IU Health Foundation grants $126,000 to benefit patients in Carmel, Tipton, Fishers and Avon

The IU Health Foundation announced the funding of 13 projects in Indianapolis suburbs totaling $126,000. The grants were made with $80,000 from the Foundation’s new regional grants program and $46,000 from donors who have given to Area of Greatest Need funds.

“Regional grants empower IU Health team members to improve the health of individuals, communities and our state,” said Crystal Hinson Miller, IU Health Foundation president and IU Health chief philanthropy officer. “This regional grants program is a new opportunity for our Indianapolis Suburban Region to leverage the power of philanthropy, and honors donors’ intentions by ensuring that dollars contributed locally fund local needs.”

The awarded grants are:

  • $31,500 for a maternal/newborn simulator that will be used to train first responders, nurses and other team members in how to recognize and respond to complications during childbirth that can lead to mother or child deaths. This is in response to Indiana having one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the U.S.
  • $20,000 for state-of-the-art equipment used to do compressions during resuscitation at IU Health Saxony Hospital.
  • $15,000 to create additional programming to support and encourage team members’ self-care and well-being.
  • $10,000 for labor and delivery room training plus tools, including birthing stools, aromatherapy and speakers, to decrease the overall rate of cesarean deliveries at IU Health West Hospital.
  • $10,000 to train and certify therapists in pelvic floor therapy, a growing type of therapy that helps with bowel and bladder issues, which have increased due to the aging population.
  • $8,700 for equipment at IU Health Tipton Hospital to support speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy for patient rehabilitation. The equipment will support the team’s work in assisting patients after strokes, with wound care, vestibular therapy and general rehabilitation.
  • $8,500 for virtual reality headsets that patients can use during infusion treatments and oncology appointments at the IU Health Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center. Patients receiving chemotherapy must often sit from three to six hours, which can cause them to become anxious, bored, agitated and withdrawn. Virtual reality allows patients to be “transported” to more soothing settings.
  • $8,000 for team members to participate in the Resilience in Stressful Events (RISE) training, which teaches how to provide peer-to-peer support for staff involved in adverse patient events, stressful situations or patient-related injuries. The program will launch at IU Health North Hospital.
  • $5,000 for training and aromatherapy materials at IU Health West Hospital to help manage team members’ stress levels so they can provide more focused patient care.
  • $3,600 to build a concrete sidewalk connecting IU Health Tipton Hospital with a community walking path, improving access to the hospital and giving everyone more room to exercise.
  • $2,600 to pilot a food pantry for team members at IU Health West Hospital.
  • $2,050 for iPads at IU Health Tipton Hospital to be used by patients working to reduce their tobacco use. The iPads will allow patients to review educational materials at their own pace and allow rehab staff to know whether materials have been reviewed.
  • $1,050 for iPads in the cancer and infusion services department at IU Health Tipton Hospital. They will be used by patients to review educational materials and will allow staff to track what information patients have seen. In addition, patients can use the iPads to distract themselves during tedious treatment.

For information about how philanthropy supports suburban Indianapolis communities, contact Heather Perdue at hperdue@iuhealth.org or visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

$1.25M grant funds renovations at Methodist and University

The Indiana University Health Foundation announces a grant of $1,251,775 to fund renovations throughout the IU Health adult Academic Health Center (AHC). The grant will fund the modernization of public spaces while piloting patient-centric design concepts that may be used in the AHC project.

The funds will be used to renovate both the surgery outpatient waiting room and the primary care clinic waiting room at IU Health University Hospital, as well as the critical care waiting rooms at IU Health Methodist Hospital. The locations were determined by team member and patient feedback.

While the renovation designs have yet to be finalized, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that sets the tone for compassionate care, enhances comfort for patients and families, and ultimately, improves patient wellness. Construction will begin no later than this summer.

The downtown campus joins other IU Health locations statewide in benefiting from the new regional grants program, which was introduced last year by the IU Health Foundation. This program supports health projects statewide while ensuring that dollars contributed locally fund local needs.

