Ideas to Make Rainy Days Fun

After months of cabin fever, spring is the season to enjoy being outdoors again. It’s also a time of year when rain can keep families and children indoors. Using some creativity and forethought, parents can devise ways for children to keep busy and stay active without resorting to what can often be the indoor default—screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of screen time each day for grade school children and also advises setting limits for older children and adolescents. This reinforces the need to find alternate activities for kids when weather prohibits outdoor play. Here are a few suggestions:

Set up activity stations. Assemble several stations or activity corners throughout your home for kids to enjoy. The possibilities are endless, but some ideas for activity stations include bouncing on an indoor trampoline, dancing to music, completing a puzzle or craft, building with blocks or Legos, or reading a short story. Set a timer for five to 10 minutes, signaling when it’s time for kids to rotate to the next station. 

Build a fort or design an obstacle course. Get out blankets and pillows, throw the couch cushions on the floor and help your kids build the world’s greatest indoor fort. Celebrate your accomplishment by sharing a healthy lunch or enjoying afternoon story time under the canopy. Building an indoor obstacle course is also a great way to keep kids moving on rainy days.

Turn on some tunes for a dance party. Dancing is an excellent form of exercise for children and adults and a great indoor activity for the whole family.

Don’t give up on Mother Nature. If rain is gentle and the weather’s not threatening, consider letting children put on their rain boots and stomp around in puddles or play in the rain. They’ll appreciate the chance to run off some steam and enjoy the fresh spring air. Unless it’s too windy or cold, the family also can take a short walk in light rain. 

Get creative. Drawing, coloring, painting and sculpting are worthwhile indoor activities that allow children to use their imagination and explore their creativity. If your family enjoys cooking, spend a rainy day whipping up a healthy meal or snack.

With some planning and “thinking outside the box,” you can turn rainy days into fun days for the whole family.

Holly Smith, MD, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care-Anson and can be reached by calling the office at 317.768.6000.

Promoting Health For New Moms

Dr. John Hathaway, OB/GYN with the Coleman Center for Women offers tips on healthy practices for moms – before, during, and after – pregnancy.

Two-year-old Ethan Walker recently ran circles around the exam room in Dr. John Hathaway’s office. Ethan’s older sister, Evelyn, 3, wasn’t far behind and baby brother, Nathan, 6 months old, slept in his car seat.

Mom Alisha Walker, 28, has a goal: She wants to have enough energy to keep up with her growing family. 

“The snap back from the first pregnancy was much easier than the third,” said Walker. “I barely had to do anything and I was right back into shape.” She said she had three typical pregnancies and the last two births came quickly. Young Ethan was born in triage – before Walker was checked into a delivery room at Methodist Hospital and the newest member of the family nearly arrived before dad could make it through the doors of Methodist Hospital.

Now with three children, Walker is looking for ways to get back into shape.

Dr. John Hathaway, her OB/GYN with the Coleman Center for Women, has been in practice for 12 years. He and his wife, Anna, are the parents of four children ages 22, 20, 17, and 14. He offers the following tips for remaining and regaining good health before, during and after pregnancy:

Q: What can women do now to have a healthy pregnancy?

A: First, if you are a smoker, quit smoking. Next, start with a prenatal vitamin. You can get an over-the-counter vitamin or a prescription from your doctor. Start now eating a healthy diet. Most people don’t need to add anything; they just need to eliminate things from their diet – like foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. You can still have ice cream but not as much as normal. I don’t think juice or soda is ever good for adults or children. I encourage moms to eat everything in moderation including green leafy vegetables. As a general rule, I suggest eating lots of foods with color, and remember that even a small amount of weight loss can increase fertility and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Q: What should women do during pregnancy to maintain good health?

A: Continue to eat healthy and continue to exercise. There are few exercises that you can’t continue through the first half of pregnancy. It’s fine to begin an exercise routine when you become pregnant, but toward the second half of pregnancy some things aren’t a good idea like riding a bike or weight lifting. Walking and swimming will always be healthy in pregnancy up to the day of delivery.

