And what about a career in healthcare?

“I have dreams of going on to become a radiology tech,” said Ginn. “We’ll see. First things, first.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

LifeLine Nurse: “I Like the Patient Variety.”

Erin Montgomery started her career at IU Health Methodist Hospital eight years ago. For the past six years she has worked as a critical care transport nurse for LifeLine. She says the best thing about her job is the patient variety.

“We do pediatrics and neonatal. The neo-natal side was new for me so it was a big learning curve,” said White, 32, who is married to John Montgomery, an air traffic controller.

Here is more about Montgomery:

  • She also worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
  • She is part of a The Pediatric Community Outreach Mobile Education team that travels to hospitals throughout the state providing training to emergency room physcians and nurses to prepare them to stabilize pediatric patients.
  • What makes her a good nurse: “Experience, and always willing to learn something new. I also learn a lot by training others.”
  • Her hobbies: “I love to read and run (she has competed in half marathons).”
  • About flying aboard LifeLine helicopters: “I was nervous before my first flight. There’s no good way to describe it – it’s not like flying on an airplane or being on a roller coaster – it’s the fear of the unknown, but we have phenomenal pilots.
  • Something few people know about her: “I used to be addicted to buying ‘as seen on TV stuff.’ I buy them because I want to see if they work. “

– T.J. Banes

He’s Seen A Superior Shift In Surgery

Less time in the hospital. Less invasive. Less morphine. More movement. 

Surgery has changed drastically in the past 30 years and Larry Stevens, M.D., has been there to see it all. The medical director of surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital started his career here in 1991.

Recently, he revealed the three biggest changes he’s seen in surgery in the past three decades

Less invasive, fewer days in the hospital

“Whatever the field, more and more procedures are being done in a more minimally-invasive fashion,” Dr. Stevens says. “Smaller incisions, little punctures — all done under X-ray guidance.”

Pain management. It’s always been a tricky

“Back in the day, you’d give patients more morphine, more morphine, more morphine,” he says. “Now, it’s multimodal pain control — non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, local anesthetics, a regional block and then some narcotics.”

The theory is very much like chemotherapy for cancer, Dr. Stevens says. 

“If you use one drug, you have to use a lot of it and you have a lot of toxicity and a lot of side effects,” he says. “If you use multiple drugs, you attack the cancer or, in this case, pain from different pathways. It allows us to use less of each drug while getting better pain control and having fewer side effects.”

Up and at it…

“There’s just been a change in the philosophy of rehabilitation,” Dr. Stevens says. “Used to if you had, say, bladder surgery you would lay in bed for a week. Now, it’s get up and get moving. You actually recover better. Early mobilization and early activity promotes better healing.”

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Donna Ennis: The Nurse For Indiana’s First Heart Transplant

It was incredibly terrifying territory. But for every fear that arose, the excitement and hope and marvel crept in to take over.

The year was 1982 and IU Health Methodist Hospital was ready to make history. It had a team, a dedicated team made up of only the best of the best – ready to perform Indiana’s first heart transplant.

On that team was nurse Donna Ennis, who remembers the sheer intensity of that time. She remembers gowning up to go into Annie Gardner’s room. She remembers wiping down the walls of her room all throughout the day.

Gardner, a 38-year-old mother with familial cardiomyopathy, was weak, susceptible to infection and germs. She had a failing heart that doctors said had, at most, 12 more months of life.

“We were truly involved with some pioneers of the time,” says Ennis, now manager of thoracic transplant services at Methodist. “We had teams there around the clock. It was all so new and very exciting.”

After 45 years at Methodist Hospital, the first 29 as a bedside nurse, Ennis has seen a lot. A lot of firsts. A lot of lasts. And a lot that has changed.  

But, what’s been most important to Ennis has never changed.

“What it’s all about, it’s about making a difference in lives,” she says. “About making the patients’ lives better.”


With a successful heart transplant performed by Dr. Harold Halbrook, and then a second transplant years later, Gardner went on to live 25 more years.

She saw her son graduate high school. She enjoyed water skiing. She became a precinct committeewoman. She participated in at least five World Transplant Games.

“She was such a remarkable woman,” Ennis says, “and an advocate for transplant at Methodist.”

And then, six years later, Ennis was there for another Indiana transplant first.