For information about how philanthropy supports the AHC, contact Nick Oyler, IU Health Foundation chief development officer at noyler2@iuhealth.org or visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

Northern Indiana woman pioneers groundbreaking procedure for emphysema

Marie Weiss suffered with emphysema for 15 years. And then she learned about a new procedure performed by IU Health pulmonologist Dr. Robert Weller.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Eight months ago Marie Weiss walked into IU Health Methodist Hospital supported by a walker – an oxygen tank in tow. It was something she had grown accustomed to after an emphysema diagnosis 15 years ago.

Last week she re-entered the hospital without the support of a walker or oxygen – a big smile on her face and new hope for her future. She is the first patient at IU Health to receive a non-evasive procedure known as endobronchial valve treatment.

Emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive disease (COPD) causes the alveolar space in the lung to lose elasticity and enlargement. The result is patients suffer breathlessness and fatigue which typically means they are less active.

“We could never make a reservation or an appointment ahead of time because we never knew how she’d feel. Sometimes we’d get to that date and she wouldn’t feel like going out. It was very confining,” said Dan Weiss, her husband of 22 years.

Marie Weiss began smoking at the age of 14 and continued until the age of 50. She said that, along with her work in a smoke-filled office at a steel factory attributed to her ill health. She was diagnosed with emphysema in her 40s.

“I was sick a lot and constantly on antibiotics and Prednisone at least twice a month. I was staying out of the hospital because I was proactive but everything was difficult – even daily care,” said Weiss. It was when she went to another hospital inquiring about lung reduction surgery that she learned about Dr. Robert Weller and the endobronchial valve treatment – a less invasive procedure than lung volume reduction surgery.

In lung volume reduction surgery a patient’s chest is cut open to remove the diseased portion of the lung. Endobronchial valves replicate the effects of that procedure without requiring incisions, by allowing the most diseased portions of the lung to collapse. In June 2018 the FDA approved the valve procedure as the first bronchoscopic treatment for emphysema in the United States. The actual valve looks like a small earring and is about the size of a dime.

Weiss underwent the procedure in July, under the care of Dr. Weller. He is one of five pulmonologists at IU Health Physicians who perform the procedure. Others in his group include Dr. Damien Patel, Dr. Aliya Noor, Dr. Francis Sheski, and Dr. Christopher M. Kniese.

The procedure isn’t for everyone.

Weiss underwent pretesting that included a 6-minute walk and thin section CT scanning to determine pulmonary functioning and anatomy of the lobes for exact valve placement.

“The upfront testing is a refined selection process to analyze the fissure between the upper and lower lung to determine who makes a good candidate,” said Dr. Weller. “We turn down roughly four candidates a year.” Weiss is one of the success stories.

“It’s very gratifying to see her now,” said Weller. “We went into medicine to help people and the reality is some we can and some we can’t. With emphysema we got used to the fact that gains would be marginal, not dramatic with the exception of lung transplant. This is not a cure but it’s a procedure to make life easier.”

Since her procedure Weiss has felt better than she has in years. She keeps an oxygen tank close by when she heads to the grocery store or on appointments but it’s what her husband now calls a “security blanket” rather than a lifeline. She continues with pulmonary rehabilitation to strengthen her lungs and will have regular check ups.

Her two children and grandchildren live hours away from her Munster home and until now Weiss hesitated to travel.

“This isn’t about vacations or trips; this is about family. Now I feel comfortable traveling and I’m not afraid. Dr. Weller has helped me with that confidence. He is very careful and conscientious,” said Weiss. “It’s been great for her to have the freedom – not being tied to a 50-foot plastic tube to breathe,” added her husband.

What are the chances? Father-son same rare cancer more than two decades apart

There are fewer than 20,000 cases in the United States each year, but this father and son were both diagnosed with testicular cancer.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

The way Daniel Gabriel “Gabe” Ganser sees it he can thank his dad.