Q: How can new moms get back to normal weight after pregnancy?

A: First set proper expectations. It takes nine months to put on the extra weight and it can take about six months to take it off. It can be harder with each new pregnancy. The number one thing to consider is breastfeeding your newborn. Breastfeeding burns around 500 calories a day, which is equivalent to running seven miles. The second thing to do is drink plenty of water. Breastfeeding can make mom feel dehydrated and manifest hunger. When she sits down to nurse she should have a full glass of water at her side. Beyond that, mom should begin exercising as soon as possible – going on walks and light exercise to build up her strength. Remember: You lose weight in the kitchen; you gain muscle in the gym. 

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

Nurse With Transplant Runs With A Purpose

Even though her mom is a nurse, Leslie Ramusack never thought about a career in medicine until years after she was hospitalized for more than a month for a heart transplant. Now she works as an RN in the 36-bed Krannert Unit of University Hospital and in her spare time pursues a passion for running.

She’d never missed a day of school and was the picture of health. But not long after completing grad school at the University of Akron, Leslie Ramusack passed out in her Columbus, Ohio home and began experiencing chest pains.

“I really hadn’t noticed anything wrong until then. Sometimes when I’d turn my head in the car my chest hurt but nothing that I thought was serious,” said Ramusack.  It was the beginning of 1998 and she was just starting her first career in financial aid counseling and hoping to eventually move to Philadelphia.

At the urging of her mother, Donna Ramusack, a surgical nurse, Leslie Ramusack made a doctor’s appointment and was told she had an enlarged heart.

Some of the details of her health seem distant when she talks about recent accomplishments. This month she joined more than 40,000 participants for the OneAmerican 500 Festival Mini Marathon. It was the fourth time she’d competed in the race. She has also competed in the Chicago Marathon. In all, she has completed 15 half marathons in seven different states (Indiana, Ohio, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, & Tennessee), since her first in November of 2014 (The Monumental Marathon in Indy). 

“I’m not a fast runner; I just want to finish,” said Ramusack.  “I feel so blessed to have my health and I believe God smiles when I run. I believe I have a purpose.”

Running the distance is an accomplishment and a testimony to her road to a healthier heart.

Ramusack was in her 20s and considering a career move when the reality of her heart condition began to set in. Two days before flying out to Philadelphia for a job interview she got a call from her doctor.

“He told me not to walk up a lot of stairs and not to carry my luggage. I arrived in Philly and had a room on the fourth floor with no elevator,” said Ramusack. Her fears became real that first night in Philadelphia. She woke up scared of the unknown and cried and prayed throughout the night.

Three years following her first doctor’s appointment and after she had spent a relaxing Christmas in her parent’s Chicago home Ramusack began to realize the seriousness of her heart condition. She spent New Year’s Eve back in Philadelphia and on the following day she felt like she could collapse.

“I started swelling, retaining water, was tired – showing all the signs of my heart failing. I’d walk down the hill to visit my friend and had to a catch a ride home back up the hill,” she said.

By the end of February 2001 she scheduled an appointment with her cardiologist. She had gained about 30 pounds in water weight and was admitted to the hospital where she remained for the next 45 days. By about the third day she was told she would need a heart transplant. April Fool’s Day she called her mom, Donna and dad, Jerry and told them a new heart had been found and she was scheduled for a heart transplant later that day.  Her mom didn’t believe her at first but they quickly made plans to fly to Philadelphia and made it in time to see their daughter in the operating room before her six-hour transplant surgery.

She remains friends with her donor’s father on Facebook and knows that her heart belonged to a 21-year-old man who lived in Mississippi. She was discharged 13 days later and was back to work nine months later. While she was working in financial aid she began volunteering in a hospital as a pastoral care provider.

