Wizards work their magic in Harry Potter style at Methodist safety fair

Diagon Alley was there. So was Platform 9 3/4 and the sorting hat. And a room for the Dark Arts. There was even an attempt at a Quidditch match and creepy keys hanging from the ceiling.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll recognize the references. The ridiculously popular fantasy book series by J.K. Rowling and subsequent movies were the inspiration behind the annual safety fair for the cardiovascular critical care unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

The sixth-floor special pathogens unit was the setting for a Harry Potter-themed event designed to give 120 team members, aka Muggles, from the CVCC a refresher course on competencies, quality and safety on the job.

Jessica Jones, aka Professor Dumbledore, was rocking the robe, wand and flowing beard as the master wizard during this week’s three-day fair. Jones is clinical manager of the CVCC, and she looks forward to the safety fair each year as a novel way for fellow nurses to update their skills.

“I think learning happens more when you’re having fun with your peers,” she said before disappearing behind Platform 9 3/4 into the Great Hall. There, around an elegant table set with candelabras, goblets and charger plates, team members would reach into the “sorting hat” to find out which house they’d be joining for the friendly competition.

Then teams would rotate through five decorated rooms with various education focuses. Think lumbar drains, hemodynamic monitoring, skin protection, mobility devices, emergency procedures and communications.

The latter delved into not just communication with patients and families, but also among nurses themselves. They were challenged to be better listeners and better advocates for one another.

As participants answered questions, they earned tokens, which translated into points for their “house.” The team with the most points at the end earned bragging rights.

About 20 members of the CVCC team were involved in planning this year’s fair, a process that usually begins six months before the summer event.

As a Harry Potter aficionado, RN Victoria Lomax was in her element. She dressed as Luna Lovegood, a witch, brave member of Dumbledore’s Army and a member of House of Ravenclaw, who is considered a bit odd by her classmates. With her long blond locks and wand, Lomax/Luna shuttled her nurse peers through activities focused on patient mobility issues and skin protection.

Lomax, who read all seven of the Harry Potter books one summer during college, donated some of the props used in the safety fair from her own collection. She has a themed room at home.

Watching as teams competed to safely secure and lift a “patient” in a chair lift, clinical educator Jenny Baker downplayed her role as mastermind of the event.

The organizers do all the work, she said. She just manages some of the logistics behind the scenes. Baker, dressed to the nines as Hogwarts Headmistress and High Inquisitor Delores Umbridge, loves the camaraderie of the event.

“The most powerful thing that’s happening here is peer-to-peer education and influence,” she said. “We’re just lucky we have a staff that’s committed to teaching one another and sharing knowledge. That’s really part of a healthy work environment.”

Jones said the safety fair wouldn’t have the same impact if she and Baker did the teaching.

“This creates a safe place where asking questions is encouraged. This is the kind of team we have, one that supports each other and teaches each other.”

– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist

Email: mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist

Email: mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

Brothers Bound by Blood and a Single Kidney: “Kaisers Never Quit”

Like most brothers, Greg and Mark Kaiser were competitive.

“They both loved sports and were always at it. They had their good moments and bad moments but they never got angry. Whatever game they were playing they turned into a competition,” said Loretta Kaiser. She and her husband Vernon raised three boys – Scott, the youngest, Mark, the middle son, and Greg, the oldest – in rural Crown Point.

As youngsters the boys often played pick up games of basketball. Later when their dad added a sand volleyball pit, the boys invited friends over for friendly competitions.

“We had a lot of acreage in the backyard so there was always a whiffle ball or baseball game going on and the boys loved exploring the woods,” said Loretta Kaiser. The two older brothers also had something else in common – they both suffered from asthma and allergies. “It’s like they both knew what they could and couldn’t eat. I didn’t work because I was taking them to their doctor appointments,” said Loretta Kaiser. “They were in the ER plenty of times.”

Other than that, the boys were relatively healthy. They remember having a few sports injuries – Mark broke his wrist and ankle; Greg received a severe cut at recess in the fourth grade. They played on the same Little League teams and in high school Mark pursued wrestling and football and Greg pursued basketball.

