Twin sisters – Together through childhood and transplant

They played the same position on their high school basketball team, finish each other’s sentences, and share a bedroom that they say is cluttered with medicine.

Twins Daija and Dazhai Craig share a special bond. They are two of the oldest siblings in a family of seven and have never been apart. So when Daija traveled three hours across state lines to receive a kidney transplant at IU Health, Dazhai was right by her side. And she never left.

Four years ago, at the age of 17, Daija was diagnosed with premature kidneys. A fit athlete, she had been in great health and one day her blood pressure skyrocketed. Tests showed that her kidneys were failing. She began dialysis and was listed for a new kidney.

“Of course I was tested and I was a match but then we got the call to come to Indianapolis. There was a kidney for my sister,” said Dazhai. They left their home in Chicago and came to Indianapolis where Daija received a transplant on July 30 under the care of IU Health Dr. William Goggins.

Daija was a sophomore at Lighthouse Charter School when she received her diagnosis and was hospitalized closer to home for three months. The twins graduated in 2017 and put their lives on hold because of Daija’s health issues.

“It’s been hard,” said Dazhai. “We are so close. Our mom does hair and when she is with a client, I will sit and ask questions. Daija can be in another room and will come in and ask the same questions. When she’s sick, I know it. I can feel it,” said Dazhai. Their oldest sibling is 27, and their youngest is a year old.

“We’ve always been the main providers for our family,” said Daija. “When we get money we spend it on our siblings. We just care about family and we think alike.”

Pictures of the two sisters show them on vacations with their grandma – Jamaica, Mexico, the Cayman Islands – and milestones throughout their lives. Many of the pictures have them dressed identical – one of them in frilly white dresses holding bouquets of flowers, another when they are a little older dressed in leopard print, and a more recent photo of two teens dressed in jeans and blue flannel shirts.

“I feel like I’ve been holding my breath, like my life is on hold,” said Daija. “This kidney means freedom.” Her sister added, “It’s the beginning of a new life.”

What does that new life include?

Both women are avid watchers of television crime shows and want to study criminal justice. Daija wants to become a police officer and Dazhai wants to study child psychology.

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

Mother-daughter bond – It’s a kidney match

It was a routine well child check-up that showed Kelsey Beck needed a new kidney. Both of her parents were tested and her mom was the one doctors believed to be the best match.

Wisdom and experience – they’re two things that Kristin Beck relied on as a mother of a child with kidney disease.

First, she thinks of the lessons learned from her mother, Diane Black who also has kidney disease. Beck was familiar with the symptoms and treatment. She knew when her daughter Kelsey was diagnosed at the age of eight there was no quick fix.

Second, comes the wisdom heightened by a large dose of motherly instinct.

Beck’s pregnancy with Kelsey was normal and at 32 weeks she asked for a precautionary ultrasound. Her first child, Tyler, was born with tracheosophageal fistula (TEF), an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea. Beck and her husband, Clint, wanted to do everything they could to ensure the healthy development of their second child.

Tyler was treated at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, and is now a healthy 13-year-old. The ultrasound during Beck’s second pregnancy showed excess fluid. Monitoring continued until Kelsey arrived on Aug. 13, 2009, a healthy 10-pound baby. When doctors discovered the newborn was breech, a cesarean delivery was scheduled.

Over the years, that same wisdom continued for the Beck’s – keeping a bird’s eye view on their son and daughter to make sure they were raised healthy and happy. Early on when Kelsey showed signs of low muscle tone and delayed speech her parents sought early intervention. And when they noticed visual impairments at the age of six months, they took their daughter to an eye doctor where she was prescribed glasses.

But for most of her early years, Kelsey was described as one of the “happiest babies you’d ever meet.”

As conscientious caregivers, Kelsey’s parents faithfully took her to annual check ups, even when she wasn’t sick. It was one of those well child visits when they discovered Kelsey was a very sick little girl.