Three years after Ramusack received her heart transplant, her mother was diagnosed with the same condition and received a heart and kidney transplant. The hospital setting was not foreign to the family but Ramusack had never really thought about pursuing a career in medicine. In fact, at one point she thought about law school. But her volunteer experience in the hospital sparked an interest in nursing.

She obtained her nursing degree in June of 2009 and started working at IU Health in July. She met her husband Devin Tudor, an art teacher, in Indianapolis and the two were married two and half years ago.

“I love being a nurse. I understand being in the hospital from the patient’s perspective,” said Ramusack. “I work with people who have never spent a day in the hospital and I think by being in the hospital as a patient I can see clearly what a great hospital stay looks like. I love hearing all the great life stories from my patients. It’s so important to be able to connect with them.”

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

Foundation Funds Health Psychologist to Improve Lung Transplant Outcomes

When Danielle Henderson, PhD was growing up, she knew she had a knack for listening to people. What she couldn’t have predicted was how that talent would be put to work saving the lives of transplant patients.

Henderson is the inaugural fellow in the Indiana University Health Lung Transplant Psychology Fellowship. David Roe, MD, a pulmonologist at IU Health, collaborated with Yelena Chernyak, PhD, chief psychologist of the adult outpatient psychiatry clinic at the IU Health Neurosciences Center, to create the fellowship, using a grant from the Indiana University Health Foundation. Because IU Health is one of the nation’s top 10 lung transplant centers by volume, and the only one in the state of Indiana, Roe knows first-hand how depression and anxiety can dramatically affect a patient’s recovery and even survival.

Henderson says the real value of the fellowship is that it supports a psychologist whose sole focus is a patient’s emotions and concerns. She also knows other providers benefit from having someone to help when they see a patient in distress.

“I can be direct with patients when a family member might not be,” said Henderson. “I can lead patients through self-discovery by listening and reflecting back to the patient what they’ve said.”

Before a transplant, Henderson conducts a psychological evaluation with every patient. They discuss the procedure itself, plus the patient’s mental health, substance use and social support. Then Henderson recommends any necessary therapy or social services. “The best advice I give is on the pre-transplant side, when I caution they are trading one set of risks for another,” Henderson said.

Patients are not required to do a psychological evaluation post-transplant, but Henderson knows she can be useful then, too. “People say, ‘A transplant is harder than I thought it would be,’ or they ask me, ‘What do I do now?’” Henderson said. She counsels people to be patient, and helps them navigate the changes that come about due to pain, medications, time in the hospital, and shifting roles in the family. 

Henderson did her internship with Chernyak, who recommended that Henderson apply for the fellowship. “I jumped at the chance to work with Dr. Chernyak again,” said Henderson. “She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” After she completes the fellowship in August, Henderson will join Chernyak on the IU Medical School faculty.

“The fellowship has been rewarding and tremendous fun, because I am constantly learning, connecting with multi-disciplinary teams and learning from them,” said Henderson. “This experience has been an example of being in the place where you need to be.”

The IU Health Foundation can use your help to maintain funding for this fellowship and for other areas of greatest need at all 16 IU Health hospitals. Visit to learn how you can contribute to the programs and locations most important to you.

LifeLine Nurse: IndyCar Is Father’s Legacy

LifeLine Nurse Lisa Schlemmer grew up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway following her dad, a professional videographer, to various events. Now she spends her off days working on the racing circuit’s track safety team.

One of her favorite moments at the Indy 500 isn’t necessarily when she comes within a bumper’s width of a celebrated driver. For Lisa Schlemmer, that moment is when the race starts; the cars are grouped together taking one slow lap around the track, the green flag waving.

“My dad was always in the first turn and I always think about him and the excitement he felt at the beginning of each race,” said Schlemmer, a nurse with LifeLine. She was 17 when her father died of complications from a heart condition.

The only child of Joe and Carol Creek, Schlemmer’s racing memories include not just Indianapolis but other speedways throughout the Midwest – Eldora (Ohio), Terre Haute, Winchester, and Toledo (Ohio). Her dad worked as a cameraman for Dick Wallen Productions out of California. His job was capturing images of practices, qualifications and races. And Schlemmer and her mom were by his side taking in the action.