“Greg made it his goal to make the varsity basketball team his freshman year of high school. He practiced morning, noon and night,” said Loretta Kaiser.


This summer, Greg Kaiser, 42, put his athleticism toward a cause. He participated in both the National Kidney Foundation Walk and Charity Basketball Game. Mark Kaiser joined him on the walk through White River State Park – raising awareness of kidney disease. It was the second year they walked together. This year’s walk was a little different for the brothers who once competed on the courts and fields.

This year they celebrated a connection. On September 27, 2018, Mark, 40 donated his kidney to his older brother. The transplant was a culmination of months of illness for Greg, who is married to Kristen Kaiser and the father of three boys.

“The day of Christmas 2017 I wasn’t feeling good and the day after I went to a minute clinic and was sent to ER,” said Greg. His right lung was filled with fluid. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and further tests showed renal failure. He was immediately put on dialysis and eventually went through emergency surgery to drain his lungs. He spent 24 days in the hospital. As soon as Greg was released from the hospital Mark began the testing process to become a kidney donor for his brother.

“I don’t think I hesitated for a minute after he spent so many days in the hospital and knowing he’d be on the donor list for some time, I knew what I had to do,” said Mark, who is married to Jen Kaiser.

Over the years the brothers’ relationship grew from one of competitiveness to collaboration. Greg attended Purdue University and pursued a degree in building construction management. Mark went to Valparaiso University and works in civil engineering. For a time after college they lived together in Memphis. As adults they live within a mile of each other, join each other for morning workouts, vacations, and home projects.

So on the day of surgery, the brothers requested to have their rooms side by side.

“Mark went in an hour and half before me and our prep rooms were across from each other but after surgery, they put us at opposite ends of the hall. We look so much alike they didn’t want to get us confused,” said Greg.


It was a challenging time for his family.

Greg Kaiser’s wife was entering her third trimester of pregnancy with their third child when Greg was diagnosed with kidney disease. Like other things in their lives, she said the birth was scheduled to accommodate Greg’s health needs. Greg had surgery to insert the catheter to begin home dialysis and was still going to hemodialysis three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. His wife was induced on a Sunday so Greg could feel well enough to spend time with his wife and newborn before going back to the dialysis center.

“When I think about that period of time, I really feel like we coped because we divided the responsibilities,” said Kristen Kaiser. “I was largely responsible for caring for our children and managing their well-being. He was responsible for managing his health, taking his medication and going to appointments. We both relied heavily on the support of family, friends, and co-workers.”

The news that Mark Kaiser was a match for his brother meant many things for the family. Greg could eat normal foods, spend less time at doctor’s appointments, and there would be an end to his nightly dialysis.

“I said Greg was like Cinderella. Normal during the day, a kidney patient from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” said Kristin Kaiser. It was a predictable routine.

“To put my faith in surgeons and to risk something going wrong was scary,” said Kristin Kaiser. “My feelings were further complicated because a family member I love was donating an organ. So I had two people to worry about.”

It didn’t take long for the family to trust Greg’s surgeon, Dr. William Goggins.

“We quickly built a rapport with the transplant team and we read in advance all about Dr. Goggins, the LeBron James of kidney transplants,” said Kristin Kaiser. IU Health performs about 200 kidney transplants a year. Last year, Dr. Goggins performed his 2000th kidney transplant.

Kristin Kaiser said her worries were put to rest the evening after the transplant. A nurse asked Greg if he could stand to be weighed. He immediately said he wanted to walk the hall to see his brother.

“We told him it was too far but he could go the next day. He stood and started walking toward Mark’s room. I will never forget the look on Mark’s face when Greg walked in,” said Kristin Kaiser. “When I think about all that we’ve gained it is with the knowledge that so much of it has to do with Greg’s strength and determination to get healthy. He was a good patient. I don’t remember him complaining or throwing any pity parties for himself. He faced every challenge with the attitude that Kaisers never quit.”