“The night before her appointment she was out roller skating in the driveway. She was full of energy and showed no signs of being sick,” said Kristin Beck. But on Sept. 27, 2017, the Beck’s learned that Kelsey’s kidneys were failing. She was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney disease and was rushed to Riley Hospital.

“Her numbers were dangerously low. They gave her a blood transfusion and pumped her full of calcium,” said Beck. When they were in ER, the Beck’s were told that Kelsey would need dialysis. They chose peritoneal dialysis so they could administer it at night and their daughter could have somewhat of a normal routine during the day.

Through genetic testing Beck learned she is a carrier of a mutation – recessive gene -and Kelsey had about a one in four chance of inheriting a kidney disease. The family believes Kelsey’s disease is dissimilar from her grandmother, who was taken off the transplant list when her health improved.

Knowing their daughter was in urgent need of a new kidney, both Kristin and Clint were tested. Doctors believed Kristin’s kidney was more compatible with their 9-year-old daughter.

“We look back now and even though Kelsey was very active there were some signs. She got tired easily, she has some visual impairments, and she bruises easily,” said Beck. “If we hadn’t gone on that routine doctor’s visit, I don’t know where we’d be today.” On the one-year anniversary of Kelsey’s diagnosis the Becks sent flowers to their primary care physician to show their gratitude for saving Kelsey’s life.

But the real life saving came on a recent Thursday – the first day of August, just two weeks before Kelsey’s 10th birthday. After a sleepless night, Kristin was wheeled into the operating room at IU Health University Hospital.

“Are you the angel who is donating your kidney to your daughter?” asked anesthesiologist Dr. Ji Hyun Lee. It was the question that brought tears to Kristin Beck’s eyes.

The last time Beck was admitted to the hospital was Aug. 13, 2009 when she gave birth to that 10-pound baby girl. That same little girl is the one who loves working math problems, attending Kidney Camp each summer, eating cheese popcorn and chocolate and the same little girl who packed her favorite pillow and stuffed animals to bring to the hospital.

“It’s OK to be nervous,” Kelsey told her mom the night before the transplant. “I’m nervous too because it’s my mom.”

While Beck was at University Hospital in the care of transplant surgeons Dr. Andrew Lutz and Dr. John Powelson, Kelsey was in the OR at Riley Hospital under the care of transplant surgeon Dr. William Goggins.

This same little girl has been in the hospital more times than all of her family members combined. Yet on the night before her transplant she wore a t-shirt with the words, “Transplant Tough” and talked about her love of the hospital’s mashed potatoes, playing with her dog “Gunner,” and her new kidney that she’s named “Pee-Tea.” It’s a name she chose because “kidneys make pee and I like iced tea,” she said.

Kelsey’s bravery and candor were as much of a complement to her mom’s wisdom and experience as the kidney that they share.

And while Kelsey was calmly thinking about eating chocolate her mom was already plotting her visit to her daughter’s bedside.

“Parents are supposed to be brave for their kids,” said Beck. “The hardest thing about being her donor is that I won’t be with her through surgery. That’s also the biggest motivator for healing quickly.” Four days after surgery, Kristin Beck made her way to Riley Hospital and to her daughter’s bedside.

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

How one nurse spent a summer weekend

What’s a hard-working nurse do to unwind on a weekend? Sara Richman tried something new – goat yoga.

A little bit unconventional and a lot of fun, goat yoga is an exercise that well, incorporates live goats with a yoga routine. Participants benefit from the relaxation of the exercise and also from the interaction with the free-roaming animals. There’s another bonus too – lots of great photo ops.

And Richman, a nurse at IU Health North, wasn’t the lone participant in her group.

She was host to four college friends – all from different states – who share a common interest. They were all in nursing school together at the University of Cincinnati. Each summer they come together for a sort of mini reunion.

“Goat yoga was a blast,” said Richman, who grew up in Trenton, Ohio and knew in middle school that she wanted to become a nurse. “I became a candy striper and through volunteering at the hospital I received a scholarship that paved the way to nursing school,” said Richman.