“Minors weren’t allowed in the infield so I hid in a large storage bench dad made to store his equipment inside the van. As we passed through the gates I’d crouch down and keep asking if we were inside yet,” Schlemmer says.

It was when her father was ill that Schlemmer decided to pursue a career in medicine. Joe Creek loved his iced tea. And during one hospital stay he was playing cards with his daughter when his heart rate soared. Nurses thought maybe it was because he was anxious over the card game. But Schlemmer asked if her dad had iced tea with his dinner and if it was caffeinated. 

“No one else had made that connection and it just made sense to me that caffeine would elevate his heart rate,” said Schlemmer. She was only about 15 at the time but that personal experience of patient care stuck with her. In high school she joined an EMT for a ride along and she was hooked.

“You make a difference in someone’s life one time and it’s the value and purpose that drives you,” said Schlemmer. Years after that incident with her father, Schlemmer remembers stabilizing a patient who was found unconscious by her husband and was swelling due to angioedema. Through quick work, Schlemmer was able to intubate right where she collapsed on the kitchen floor.

“After we got her intubated, her swelling progressed. So if we had not intubated her when we did they wouldn’t have been able to get the tube in. It could have saved her life. It made a difference by doing what we’re trained to do.” said Schlemmer.

It’s that quick response and attention to detail that drives Schlemmer in her career as a nurse.

A graduate of Fort Wayne’s Lutheran College Schlemmer began her career as a med/surg nurse, and then worked in ER for a time. While she was in ER she took an EMT class and worked with Wells County EMS, with the idea that she was going to gain as much experience as possible to help her land a job as a flight nurse. She also became a paramedic. It paid off – she eventually landed a job as a flight nurse with an air medical program in Fort Wayne.

In 2004 she started working as a paramedic with Rural/Metro, providing Emergency Medical Service coverage for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During her 10 years with the company she met her husband, Chip, also a paramedic, and they were married in 2005. They have three children Nick, Megan, and Tyler.

Last year, Schlemmer began working with LifeLine as a regional manager supporting the critical care bases outside of Indianapolis including Terre Haute, Richmond, Lafayette and Columbus. In her role she is also responsible for maintaining relationships with the hospitals and coordinating staffing and support at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May.

She and her husband also travel with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) providing a consistent safety presence for development drivers for NASCAR.

“We coordinate fire, recovery, restoration, and the medical care for our drivers, crew and officials, said Schlemmer. That could mean working with a wrecker towing cars or as a technical inspector weighing the cars. The series runs February through October and can take Schlemmer and her husband to as many as 20 races a year.

That includes the Indy 500 where she’s close enough to hear the racing tires, feel the heat from the track and see the drivers up close.

She was in a near miss with a golf cart driven by A.J. Foyt, spent the day with David Letterman in the Bobby Rahal pit, took in an insider’s view of the Andretti team, and was within inches of Tony Stewart. She ran into Richard Petty in a restaurant and has joked about Indiana’s unpredictable May weather with Sarah Fisher.

But one of her favorite memories was delivering the green flag aboard the LifeLine helicopter accompanied by Paul George and Pat McAfee. There was a special guest in their presence – a Riley patient that Schlemmer had once helped transport for emergency care.

“One of my favorite things about working as a transport nurse is the education and outreach to patients and families,” said Schlemmer. “Now I still do that but my education is internal with staff and I feel like by being involved in so many aspects of safety and care, I’m touching a lot more patients. I feel like I’m able to be their voice.”

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

LifeLine Nurse Meets Moms At Most Vulnerable Times

At any given moment, Susan Little could get the call – an expectant mother is in distress and she is ready to join a LifeLine crew to transport the mom to safety.