–By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health. Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

Everything You Need To Know About Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is mainly performed to adjust various parts of the body or face to reach the beauty and aesthetic goals. The cosmetic surgery is an invasive kind of surgery which is performed for improving the skin, adding or removing hair, adjusting facial features and many more. Besides beauty, this surgery is often used for many medical purposes for restoring the body part functions or to repair any scars after any accident or surgeries.

Different forms of cosmetic surgery

There are different forms of this surgery and these are:

  1. Breast augmentation: Done for increase the size or changing the shape of the women breasts.
  2. Dermabrasion: Done for sanding down the top layer of your skin for a smoother and brighter look.
  3. Facelift: Done for repairing the loose, sagging, wrinkled and drooping skin of your face.
  4. Hair Transplantation: Done for restoration of your hair for improving the appearance of baldness.
  5. Rhinoplasty: Done for repairing or reshaping the misaligned or defective shape of nose.
  6. Lip augmentation: Done for improving the appearance of the lips and to get a fuller looking lips.
  7. Liposuction: Done for improving the shape of your body and for removing the fat deposits.
  8. Tummy tuck: Done for improving the shape of the abdomen and for removing the excess fat or skin.

Things to consider before surgery

There are some things that you need to consider before you are ready for this surgery:

  • Have realistic expectations: When a cosmetic surgeon is operating on you for improving a body part, you must not think that it will change your entire look. You can consult with the surgeon about what to expect from the surgery.
  • Research is important: You need to do your own research regarding the surgeon you are choosing the top plastic surgeons in Oklahoma. Also, you must to optimum research about the side effects and risks related to the surgery.
  • Special care: You need to take some special care pre and post surgery is done. For exact and more details about the care to be taken, you need to call your surgeon and ask more details about the care that you need to take.
  • Think before you step: Going through this surgery is a major decision and hence you should not take it hastily. You must think before you finalize your decision of having cosmetic Rash decision can often result into bad results.


So, cosmetic surgery is definitely one of the most expensive and amazing forms of surgery. You can get your defects rectified and improve the appearance to a great extent. But before you finalize the Oklahoma plastic surgeons, you need to consider his experience, reliability, certification and field of expertise. All these factors are quite crucial to ensure that the surgery goes perfectly well without any problem. You need to know and understand that this surgery is not only for making your look good but also sometime for rectifying your defected parts. Hence, you should discuss with your surgeon about what to expect and what not to before you finally get ready for the surgery.

Contact US:

Sawan Surgical Aesthetics
Address:209 Lilac Dr #200, Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: (405) 285-7660

‘Singing Cop’ Hopes to Subdue Cancer

His dad likes to tell the story about how young Dillen Sexton dressed up one Halloween as a police officer. And when he watched cartoons he’d cry until his parents turned on the news.

He always knew he wanted to make a difference – to help others.

Growing up he raced stock cars and at one point thought he might be a NASCAR driver but realized law enforcement was his calling. A resident of Greenfield, Ind., Sexton graduated from Eastern Hancock High School in 2012 and received an associate degree in criminal justice from Ivy Tech. After working as a prison guard for three years he was hired as a correction officer for the Hancock County jail and then as a police officer.

“We call him the singing cop because he’d spend hours in his room playing guitar and playing country tunes for friends around a campfire,” said his dad, Jim Sexton. Dillen is the middle of three boys born to Jim and Zora Sexton.

“As a police officer on the road there’s something new every day,” said Dillen Sexton, 25. “I’m on the night shift and get a lot of calls about robberies. You go in with the door busted and don’t know what you’re walking into. There could be people hyped up on drugs, something domestic – you just never know,” said Sexton. “We are proactive with drug control and I think there’s a lot to be said about asking questions. You find out a lot. I like serving the community. You train as if your life or someone else’s life depends on it.”

It was February when Sexton was watching TV and felt pain in his groin. The next day he was driving on a bumpy road and the pain was even more noticeable. He went to his family doctor and an ultrasound revealed a two-centimeter mass on his left testicle. He was scheduled for an orchiectomy soon after and was referred to IU Health oncologist Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, known for his successful treatment of testicular cancer – germ cell tumors – using a mix of high dose chemotherapies and peripheral stem cell transplant.