She was a nurse on the team for John Robert Wrancher, when the 39-year-old father of two young sons received Indiana’s first liver transplant in 1988. That same day, University Hospital performed a liver transplant on a patient, as well.

“To go back and see where we were then in the field of transplant and in caring for someone and going through that to see where we’ve progressed now, it’s amazing,” Ennis says. “We just have such a stellar transplant program.”

IU Health ranked 10th in the nation overall for organ transplants in 2017, performing 477. At Methodist, which does thoracic transplants – heart and lung – 65 lung transplants were performed last year, ranking 12th in the nation for volume. The hospital performed 14 heart transplants.

And Ennis was there overseeing all those transplants at Methodist. She was doing it in her role in management — but with the heart of a bedside nurse.


Growing up in Indianapolis, Ennis had dreams of being a teacher. In high school, she played volleyball, kickball, was class vice president and in National Honor Society.

Academics were top priority in the Ennis household.

“My parents always encouraged us to go to college,” Ennis says. “Education was key growing up. That was most important.”

Ennis’ father spent 46 years with the Indianapolis Fire Department, part of that as chief. Her mother stayed at home until Ennis and her brother and sister had finished high school. Then, she went back to school to become a dental assistant.

One day, in high school, Ennis’ mother came to her and said something that changed her career path forever.

“She said, ‘Now Donna, you need to realize there aren’t a lot of teaching jobs out there,’” Ennis says. “She steered me toward nursing. I went into nursing and I loved it.”

Ennis graduated in 1972 with a nursing degree from Purdue University and then she landed a job at Methodist fresh out of school.

She started her career in labor and delivery and, after five years, moved to dialysis. From there, she transferred to cardiovascular critical care in the early 1980s. That’s when she cared for Gardner.

“I really loved that. The experience I gained there was incredible,” she says. “I just loved critical care. I just loved the heart program.”

And she loved that heart transplant. Yes. Transplant was now in her blood.


Ennis’ first job in transplant was as a kidney transplant coordinator. Then, when Methodist started its liver transplant program, she landed on that team.

She loved the continuum of care, being with patients before transplant, getting to know their families and then, after transplant, being there to care for them and following them for life.

“You really get to know the patients,” Ennis says. “You really get attached and you want to see them do well.”

In 2001, Ennis took on her management position. While it’s not bedside, and not hands-on patient care, Ennis is still touching patients’ lives every day.

Colleagues describe Ennis as “dedicated, hardworking and upbeat.”

“She is a true patient advocate,” says Michele Spencer, customer relationship manager and living donor advocate for transplant, IU Health University Hospital. “She always puts the patient first above everything else.”

More With Ennis

Personal: Ennis has two grown children, a son and a daughter, and five grandchildren. She is recently widowed from her husband of 28 years.

Hobbies: Ennis lives on Morse Reservoir and loves lake activities — swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing and watching the sunsets. She also likes to shade garden and has a large flower garden. Ennis has two 5-year-old yellow labs, is involved with her church and likes to support Indiana college basketball, especially IU. She is a lifelong Indianapolis Colts fan, having attended almost every home game since the team came to the city in 1984. Her greatest joy is spending time with her grandkids.

Extras: In 1998, Ennis earned a second degree from IU Kelley School of Business. Through the years, she has been very involved with NATCO (North American Transplant Coordinators Organization), as a member and in leadership roles.  

Retirement? “Maybe a few more years,” she says. “I’m not ready. I enjoy my job.”

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Care For Mothers: This Is Her Life

There’s one thing everyone should know about Susie Newkirk. Her given name is “Donna Sue” but since the day she was born, she’s been known as “Susie.”

It suits her just fine. She sees it as a combination of both of her parents.

“My mom’s name was Donetta Gulley. Dad wanted to name me Donetta, so this was the compromise,” said Newkirk. Her father Charlie Gulley passed in 1976 and her mother passed in 2009. 

Their relationship taught her a lot about being a caregiver, and helped her land where she is today – working as the administrator for six IU Health Physician sites throughout the city. As a licensed nurse practitioner, her focus is the care of expectant mothers and their newborns.

Newkirk, the youngest of three, was born on her father’s 52nd birthday. Her mother was 38.

“He was sick all my life – had seven heart attacks, the first one when he was 21. I watched my mom care for him. Mom rarely left him,” said Newkirk, who is 54 and has been married to Max Newkirk for the past 30 years. They have two children and one grandchild.