She and her husband, Zac, moved to Indiana in 2008 and she first worked as a traveling pulmonary care nurse for Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. She then worked as the cystic fibrosis nurse coordinator at Riley for five years before switching to IU Health North Hospital. At North she is the allergy nurse coordinator working in Riley pulmonary, allergy and sleep medicine.

“I love working with pediatric patients in the outpatient setting. I love providing allergy and asthma education to our families. I love being their advocates and seeing them return to clinic feeling more comfortable,” said Richman who has a five-year-old daughter. As a mom, Richman makes it her goal to make her patients laugh and smile by telling them bad jokes.

She also loves her co-workers.

“We are so supportive of each other and know how to have a good laugh,” said Richman. And like her co-workers at IU Health, her nursing school friends are a big part of her network. Their weekend included limited nursing talk but lots of rest and relaxation. “My nursing friends are my best friends. We truly have a special bond that is the most caring, honest, and non-judgmental kind of friendship you could only dream about. We are so blessed to have each other.”

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

Pharmacy techs begin careers with mentors

Career goals came full circle in the pharmacy department of IU Health West. Eleven members of the class of 2019 at Ben Davis High School (and one from Avon High School) all received a little extra help in their health careers course. And thanks to the pharmacy techs at IU Health those students are pursuing careers – just two months after high school graduation.

Specifically, the students – all enrolled in a pharmacy tech certification course through Area 31 Career Center received assistance paying and studying for their certification – assistance provided by other IU Health pharmacy techs.

“We all have had people who have invested in our careers and we wanted to give back to these students in our neighborhood are community,” said Amy Hurst, pharmacy tech supervisor at IU Health West. “We felt like if we brought them under our wing then we could build close connections and hopefully build our team,” said Hurst, adding that there is a shortage of qualified pharmacy techs. She believes some people are unaware of the profession and don’t realize that pharmacy techs work both in retail positions and in hospitals.

At the end of the two-year training, two pharmacists applied for and were hired by IU Health. Those two technicians are Ashley Stoller and Sydney McKeen.

“I couldn’t figure out what I was interested in after high school and I went to a job fair and learned about the pharmacy tech program,” said McKeen, a former high school athlete who participated in in soccer, softball, track and cross country. In her role with IU Health she is responsible for sterile compounding, medical kit processing, delivery and restocking of medications on the hospital floors, and record keeping. She has also had special training in the handling of narcotics.

“The best part of job is that all the information is new in the hospital setting so I’m in a learning curve,” said McKeen. “I like what I’m doing and I hope I can keep learning. Some day I’d like to become a pharmacist.”

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

Busy mom of four works as LifeLine critical care transport nurse

She’s a former ER nurse who always wanted to work as a flight nurse. Sarah Graham says the profession is a good mix of critical care thinking and skills.

Sarah Graham always knew she wanted to work in healthcare. She started out in college working toward a degree in physical therapy. But when she landed a job as a hospital tech her career path switched toward nursing.

And just like landing the job in the hospital, Graham has spent time landing at the scene of some of the most challenging emergencies. A year ago she began working for IU Health LifeLine as a critical care transport nurse with the adult and pediatric critical care team.

Working from the Lafayette base Graham’s day begins at 5 p.m. driving the 45-minute commute from her Indianapolis home. Once at the base, she joins her partner in checking equipment and reviewing reports from the previous shift. And then she waits for a call.

“We’re like a family. Sometimes we eat a meal together, sometimes we spend a lot of time talking about our own families,” said Graham. As the mother of four, including a daughter, 12, son, 11, and twins, 9 she is comfortable working in that homey atmosphere.

“I always wanted to be a flight nurse but I was raising small people and continued to have more small people so I worked part time for 10 years with the focus of raising my kids. Gradually with additional education under my belt, the time was right and the staff here is so supportive,” said Graham.

For 10 years she worked as an ER nurse and also worked in ICU. LifeLine nursing is a good combination of both ER and ICU, she said.

“I really enjoy the complexity of the patients and working to come up with the best care. Having to work through multiple issues and then see progress is what challenges me. With trauma you could say I’m helping people on their worst day and I like that,” said Graham.