“The options outlined for me were surveillance – to keep an eye on the cancer and make sure it doesn’t spread, or have lymph nodes removed. I opted for surveillance,” said Sexton. Then in June tests showed an enlarged lymph node in his abdomen and a small tumor in his right lung. He started chemotherapy on July 1.

“I had hoped it was just a cyst but I knew a little bit about testicular cancer. I had written a paper on Lance Armstrong in middle school,” said Sexton. Armstrong, a professional road-racing cyclist, was also treated by Dr. Einhorn at IU Health.

As he recently completed the end of his first round of chemo, Sexton said, “I feel pretty good. I am still going to the gym and haven’t had too many side effects.” Coworkers with the Hancock County Sherriff’s Department have shown their support by selling “Sexton Strong” bracelets.

“I feel blessed. It could be 100 times worse. My dad has gone through cancer treatment for leukemia for the past two years and my uncle and great uncle have both been diagnosed with cancer,” said Sexton. “In my line of work I’ve learned a lot about empathy. It’s one of the most important tools you can have to show people that you just want to make things better.”

–By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health. Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

Blocking Out Damaging Sun Rays

UV radiation is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These cancers affect more than 250,000 Americans each year.

Many researchers believe that UV radiation frequently plays a key role in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that often resists drug treatment. It occurs when pigment-producing skin cells, called melanocytes, become cancerous. Studies have shown that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun increases your risk of getting melanoma, especially if you had sunburns during childhood. UV rays can damage the DNA in skin cells. Sometimes this damage affects certain genes that control how skin cells grow and divide. If these genes no longer work properly, the affected cells may become cancer cells.

Best ways to protect yourself:

  • Stay in the shade, especially between 10 am – 4 pm
  • Avoid getting sunburnt
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day
  • For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
  • Examine your skin, head-to-toe, every month for suspicious moles
  • See your physician annually for a professional skin exam

ABCs of spot changes

The first sign of melanoma is typically a new spot on the skin, or a change in the size, shape or color of an existing mole.

The ABCDE method may help you determine whether an abnormal skin growth may be melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: The mole has an irregular shape.
  • Border: The edge is not smooth, but irregular or notched.
  • Color: The mole has uneven shading or dark spots.
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving or Elevation: The spot is changing in size, shape or texture.

Nurse, Mother of Six: “Don’t Let a Bumpy Road Stand in Your Way”

She beams when she talks about the title on her IU Health badge: “RN” – and for good reason. Tiea Madden’s graduation was one of three in her family within a year. When she received her Associate degree in healthcare support with a clinical concentration it was the first time she walked across the stage to receive a diploma.

That walk was all it took to propel her toward her Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I always wanted to be a nurse. My grandmother was a nurse and I remember seeing her graduation picture where she was all dressed in the white uniform with the white cap. I loved that and always admired that,” said Madden, 46. The thing is, that dream didn’t become a reality until a few months ago.

Madden grew up in Indianapolis one of 10 children in a blended family.

“It was a challenging environment. I was in sixth grade, age 12 when I had my first child,” said Madden. At the age of 11 she moved to California to be closer to extended family but eventually returned to Indianapolis and attended high school through her junior year. It was tough raising a child so young and she eventually dropped out of school to care for her daughter.

“As my family put it to me ‘I was no longer a kid and everything I did from that point forward would be for my daughter.’ The playtime was over but the truth is I always felt like I was in an adult position. I was always taking care of my siblings so it wasn’t really that much different,” said Madden. She began working as a sales associate for Value City and said that is where she found one of her greatest support systems – co-workers who became lifelong friends.

She was working toward her GED when her second child was born, a son named Blake. Two years later she had twins, a girl named Tayler and a boy named Tyler.

“They were delivered at Methodist Hospital and one was born natural and one was born by cesarean. One was born before midnight on July 7 and one was born after midnight. So they have different birthdays,” said Madden.