It was on a day that Newkirk’s mom stepped out to refill her husband’s medicine, that Newkirk witnessed her father’s passing.

“I was home alone with him. It was seven days after my 12th birthday and I found him, another heart attack. I would definitely say it influenced my career path. My mom wasn’t a nurse but it was her nature to take good care of him,” said Newkirk, who graduated from Warren Central and began working toward her nursing degree right out of high school.  She’s worked in women’s health most of her career – primarily with expectant and new moms.

“I like that I have variety in my job,” said Newkirk. “Because I don’t come to the same place every day I get to interact with so many different people and personalities and I enjoy the great care the physicians give to our patients. Being a nurse has sensitized me to the needs of different patients.”

She’s witnessed 15-year-olds with no transportation, who have walked to their prenatal appointments, and grieving moms who have lost their babies late in pregnancy.

“When you hear patients talk about their physicians and the great care they get, you know it’s heartfelt. You also know it takes everyone from the front desk greeting the patients to the nurses who take them to their exam rooms to make that experience personal.”

Progress Newkirk has seen in women’s health over the years:

  • “Electronic medical records allow us to the see the patient as a whole – outpatient and inpatient as one picture. It allows for better management of the patient.”
  • “Greater access to quality healthcare. More locations give women more choices and easier access to healthcare.”
  • “An increase in healthcare locations means providers are serving a diverse population. We are adapting to their needs.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Methodist’s Mama Denise: ‘This Is My Family’

She’s the one. The one so many people rely on. The one who is loyal and caring and funny and feisty and – to be perfectly frank – unforgettable.

Once you meet Denise McClendon, she sticks with you. She is the unit secretary on IU Health Methodist Hospital’s transplant/oncology floor. A7N, to be exact.

She is part receptionist, part medical assistant, part shoulder to cry on, part call light answerer, part supply stocker, part comic, part organizer.

And part mama.

McClendon is known as “Mama Denise” at Methodist. She has mentored so many people throughout her nearly 40 years at the hospital.

She has watched people come and go. She has watched technology advance. She has watched the hospital change. And she has never thought once about leaving Methodist behind.

“As my mom would always say, bless her heart, ‘This is your family,’” McClendon says. “Methodist is my family. I love working. I love my job and I love doing what I am doing.”

Through her years at Methodist, she says, “My good days definitely outweighed my bad days.” 


Born in Nashville, Tenn., McClendon’s family moved to Indianapolis when she was 8 years old. Her father was a truck driver and, once in the city, her mother landed a job as a nursing assistant at Methodist.

As a student at Shortridge High School, McClendon says she was a tomboy. She ran track, until she fell and hurt her knee. Then, she was done with that sport.

McClendon decided to focus her energy on school – with a goal of going to college to get a nursing degree in Nashville. She worked hard, excelled and graduated a year earlier than she was supposed to, in 1976. 

But then, just as she was set to head off to nursing school, her mom got sick. McClendon wanted to be there and that nursing degree went on the backburner.

McClendon got a job in retail at L.S. Ayres Downtown Indianapolis working in the juniors department. She also did modeling, showcasing the department store’s clothing in the tea room.

When her best friend took a job at Methodist working in the gift shop, she urged McClendon to join. That was 1979 and McClendon said yes.

And she has stayed nearly 40 years.

McClendon’s always liked the variety, the opportunity at Methodist to move up, to do different things. While working in the gift shop, McClendon took a secretary class.

She became a unit secretary in pediatrics, and then went on to the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I think I cried every day,” she says. “I was sitting there in the center at my desk and had 10 or 12 beds in a circle all around me with newborns and babies. And it broke my heart.”

McClendon always knew what was a good fit for her at Methodist. And that is why she has been so successful. She worked on the adolescent unit, the orthopedics unit, in sports medicine and ophthalmology.

Five years ago, she came to floor 7 to be the unit secretary of oncology and transplant. And there, she really felt at home.

“I just couldn’t believe how it fit me so well,” she says. “I felt like this is where I needed to be. And it’s been just wonderful.”

 More With McClendon

Personal: She married for the first time in 2009, at age 50, to husband, Steve. She has a grown son, Mychael.

Her hours: She works 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. three days a week. She almost always picks up extra shifts as well.

Outside of Methodist: Every Friday night, McClendon and Steve have a date night. They like to eat seafood (her favorite is crab legs) and go to the casinos.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.