2019 Merriman Awards Honor Three Nurses

An extra-happy Nurses Week to the three IU Health nurses who have been named winners of the “Lynda,” the Lynda A. Merriman Award for Compassionate Care. Thanks to the generosity of Chuck Merriman, this award honors the kind of dedicated IU Health team members who eased his wife Lynda’s seven-month battle with cancer at IU Health Simon Cancer Center and University Hospital. The Lynda is a cash award to recognize standout team members. Lynda winners are nominated by their peers at IU Health hospitals statewide.

The three winners are:

Jessica Snyder, RN is a wound ostomy continence nurse at IU Health North Hospital. She was nominated by Shelly Lancaster, RN and other colleagues at IU Health North.

“I routinely hear from her patients how they have appreciated her gentle and caring manner as much as her clinical expertise,” said Lancaster. “She regularly helps patients come to terms with their ‘new normal’ and helps them to master the self-care required to cope with a new ostomy.”

Lancaster shared one story that exemplifies Snyder’s outstanding care. Snyder had several times cared for a patient at IU Health North with complex wound care and ostomy needs. When that patient turned up in the emergency room at IU Health Saxony Hospital and was admitted there, the patient asked for Snyder. With her supervisor’s okay, Snyder packed up her supplies and traveled the half hour to IU Health Saxony. She continues to return there when this patient needs her.

Elaine Butler, RN improves the entire nursing team at IU Health Morgan Cancer Center, according to her nominator, Sonya Payne, RN.

“Most great oncology nurses demonstrate compassion—how could we not?” said Payne. But Payne says Butler is a standout because she improves the entire nursing team at the cancer center, with a special emphasis on continuing education for herself and her colleagues, and her willingness to guide new nurses. “Elaine is dedicated to her specialty,” said Payne. “She is a great role model and mentor.”

Payne pointed out two areas in particular in which Butler excels. One is having difficult conversations with patients, including discussions of death and dying. “No matter how busy she is as a charge nurse, Elaine will stop what she is doing and give the patient her full attention,” said Payne. “She truly listens—which is often what our patients need most.” The second is ensuring that the team has proper orders, education and support to practice safely, and care for every type of cancer patient.

Jean Kolp, NP at IU Health Arnett Primary Care goes well beyond medical care to deliver holistic experiences for her elderly people throughout the community, according to Brenda DeBlaso, practice manager.

“The senior population Jean works with daily can be very challenging, and she always has a smile and kinds words for her patients,” said DeBlaso. Kolp, who receives referrals from Arnett Primary Care Physicians, assists with overall wellness, psychosocial, financial and socialization issues for patients as well as their caregivers. She also holds an advisory position at Indiana Wesleyan University, in which she mentors nurse practitioner students.

In addition to completing Individualized Medicare Annual Wellness visits (she did over 900 in 2018), Kolp shares resources and opportunities with her colleagues at IU Health and throughout the seniors-serving community in Lafayette. She established the Indiana Geriatric Society of Greater Lafayette; volunteered to coordinate Healthfest 2019, which will provide education and resources to thousands of Lafayette geriatric residents and their families; and promotes socialization for seniors by volunteering for the local Senior Games and Wacky Wednesday movie days.

During the month of May, you can support outstanding nurses by donating to the Distinguished Nurse Excellence Fund, the only statewide fund benefiting nurses. Visit the IU Health Foundation to learn how contributions support people, progress and partnerships. Two additional “Lynda” winners, who are not nurses, will be announced later in May.