With four children to support Madden went to work at Firestone as a press operator and in the maintenance area where she was responsible for quality control and inspection. She also learned as much as she could about first aid and received training to be on the first responder and Hazmat teams. She continued working at Firestone for 15 years. She bought a house and began traveling, taking her family on vacations to Disney and Branson. She also enjoyed trips to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cancun, and the Mexican Riviera. The father of her youngest two children, David Hamilton, shared some of those trips, a man she met in 2005. Four years later she began working on her associate degree that included an EKG certification. As part of her training she was required to complete an externship and 60 EKGs. That’s when Madden came to IU Health Methodist Hospital. Once she completed her degree in 2012, she joined the heart station team at Methodist.

With 57 transferrable credits, two years ago Madden took advantage of the IU Health tuition assistance program and enrolled in nursing school.

“It took two years and a couple of months but I did it. I finally accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do and didn’t ever think I’d get here. I’m so proud to be a nurse,” said Madden. On Thanksgiving week last year, she began working on the Medical Progressive Care Unit at IU Health University Hospital.

“Our unit is one of the top in the country and our patient population accounts for about 50 percent of the healthcare industry. It keeps me thinking outside the box, constantly engaged and asking questions,” said Madden. “Most of my patients are severely ill – that’s the reality of the unit. I want my patients and families to know I gave my all and at the end of day everything was done for the benefit of the patient.”

She describes spending time with the family at the end of a patient’s life.

“It’s a hard thing to watch from all aspects – whether it’s me or the family members. So I wanted to be sure their loved one was completely comfortable going to a peaceful place,” said Madden. “It was difficult because I had actually got this patient up in the morning and six hours later they were gone. Being there through the whole process made me part of the process. In the end we all embraced. Each family member showed such appreciation.”

What motivates her in her career has also driven her at home – as a mother and as a caregiver to her mother, diagnosed with cancer.

Her first daughter, Whitney, is now 33 and has a 12-year-old child of her own. Like her mother, she also works in healthcare as a certified medical assistant and recently earned her degree in human resources management. Her second child graduated from IU last year and moved to Chicago where he is working in global logistics. Her twins just turned 25, and her two youngest sons, David and Davin are 12 and 10.

“I’ve never been that person that says, “I’m not going down this road because it’s too bumpy. Instead, I make my own path around it,” said Madden, who is now working toward her degree as a nurse practitioner. There’s always an alternative. You define your own destiny and create your own pathway. I’ve tried to instill in my children ‘you can be anything you want to be. It doesn’t matter what others say, it’s up to you.’ I believe I give my children all the necessary things they need to nurture, grow and have a realistic view of what life is. My kids won’t step out in the world and be fooled.”

–By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health. Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

“Mommy, are you melting?”

Busy mom, beauty consultant sheds 130 pounds after bariatric surgery, giving her the confidence she used to pretend she had.

Trisha Fish was closing in on 300 pounds when she made the decision to have bariatric surgery.

The Fortville beauty consultant and mother of two young children decided weight-loss surgery was her best chance to live her best life.

Diagnosed at age 20 with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age, Fish struggled with irregular periods, weight gain and difficulty getting pregnant because of the disorder.

She underwent fertility treatments to conceive with her husband, Jon, and now is a busy mom to a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

But the PCOS, the pregnancies and her busy lifestyle took a toll, and her weight ballooned over the years.

Her OB-GYN was the person who first suggested that Fish would be a good candidate for bariatric surgery. But she wasn’t convinced.

“I put it on the back burner,” she said. “I thought, I have two kids, and I don’t have time for any of that madness.”

She tried a strict keto diet and lost 20 pounds, but when she went away for a weekend with her husband, she gained much of it back.

“I joked that if I just licked a cupcake I would gain 10 pounds, but it really frustrated me.”

Then one of her clients in her beauty business had weight-loss surgery, and Fish marveled at her transformation.

“Every time she came in she looked younger and skinnier. I thought if she can do this at 60, I can do this at 35.”

So Fish did her research and found Dr. Dimitrios Stefanidis with IU Health North Hospital.

At her first weigh-in when joining the program, she watched the scale hit 297. She completed the required six-month supervised diet, then had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery March 28, 2018.