She relates one story that stays with her. It was winter and her crew was dispatched to northern Indiana. Due to high winds, it was decided that they would drive rather than fly the two hours. As they drove closer to the sending hospital for transport, Graham and her partner began discussing the severity of the patient. And once they got to the patient’s bedside they realized a helicopter was needed to expedite transportation.

“We met the helicopter at the roadside and the thing I remember the most was how we collaborated with the nurses about the strategy for transport – the patient’s ventilator and medication – and that made all the difference in the outcome,” said Graham. “It really showed a team effort. It’s a job that has you thinking on your feet. You have to talk to your partner and your team, work through scenarios and draw on experience.”

Graham also works through a lot of scenarios at home. With four children, she keeps a color-coded planner to stay on task and relies a lot of on the support of friends and family.

“I’ve always been married to my calendar and I try to prioritize just like in my medical profession – who needs to be where and when.”

More about Graham:

  • What might surprise people: She was a Girl Scout for 12 years.
  • Her friend groups at North Central High School: “I had two groups of friends. One were my soccer teammates and then I had a group of friends from my Girl Scout troop and people involved in extracurricular activities outside or school.”
  • How she stays fit: She has participated in Cross Fit for nine years, coaching and competing in Cross Fit games and also teaching Cross Fit youth classes.

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

It was the visit no parent wants to get: Multiple surgeries later, son is ‘Jordan Strong’

Jordan Shehan says he “practically moved into Methodist Hospital” after a middle-of-the-night accident resulted in serious injuries. He recently returned for one of several surgeries to help in his recovery.

It was just after 2 a.m. on a Wednesday in September. The last thing Sarah Bartlett knew was her son was working his shift as a bartender and server at Applebee’s Restaurant.

They lived in the small community of Hope, Ind. 15 minutes northeast of Columbus. It’s a town that hosts farmer’s markets and concerts on the town square. What could possibly happen that could change the life of Bartlett and her son Jordan Shehan?

Sarah’s husband, Craig Bartlett answered that middle-of-the-night knock on the door. There was a Bartholomew County Sheriff’s officer standing in front of him.

“He asked if I knew Jordan Shehan and if he lived here. Then he told me that Jordan had been involved in a serious accident,” said Craig Bartlett. “

Sheriff’s reports indicate the accident was discovered at 2:08 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2018. Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Adam Warner was on patrol when he found Shehan. Reports indicate his Ford Crown Victoria ran off the road, and struck several mailboxes and a utility pole before coming to rest in the front yard of a residence.

“It’s all a blur,” said Shehan’s mom. “Everything happened so fast but yet seemed so slow. There’s a lot I don’t remember.”

There’s also a lot Jordan doesn’t remember. He’s spent the past year fitting together the pieces of the puzzle that forever changed his life. He’s also spent more days than he can count at IU Health – both in Methodist Hospital and University Hospital.

He was transported by IU Health LifeLine helicopter to Methodist Hospital where he spent 60 days in ICU – he was in a coma more than 20 of those days.

“I used to be a sheriff reserve. I had heard he coded on the helicopter and they brought him back. He’s a walking miracle,” said Craig Bartlett. As soon as he heard the words “serious accident” he woke up Shehan’s mom and they called his dad, Dave Shehan. They drove straight to Methodist where they found Shehan getting prepped for surgery.

The multi-sport athlete, who wrestled heavy weight and served as a linebacker at Columbus North High School, was described as a “rag doll” thrown around in the driver’s seat of his car.

His earliest memories of the accident were more like a dream. He was trapped in a restaurant and couldn’t escape. As the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, Shehan says he remembers leaving work at around midnight.

“There were four or five of us who stopped at the Cozy – a bar just 15 minutes from my house. I had worked a double on the Monday and closed on Tuesday. We split a couple pitchers of beer and I think the combination of being tired and the beer caused me to fall asleep at the wheel,” said Shehan, 25. “They gave me a blood alcohol test and I passed. But the worst of it was that I was not wearing my seatbelt. Some people said I could have been killed.”