Like a Superhero, Susan Little arrives at her shift at Methodist Hospital Labor and Delivery Unit dressed in the hospital’s standard red uniform. But at any given moment she knows she could be switching into blue scrubs to assist at the bedside of a laboring mother, or changing into her jumpsuit and climbing aboard a LifeLine helicopter or ambulance.

“Some days I feel a little like Mr. Rogers always changing my uniform,” said Little. But for those in her care “Superhero” is fitting. She’s been a labor and delivery nurse at Methodist since 2010. A year later, she was one of the first nurses to join the LifeLine High Risk OB Transport Team, a group of healthcare providers that can make anywhere from 12-28 runs a month on ground or in the air.

“We may get a call that we need to come to Bloomington – that a patient has been in a motor vehicle accident and she is 32 weeks pregnant,” said Little. Other calls are about mothers with known fetal anomalies who need intervention by NICU. And others are experiencing high-risk pregnancies or preterm labor.

“It’s amazing because even if it’s maternal cardiac or neurologic issues we’re able to have the critical care staff work with the obstetrics staff to make sure that the woman gets the best care in the state of Indiana,” said Little.

As she talks, her compassion and energy are evident. She knows every minute counts.

“I can remember showing up in Jasper and the mom was dilated to six centimeters with a bulging bag of water. She had been that way for awhile so they deployed a peds team and we made it back to Methodist for her delivery.”

To date, she has had no deliveries during transport but she’s ready if necessary. It’s something that comes with training. When she’s on the labor and delivery unit at Methodist, Little is an extra set of hands assisting with deliveries and newborns. But she typically assists a primary care nurse so that the hand off is seamless for the patient when she gets the call to join the LifeLine crew.

“When the idea of a High Risk OB Transport Team was first introduced it was amazing to me and something I wanted to do my whole life,” said Little. “It brings together my greatest loves – caring for moms and working with a crew specializing in urgent care.”

A graduate of Franklin Central High School Little says that she dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was very young. At the age of 15 she signed up as a hospital volunteer and later worked as a CNA in a nursing home while pursuing her nursing degree. She was attending a vocational technical high school when she first heard a LifeLine nurse speak on career day and she got the bug. She attended Indiana State University and fell in love with obstetrics.

Little started her career working in oncology at a hospital in Ohio and continued applying for positions in labor and delivery. She was so sure that was where she was meant to be that she picked up extra shifts at a women’s center working with surgical patients.

Married to Shane Little, an engineer, Little stayed home with her two children for a time – Scott, 13 and Sydney, 12. When her husband’s job brought them back to Indiana, she set her mind to working at Methodist.

“Methodist is where you want to be for labor and delivery care,” said Little. “I have the best of both worlds. When I get to the patient’s bedside and see that look of relief I know they understand that I’m there to help,” said Little. “I let patients know I’m a mom and I let their families know that I’ll take care of them like my own daughter. I focus on easing their fears and concerns because most of the time I’m taking them out of their hometown environment, away from their support system and I think about the care I would want for my mom, daughter, or friend.”

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

She Reconstructs Breasts After Cancer Destroys Them, In Honor Of Her Mom

As Dr. Mary Lester headed off to medical school, she always had plastic surgery in the back of her mind. How wonderful would it be to make women feel whole again, like her mother did? To make them forget they ever had breast cancer?

Mary Lester was 8 years old and she had a dance recital to perform. She remembers getting all dressed up with her 11-year-old sister, Susan.

But as they left to head to the recital, there was a stop they needed to make first – before there would be any dancing – a stop at the hospital.

Their mom, 37-year-old Nancy Lester, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and, almost immediately, had a mastectomy.

As her mom recuperated, Mary Lester’s dad, Charlie, brought his two little girls to the hospital – so Nancy could do their hair.

It’s the most vivid memory Mary Lester has of the breast cancer that attacked her mom. She remembers her being gone from home. And she remembers the name Dr. Hartrampf.

It was that Georgia plastic surgeon, Dr. Carl Hartrampf, who reconstructed her mom’s breast – with a groundbreaking procedure called the TRAM flap. Nancy Lester was one of the first in the nation to undergo the surgery.