During the three weeks of her recovery after surgery, Fish’s parents cared for her two kids. When her son saw her for the first time, he asked, “Mommy, are you melting?”

SIZE 24 to SIZE 10

She has lost a total of 130 pounds, settling in at just under 170, and she’s happy there, she said. She’s gone from a size 24 pants to size 10 and from a 3X shirt to a medium.

At 5 feet, 4 inches, she’s not tall, but she says she’s also not built small. “I’m more muscular. I’m worried if I lose another 20-some pounds I might start looking a little gaunt in the face.”

And her face is important in her beauty business.

Even at her heaviest, Fish projected an air of confidence that she confesses now she didn’t always feel.

“When I decided to come out and be open with my story, one of the things I posted about was that I was good at pretending I was confident. But prior to a new client coming to see me, I would stress and fret about what I looked like and if they would be turned off by my size.”

But she was good at faking it, she said. Friends told her they would never have known she wasn’t 100% confident in who she was.

Still, she turned down professional opportunities because she was uncomfortable with her size.

And now? “I love this me. Losing the weight has given me the confidence that I pretended I had.”


At her one-year follow-up, she talked with Dr. Stefanidis about possibly losing more, but he said she looked fantastic and if she didn’t lose another pound she would still be a success story.

“I thought, OK then, I’m not going to stress about it. I’ll keep eating what I’m supposed to eat and if I lose pounds, I lose pounds.”

Fish does barre workouts two to three times a week. “I love how much stronger it makes me.” She brought her kids to a mommy and me workout class, something she could have never done before.

“Being able to do activities with them has been a highlight.”

She ignores the naysayers who suggest she took the “easy” way out. There is nothing “easy” about bariatric surgery, but she says IU North’s program is thorough and does a good job of preparing surgery candidates for the changes they must embrace.

The online support group was a lifesaver as well. When her weight loss stalled for eight weeks, she could go online and talk to others who had been on that roller coaster.

“It helps you feel not so alone.”

– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist

Email: mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Watch: IU Health North Cancer Center Construction Tour

The IU Health Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center at IU Health North Hospital is building on our promise to offer unmatched cancer services and patient care close home – all under one roof.

View a video tour, in which Sara Jo Grethlein, MD, provides a “sneak peek” into the new cancer center. Along the way, she shares with us many of its exciting features including a healing garden, retail dining experience, an adolescent and young adult center, integrative health area (including cosmetology and music and art therapies), an infusion suite, same-day clinic and much more. The IU Health Joe and Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center will open in January 2020.

Two chaplains, two hospitals, one home

They call it “creating a life of love by design.” Two IU Health chaplains met on the job and are now married and the parents of a three-year-old son.

The hospital room was packed as Staci Striegel-Stikeleather recently officiated the wedding of a patient. It was a final wish. The ceremony was not at all out of the ordinary for Striegel-Stikeleather. She and her husband Donald Stikeleather – both reverends – see their roles at IU Health as providing companionship for patients and meeting them where they are.

“I think I want to be present and listen to what people are really going through and come along side them,” said Staci. “I count on witnessing suffering. The idea that if you witness suffering, you witness healing,” said Donald.

Staci spends her time at IU Health University Hospital; Donald spends his time at Methodist Hospital. Staci is part of the hospital’s palliative care team. Their roles take them to the bedside to minister to patients and families and can include baptisms, weddings, new blessings and final blessings. Staci has performed two bedside weddings and Donald performed one in a hospital chapel for a woman who was preparing to deliver her first child.

Staci joined the team at IU Health eight years ago. A native of New Albany, Ind. she attended Marian University where she studied pastoral leadership. After completing her graduate degree at Catholic Theological Union she began her chaplain residency at IU Health.

Donald grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio and attended Purdue University with a degree in theater. He obtained a Master of Fine Arts with a focus on dance and performed for many years before going into seminary.

“They say you have six dances in you. I had done all six dances as a choreographer and was ready to try something new,” said Donald. It was when he spent time at the bedside of a dying friend that he felt a calling to ministry.

“There was a period of discernment and then I began clinical pastoral education. I was always encouraged to be me. So when I started at Purdue I was planning on a career in engineering but I ended up putting on tap shoes and hanging out at the theater,” said Donald.