Like the details of the accident, Shehan’s injuries were what his mother called a “jigsaw puzzle.” He suffered cracked ribs, a punctured lung, and fractured vertebrae in his neck. “Everything from his neck to cranium was shatter,” said Sarah Bartlett.

Multiple surgeries followed. A recent facial surgery at IU Health University Hospital was to repair his bottom jaw. He has difficulty smelling or tasting, has double vision and no peripheral vision. He still faces about half a dozen surgeries to correct his right eye socket, his right eardrum and other facial reconstruction.

While some think he is a “walking miracle,” Shehan, who is the older sibling to Hunter, younger sibling to Isaac and Brandy and father of a son, 10, and daughter, 6, says he is blessed.

Perfectly implanted on his right leg is a scar in the shape of a “J.” It could have been a coincidence and could represent the first letter of his first name. But he believes it represents something else.

“People say I’m lucky and I say ‘No, Jesus saved my life,” said Shehan. His mom also believes it took something amazing to keep her son alive. “God had to be there the whole time. There are too many things that have happened to get him this far,” said Sarah Bartlett. She says those “things” began at the scene of the accident where first responders came from the Columbus Police Department, local EMS, Columbus Township Fire Department, Clay Township Fire Department, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and IU Health LifeLine.

“He’s a big guy and someone at the scene was able to give him a small tract that kept him going until he could get to the hospital for a regular size trach. That may have saved his life,” said Bartlett. And then there’s been the support of the community – including his crew at Applebee’s – selling “Jordan Strong” shirts and bands and organizing fundraisers.

Before the accident Shehan says he fell out of church. While he was in a coma a pastor from his hometown came to visit him when he got off work at Eli Lilly.

“When I got out of the hospital I felt it was respectable for me to attend his church and I fell in love with the church,” said Shehan. He volunteers his time to work with youth ages 12-18 and is set on getting his message out about wearing a seatbelt and not taking unnecessary risks.

“I’ve worked since I was 14 and in one night everything changed,” said Shehan. “I’ve put my parents and a lot of other people through so much and I want to get back on my feet again and give back.”

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

Patient loves tie-dye, rock music and tattoos

Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, (AML) Walkerton, Ind. resident Kylee Rininger relies on the nurses and caregivers at IU Health University Hospital to keep her going.

She should be attending rock concerts this summer with her friends or cheering for her 8-year-old son as he races across the basketball court. But instead, Kylee Rininger, 29, is undergoing treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

A rapidly progressing cancer AML starts in the bone marrow and moves into the blood. It can spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and central nervous system.

A 2008 graduate of James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Ind. Rininger has loved music most of her life. She performed with her high school choir and attends concerts whenever she can.

“Lately, I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything,” said Rininger, a patient of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Sherif S. Farag. “I’d love to be able to go to some concerts with friends – especially old rock.”

She enjoys Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, Korn and Rob Zombie. One of her favorite concerts was Rock on the Stage, an annual two-day festival held in Columbus, Ohio each May that draws a crowd of 40,000 a day. Over the years, the festival has brought together more than 50 bands including such historic favorites as ZZ Top, Kid Rock, 3 Doors Down, Motley Crue, The Smashing Pumpkins, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Rininger loves talking about music and she loves talking about the staff on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at IU Health University Hospital. When a friend recently created tie-dyed t-shirts for “Kylee Strong” all the nurses and caregivers purchased one and wore it proudly in support of Rininger.

It was January of 2018 and Rininger was working in housekeeping at Swan Lake Golf Resort in Plymouth when she became nauseous. She grew tired, her gums began to swell and she lacked coloring. Her boss suggested she go to ER.

“There was no oxygen in my blood. I was full of cancer. They drew labs and right away they could tell,” said Rininger. “I picked up my mom and they told us in ER that I had leukemia. I was shocked. She started chemotherapy the next day at a hospital closer to her Walkerton, Ind. home. In June of 2018, under the care of IU Health hematologist Dr. Sherif Farag Rininger received her first stem cell transplant.