The TRAM stands for transverse rectus abdominis, a muscle in the lower abdomen between the waist and pubic bone. A flap of that skin, fat, and all or part of the underlying rectus abdominus muscle are used to reconstruct the breast, called a TRAM flap procedure.

Unlike implants, the tissue was Nancy Lester’s own with its own circulation. It felt like a real breast. 

“It made me feel whole again,” said Nancy Lester last week. “I came through that surgery just feeling great.”

And so, as Mary Lester headed off to college and then medical school and started thinking about what specialty she would go into, she always had plastic surgery in the back of her mind. 

How wonderful would it be to make women feel whole again, like her mother did? To make them forget they ever had breast cancer?

That’s exactly what Dr. Lester does now as a plastic surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital. More than half of her surgeries are breast reconstruction, implants and flaps. She is performing the next generation of the same procedure her mom had in 1982.

“I am proud of my daughter,” Nancy Lester said.

She knows firsthand just how important it is what her daughter’s doing.


She thought she might like to be a lawyer. But when Dr. Lester hurt her knee playing powder puff football in high school, that changed. She had to have her ACL repaired and she had a dynamic woman doctor.

Dr. Lester decided she would be a doctor, too. She had grown up in a family of physicians. Her grandfather, on her mom’s side, was a doctor in a small town. Her dad had doctors in his family.

“It rubs off on you,” she says.

For two summers as a young woman, Dr. Lester worked alongside her dad’s first cousin, a general surgeon. Because he practiced in a small town, he did a little bit of everything. 

One summer, they were doing a mastectomy on a patient. The next summer, that patient came back for an implant-related, touch-up surgery.

“That was my first real medical experience with breast cancer,” Dr. Lester says. “I was always interested in it, but I knew I wanted to be a surgeon as soon as I spent that time with him.”

After her undergrad at Auburn University and medical school at Emory University, Dr. Lester trained in general surgery at Emory in Atlanta.

She then moved to Charleston, S.C., for her plastic surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2008, she completed a microsurgical breast fellowship in Charleston with Dr. Bob Allen. 

It was Dr. Allen who became a mentor to Dr. Lester. It was Dr. Allen who had taken Dr. Hartrampf’s procedure, that Nancy Lester had received, to the next level – a less invasive, muscle sparing, microsurgery version.

“That’s what sparked it for me,” Dr. Lester said. “I could be that surgeon who brought the positive back after such a scary time.”


Nancy Lester remembers that scary time. It was in June of 1982 and she was 37 years old when she found a lump in her breast during a self exam.

Her twin sister was a nurse practitioner. At their grandmother’s 100th birthday party, Nancy Lester told her sister about the lump.

“If you have a lump and you still have it a month later you need to have a biopsy,” her sister told her.

Nancy Lester got in to see a cancer specialist to have a biopsy. While in the operating room, he sent a piece of tissue off to be frozen and immediately looked at for cancer cells.

When Nancy Lester woke up, he told her she had cancer.

“He said, ‘In a couple of weeks, we will take off your breast,’” Nancy Lester says. “And I said, ‘No, no. If I have cancer, I want it off right away.”

Just days later, she was in surgery having her breast removed.

The surgeon removed 15 lymph nodes, which were all negative. Her breast cancer was Stage 1. The tumor was less than two centimeters with no evidence of metastasizing.

But Nancy Lester remembers feeling the need to replace that breast. She was still so young. She went to medical libraries and researched, looking at microfilm. She sought out Dr. Hartrampf for the new surgery, that TRAM flap.

Months later, at age 38, she became the 74th person in the nation to receive the tram flap.

And now Dr. Lester is doing the same for other women.

“I always tell my patients, ‘The goal is when you get up and put on a dress or put on a swimsuit, you’re not thinking about the fact you had breast cancer,’” she says. “That’s what I love doing for patients. We get to do the final part. We are the happy part of their journey.”