His second career as a chaplain with IU Health gives him a chance to embrace the unique characteristics of each patient.

“I think it’s important to focus on what gives meaning to someone – whether it’s nature, music, or a collection of stones – and let something grow out of where they live as opposed to bringing something to them,” said Donald. His career at IU Health also introduced him to the woman who would become his wife. They met at University Hospital during a shift change. Donald was handing off a pager to a chaplain that Staci was shadowing. They became fast friends and their relationship grew from there.

“He was wearing a bow tie and I said ‘I want to be his friend,’” said Staci. They were married five years ago on June 14, 2014 in an outdoor ceremony at a local bed and breakfast. Staci wore a white dress and Donald wore Kurta-Asian formal attire. Among the 85 guests were a number of pastors.

“I have a relative who said that when we asked how many chaplains were in attendance there was a breeze as all the hands went up,” said Staci. “One of the most moving experiences in our ceremony was when we knelt on a quilt made by Donald’s grandmother and the audience came and prayed over us.”

The couple know the importance of those sacred moments and the impact those memories have on their patients and families. Donald is ordained by Dharma Ocean Foundation and Staci is ordained through the Federation of Christian Ministries. Their approach to patient care is not so much faith-based, as it is life experiences.

“In my role with palliative care, I follow patients for a lengthy time. There was one cystic fibrosis patient who was so sweet and when she was hospitalized a couple hours away from her family I spent a lot of time with her and it felt like sacred time,” said Stacy. “She would always say, ‘I love you,’ and we talked a lot about how she wanted a child, how she was scared that her life was short and even things like if she could take an oxygen tank to a Lady Gaga concert. It was about someone sharing their heart with me and that is special.”

Donald remembers an especially impactful time that he spent with a patient who declined surgery based on her cultural beliefs. “She was embraced by the unit staff and was strong enough to return home to her country. It was a special time to be part of that person’s life and honor their decision,” said Donald. “The best part of my job is being able to be with people who are alone and need companioning – to make a difference and reframing someone’s strength. I think I’m willing and curious to hear about an individual’s journey, and I don’t expect it to be cookie cutter. I had a patient who said he was a Jedi Knight and I said, ‘OK.’”

And when they go home to their three-year-old son, Sutton, the couple unwinds by spending mealtime as a family. They ground themselves working in the yard and have created an inter-religious grotto of meaningful religious symbols.

“I think I always knew I’d do something in ministry,” said Staci. “And I don’t know if I could be married to someone who is not a chaplain. It’s such an emotional and spiritual thing – a way of communicating and connecting emotionally.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

Like mother, like daughter

They took different paths but Colleen Fields and her daughter Haley Thornburg are both nurses at IU Health Ball Memorial.

It’s lunchtime at IU Health Ball Memorial and Colleen Fields is preparing to dine with her favorite co-worker. Her daughter Haley Thornburg had just finished in surgery when she meets her mom in the cafeteria.

Fields and her husband Michael were managing a video store in Parker City, Ind. when they started rethinking their finances. They had two daughters – Haley and her sister Holly Fields. So at the age of 43, Colleen Fields became a registered nurse. Her first job was with IU Health Ball Memorial Hospice. When Thornburg started Ball State majoring in nursing she shadowed her mother to work.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in ninth grade so I thought nursing would be good for me because my mom and I are very similar,” said Thornburg. “We like the same things and seeing mom as a hospice nurse well, I think every nurse is special but a hospice nurse is really a gift.” Both Thornburg and her sister also served as hospital volunteers.

“The best part of the job for Thornburg is interacting with her patients. “I’ve always had one patient at a time so I really get to focus on their needs. I focus on one patient, one surgery at a time,” said Thornburg.

During their lunch break, the mother and daughter talk about family events, plans for the weekend and sometimes the trials and triumphs of their day.

“I work in the pre-op clinic so sometimes I get to see Haley’s patients before they go into surgery,” said Fields. “Its kind of a team that they don’t even know about behind-the-scenes.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.