“I was in recovery and doing really well and then in November I got a kidney stone. I thought I was dying. They checked my labs and they were all good and then three weeks later I relapsed, said Rininger. “I knew it because my symptoms came back.”

In March she received a second stem cell transplant, donated by her brother Jessy Pittman. “Since then I’ve been dealing with a lot of side effects of medication and we’re just trying to get things under control so I can go back home and be a mom,” said Rininger. “I am so thankful for the nurses here and my mom Carman Pittman, my brother, and a bunch friends who have pulled me through.”

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

IU Health Foundation Grants to Benefit West Central Indiana

Thirteen projects will be funded at IU Health White Memorial, IU Health Arnett and IU Health Frankfort hospitals after being awarded grants by the IU Health Foundation.

IU Health White Memorial Hospital was awarded seven grants from the hospital’s Area of Greatest Need fund, including projects submitted by clinical staff to solve problems they see in their daily work:

  • $14,985 for a LUCAS chest compression device for the Emergency Department, to help resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest.
  • $9,290 for radios and microphones staff can use during emergency management situations and daily security communications.
  • $6,610 for a heated cabinet to keep food at safe temperatures before it is served to patients.
  • $4,000 for IV poles on wheels in the medical surgical department, so patients can increase their mobility.
  • $2,917 for a bigger MRI-compatible wheelchair to improve the comfort and accessibility of patients undergoing MRIs, especially older patients; the new chair will accommodate 95% of patients.
  • $2,589 for a drug take back box, which allows the hospital to safely receive and dispose of unused medications, protecting community members from drug misuse.
  • $480 for food and drinks to comfort patients’ families.

IU Health Arnett Hospital received funding for five projects, three from the Area of Greatest Need fund and one each from the Arnett Education Fund and Community Initiatives Fund:

  • $23,425 for a Nursing Anne Simulator, a lifelike mannequin used in preparing clinical staff for high-risk situations.
  • $12,600 to implement a tobacco cessation program focused on aiding patients who have identified their readiness to quit; 95% of smokers who try to quit on their own fail.
  • $12,000 for creating a comfortable, homey environment in the IU Health Arnett Center of Hope, a program dedicated to caring for victims of violence.
  • $5,655 for outpatient rehab equipment including iPads loaded with therapy apps, board games, and articulation cards for speech therapy.
  • $1,840 for two sets of CPR simulators, mannequins and other training equipment to run monthly drills across six departments.

IU Health Frankfort Hospital was awarded a grant from the hospital’s Area of Greatest Need fund:

  • $9,085 will be used to pilot a smoking cessation program and support groups for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other area residents with respiratory-related illnesses. About 20 percent of patients in the west central region who were hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year were readmitted within 30 days because they continued to use tobacco products.

To learn more about how philanthropy supports the IU Health goal of making Hoosiers healthier, visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

IU Health Foundation Grants $146,000 to Help Cancer Patients with Legal Issues

Caring for patients at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center will now include help with their legal needs, thanks to a $146,000 grant from the IU Health Foundation.

The grant will enable the cancer center to establish a legal triage clinic to address patients’ needs for making end-of-life decisions, establishing living wills, accessing benefits, arranging custody of minor children and estate planning, among many other concerns.

The clinic will be staffed by a paralegal who will be available for patients undergoing cancer treatments. The paralegal will perform intake assessments of legal needs, determine cases in need of action from attorneys, and coordinate on-site, pro bono legal services at Simon Cancer Center and other facilities. IU Health social workers and members of the local legal community will also be part of the clinic’s team.

The people who secured this grant include Ryan Rhome, MD, radiation oncologist, who was project lead; Sara Grethlein, MD, medical oncologist and medical director of the IU Health Joe and Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center at IU North Hospital; Jay Chaudhary, JD, Indiana Legal Services; Katherine Wood, JD, Indiana Legal Services; and Lindsay Proctor, program director of Medical Staff Affairs at IU Health.

To support innovative ideas like the legal clinic or to learn how your gift can help people with cancer, visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

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