More with Dr. Lester

* She is married to Joel Corvera, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at Methodist. The two met during their general surgery residencies. They have two children, a 9-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy.

* Dr. Lester joined the plastic surgery team at Methodist in 2010.

* Due to her family history of breast cancer, Dr. Lester started annual mammograms and MRIs at age 28, spaced six months apart – along with medical exams.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Doctor’s Work Is Labor of Love

Dr. Sharon Walker-Watkins is one of the first OBGYN hospitalists at IU Health West. Often the first time she meets expectant moms is when they are ready to welcome their newborn into the world.

When new mom Raquel Faires was recently admitted to IU Health West she met her delivery doctor for the first time. Dr. Sharon Walker-Watkins is an OBGYN hospitalist who works 24-hour shifts bringing new babies into the world. She doesn’t maintain a practice outside the hospital; her focus is inside the hospital – specifically labor and delivery.

“It’s comforting just knowing there’s someone I can ask questions,” said Faires. “To me it makes no difference that I didn’t see her throughout my pregnancy.”

And just as Faires feels at ease with the practitioner who will coach her through the delivery of her son, Dr. Walker-Watkins is also relaxed in her role. In fact, just days before she met Faires, Dr. Walker-Watkins was at the bedside of one of her three daughters as her first grandchild entered the world. The little girl was named “Sekai” meaning laughter.

Dr. Walker-Watkins is already thinking about her grandma name, “Grand Sam.” Sam is what most people call Dr. Walker-Watkins. When her daughter was in labor, Dr. Walker-Watkins did what comes naturally – she talked to the tending physician about her experience and stayed on top of the progress every step of the way.

“It’s like being a chef or a car mechanic. I could totally see what was happening and the doctor already knew I was an OBGYN and respected that and kept me involved,” said Dr. Walker-Watkins. “I always wondered what it would be like being on the other side – with family. I was supportive of her but also supportive as a medical professional. My daughter trusts me – that I would make the right decision – but I would want someone objective to make the final decision for her care.”

That trust is something that Dr. Walker-Watkins knows well. It has come with experience. It has come with reputation and built over time.

She meets patients for the first time when they come to the hospital to deliver their babies. It’s her job to provide 24-hour hospital coverage for those moms. It’s a role that gives primary care physicians work life balance.

“They can leave at 5 p.m. enjoy dinner with their families and know that their patients are cared for if they go into labor in the middle of the night. We cover their practice over night so they can come in refreshed and recharged the next day,” said Walker-Watkins. For patients like Faires, the practice of hospitalists is becoming widely accepted because most practices have multiple physicians. Any one of those practitioners could be on call at any given time for labor and delivery

“There’s always a laborist in the hospital so if there’s ever an emergency or event happening fast we are readily available to care for the patient. And there’s always a doctor available to work alongside the nurses,” said Dr. Walker-Watkins.

This month the IU Health West OBGYN hospitalist program marks it’s second year of practice.

For Dr. Walker-Watkins, one of the founding hospitalists, the around-the-clock care is a continuation of her career. For more than 20 years she maintained a private practice in OBGYN.

A native of Michigan, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and attended Howard University for medical school. Working seven days a month Dr. Walker-Watkins enjoys the flexibility of her role and knowing that she is making a difference in the lives of her patients.

“Whenever I go out with my daughters we run into people who say, ‘you delivered my baby,’ or ‘you delivered my daughter’s baby.’” It’s rewarding to know I was part of that,” said Dr. Walker-Watkins.  “Whether it’s their first child or their third, it’s so satisfying to know that each experience is unique to every mother.”

More about Dr. Walker-Watkins

  • She is married to Chuck Watkins, a retired police officer
  • She enjoys golfing, traveling – her three daughters live in three different states.

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

She Was Born At Methodist, Had 3 Babies At Methodist And…Wait For It… Is A Labor And Delivery Nurse at Methodist

The date was July 17, 1950 and little Sandy Humphrey burst into the world inside a delivery room at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

She was the daughter of a mother who was a homemaker and a father who worked in the insurance industry. She was a sweet, precious little bundle.