“Dad always said, ‘if you ever have a problem, check it out.’ I’ve always been on top of it because of my dad,” said Ganser, 23. So when he felt pain in his testicle, he called his parents George and Stephanie Ganser.

It was 1995 when George Ganser was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was treated with radiation at IU Health and has been cancer free ever since. Gabe is the first child born after George Ganser’s treatment. The couple is also the parents to Samantha, 27 and Louis, 29. Mary, 20, was also born after George Ganser’s diagnosis.

“I was told I probably wouldn’t have any more children after my treatment. That’s how he got his middle name ‘Gabriel,’” said George Ganser. What are the odds the father and son would both be diagnosed with testicular cancer? Slim. The American Cancer Society estimates about 9,610 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2020. The average age at diagnosis is about 33 but about six percent of the cases can occur in teens and young men. More than 90 percent of the cases of testicular cancer start as germ cell tumors.

Gabe Ganser came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center where he is in the care of 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 incidence of testis cancer is one in 400 American men and thus it is by definition, a rare cancer. However, since it is a young man’s disease, it is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 35,” said Dr. Einhorn. “If you have a first degree relative (brother or father) with testis cancer, your chance of testis cancer significantly increases, but still only one in 300.”

It was September 6 when Gabe Ganser was diagnosed. Five days later he underwent an orchiectomy. He began chemotherapy in early December.

“I have my ups and downs – some nausea and fatigue but overall I’m doing pretty good,” said Ganser, a senior communications major at the University of Dayton. He hopes to return to campus this semester and graduate with his peers in May.

One of the biggest adjustments has been learning to slow down.

A 2016 graduate of St. Theodore Guerin High School – where he won the “St. Augustine Medal” for volunteerism – Ganser is known for his school and community involvement. In high school he played football and golf, was president of the Catholic Life Committee and a founding member of Eagles’ Wings. The club focuses on providing service to those in need such as meals, homemade blankets or spiritual jars for the sick. Club members have shown up at funerals to provide emotional support to family. In college Ganser helped lead a Catholic retreat for youth, served as a seventh grade basketball coach, a campus RA and University fellow, and a church Eucharist minister and reader.

The idea of service is something Ganser learned early in life from his parents. “It’s overwhelming seeing it come full circle in what others are doing to support us,” said Ganser.

It’s also a little overwhelming for his family to again return to IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

“When we moved from South Bend in 1990 we knew we wouldn’t be close to the lakes in Michigan but if we ever got sick, we’d be close to a great hospital. I was treated here, three of our children were born at IU Health, and now we’re back,” said George Ganser.

“I think I’m blessed to have Dr. Einhorn as a doctor,” said Gabe. “He’s deliberate with his wording and confident that I’ll be cured and healed from this disease. He’s made me feel that confidence since the first time I talked to him.”

Mother-daughter fight breast cancer together

They tested negative for an inherited case of breast cancer but this mother and daughter were both diagnosed within months of each other.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

One of the first questions people want to know: “Is this genetic?” The answer for Tara Haisley and Bette Jarvis is “No.”

It was just something that happened. They were both diagnosed with breast cancer within four months of each other. Both were diagnosed through a mammogram at IU Health.

It was August 2019 when Tara learned the results of her annual mammogram. The first spot was on her left side; a second spot was later discovered on her right side. Under the care of Dr. Carla Fisher she underwent three surgeries to remove the masses and growth in the lymph nodes. Radiation followed. She remains in the care of hematologist/oncologist Dr. Erin Newton.

Jarvis was diagnosed in November and underwent surgery to remove the lump and infected lymph nodes. Four weeks of radiation followed and she was given an “all clear.”

After a recent check up, Haisley entered the waiting room at IU Health Simon Cancer Center greeted by her mom, father, stepmom and cousin. She offered a “thumbs up” that was followed by hugs of joy. Haisley turned 50 this month and says this is the best gift of all.

The mother and daughter live together in their Jonesboro home. Haisley is Jarvis’ only daughter.

