Merriman Award Honors Team Members Statewide

Five IU Health team members around the state have won 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, and its winners are nominated by their peers at IU Health hospitals statewide.

The winners are:

Bridget Jeffries is team lead of Individual Solutions, meaning she works with uninsured or underinsured patients from her office near IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. For most people, this job would be frustrating—but not for Jeffries, according to her nominator, Paul Davis, Revenue Cycle Services (RCS) program manager.

“Bridget goes above and beyond daily to make sure patients are able to receive the great care afforded by IU Health without the worry of a heavy financial burden,” he said. “She also handles medical escalations for uninsured patients and ensures we are caring for the physical and financial health of this vulnerable population.” Other nominators noted her ability to sustain relationships with state agencies that administer Medicaid programs, and her willingness to take calls to solve problems whenever she is needed—even outside normal office hours.

Larryetta Morris, a rehabilitation technician at IU Health Methodist Hospital, works on the wound care team. Her nomination included several examples of going above and beyond for patients, including buying a special lunch for a patient who had lost her appetite, enlisting a team member’s help to repair a patient’s wheelchair, and saying at the end of every patient interaction, “Thank you for letting us take care of you.”

Morris was nominated by Kate O’Halloran, PT, her co-worker on the wound team. She said, “Etta is called in to assist with those patients who require extra help because of the size and extent of their wound(s) and/or the patient’s immobility. She sets her own needs aside, works as a great team member, and doesn’t stop until she has done everything possible to provide the best possible experience for the patient.”

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 example. 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, the patient asked for Snyder. Snyder continues to return to IU Health Saxony 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.

Payne says Butler emphasizes continuing education for herself and her colleagues, and guides 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 kind 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. 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, and volunteers at numerous seniors-serving events.

You can honor excellent IU Health caregivers by supporting the IU Health Foundation.