Yet, as the nurses and doctors took care of baby Sandy nearly 68 years ago, they could have had no idea just what this hospital would mean to her – for years to come.

Methodist has, literally, been Humphrey’s life.

She had her three babies at Methodist — Stephen in 1979, Jacob in 1982 and Anne in 1983 — and she landed her first nursing job at Methodist in 1972.

“It’s been a good home to me,” Humphrey said Thursday after getting off her 12-hour shift in labor and delivery. “It really has.”


Growing up in Indianapolis, Humphrey didn’t really think about becoming a nurse. To put it in her words, she was lousy at math and science.

She really liked caring for people, though, so Humphrey thought social work might be a good fit.

But on her first campus visit to the University of Evansville, she and her parents happened to run into the dean of the nursing school. She took Humphrey into her office.

By the time she left Evansville, her path had been set. She would become a nurse.

When she graduated in 1972, Humphrey landed a job back at Methodist in the intensive care unit. She liked it there a lot and got tons of experience.

Over the next four decades, she had several different jobs at the hospital, including hospice care, training units on a new computer charting system, high-risk OB LifeLine, infection control, teaching, post partum and now – labor and delivery.

She came to the unit in 1996 and has been a part of delivering thousands of babies. Even after 22 years, she doesn’t ever take for granted that little lullaby that plays inside Methodist when a healthy baby is born.

“When I hear it I say, ‘Thank you Lord for another new life,’” she says.

“And thank you for letting me be part of a miracle every night I am at work.”

More with Humphrey

Personal: Humphrey has three children with her late husband, who died of cancer 14 years ago. She has six grandchildren, who are the fifth generation to live in Indianapolis.

Outside of Methodist: She loves being outdoors, doing yard work, gardening and spending time with her grandchildren. She can sometimes be found at a state park, hiking the entire day. The family enjoys spending time at their cottage at Lake Wawasee.

What does it take to be a great nurse? “Individuality, because everybody comes into it with their own personality. It takes compassion. It takes a deep care of people. It takes the desire to want to help people. Yes, you have to have your science and math and the knowledge, but you have to have a willingness to see the heart and not just see the patient.”

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Surgeon Travels 2,000 Miles To Treat Patients

IU Health Ball Memorial Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgeon Linda Camp has made numerous trips to Honduras to treat patients.

She took her first trip to Honduras in 2005 and has made more than a dozen return trips since. Dr. Linda Camp, a plastic surgeon with IU Health Ball Memorial is committed to a team that is dedicated to serving in a country 2,000 miles away from the Hoosier state.

Working in the mountainous village of Santa Rosa de Copan, Dr. Camp joins a number of other medical professionals, including IU Health Methodist Hospital nurse practitioner Lori Kemper and IU Health anesthesiologist Dr. David Dycus. Their goal during the trips is setting up a clinic in this remote community of Honduras to serve residents who otherwise would not have access to specialized healthcare.

“We’ve had as many as 140 people in one day,” said Camp. “We have patients who come from 16 hours away – by bus, multiple modes of transportation. It’s amazing the barriers they overcome to get to healthcare.” When she first started with the medical missions, Camp worked under challenging conditions – performing surgery on outdated tables and with older anesthesia machines. Now under the leadership of Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO), healthcare providers work from an air-conditioned hospital with updated operating tables, tools and devices.

“The going is the sensational part but we reach many providers throughout IU Health that have helped us carry out our mission,” said Camp. Retired suture supplies; surgical gowns and equipment have been donated over the years to aid in the Honduras mission.

On any given trip, Camp can be involved in 25-30 surgeries a week including cleft lips and palates, scar deformities and ear reconstruction.

“I go and I go back because I feel like when you’ve been so blessed it’s required to give back,” said Camp. “I feel like I can do that on this trip. Out of abundance you can give a gift.

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