“This has brought us so much closer. We’ve worked off each other’s strength,” said Jarvis. They enjoy gardening together and camping. When they were going through treatment, sometimes that camping meant a “stay-cation.” They pitched a tent in their back yard, slept on an air mattress and cooked over a fire pit.

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 10

New IU Health Methodist Hospital nurse Rachel Ketelaar gains confidence in her patient care in her 10th week.


  • I am feeling more and more confident each and every day. Ty has been gone for appointments and meetings, leaving me on my own for a few hours. I felt pretty good about how I handled myself and cared for our 5 patients.

Wednesday and Thursday

  • Back in class again, for advanced cardiac life support trainings. Lots of watching videos and listening to lectures on Wednesday. On Thursday we put the learnings into practice. We ran patient codes, figured out what was going on with the patients and how to treat them. Still nervous that I’m going to forget all that I’ve learned when under pressure. But I know I have studied well and am prepared for this class!
  • I didn’t really do anything “new” this week but I am still learning so much each and every day. I’m so glad I chose to be a nurse — it is definitely the profession for me! And this week I scheduled my work hours for the next two months, when I’ll be on my own without a preceptor. This is exciting, partly because I get to choose the days I want to work!
Since I usually pack a lunch, I don’t use the hospital cafeteria much. I found this solarium room for lunching that I like. It offers a great view of the city and lots of light.

Read more:

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 1
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 2
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 3
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 4
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 5
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 6
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 7
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 8
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 9
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 10

Apply Yourself – Being a nurse at Indiana University Health means building a professional nursing career designed by you, with competitive benefits and a culture that embraces your unique strengths and supports your personal and professional goals. If you are seeking an organization where you can engage professionally, develop clinical expertise, embrace learning, foster new relationships and fuel your spirit of inquiry, apply today.

He wants to be known as ‘the 40-year-old guy who crushed pancreatic cancer”

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Chad Handley knew he was in for a fight. When he heard the words “five years to live,” he came up swinging.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

His wife Jen was by his side. He calls her “his rock.” She smiled through tears as Chad Handley recently rang the bell at IU Health Simon Cancer Center signaling the end of his chemotherapy. On a chalkboard he wrote the words, “Much Love.”

There were a million other messages he could have written but this was one that he hopes transcends all things related to cancer.

“Cancer is here. It’s not going anywhere so I chose to stick with ‘much love,’” said Handley. After experiencing chest pain in June, Handley made an appointment with his family physician. Through additional tests, a mass was discovered on the head of his pancreas. Handley’s diagnosis was pancreatic cancer and he was initially given five years to live.

Through a friend, Handley discovered IU Health Dr. Max Schmidt and on July 1 he underwent a Pancreaticoduodenectomy (commonly called a “Whipple procedure”). The surgery involved removing the head of his pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct and a portion of his small intestine. After surgery he began seeing oncologist Dr. Patrick Loehrer and started chemotherapy on August 12.

The night before his last treatment he wrote: “Tomorrow ends another round of my battle with Pancreatic cancer. I’ve learned a lot about life, myself, my family, and how beautiful our lives are. When I was diagnosed June 10th, I was scared, mad, and scrambling about how to fight this. I felt like I was living each day as a battle – one day at a time, not knowing what the next day might bring.”

There were setbacks along the way, but still he persevered.

“With the unwavering support of my wife, my kids, my family, my business partners, my hometown friends, my college friends, parents of my kids’ friends, and a ton more people who I’ve met through my life, we lowered our heads and we battled through,” wrote Handley.

Throughout treatment Handley pushed himself physically – first taking mile-long walks with regular workouts and then increasing the distance and intensity of exercise. He maintained a strict diet and focused on life in two-week journeys: Chemotherapy on Monday followed by midweek works outs and coaching his kids Quinn, 11, and Darby, 9.

“I’d cry, sweat, work and build myself up for the next treatment. My mom, sister, aunts, uncles and numerous others were there to make sure I never faltered. I had in my head on my kids and that they would never see me sick,” he wrote. Each time he set a goal, he crushed it and added more. It was something he had control over and something he knew would strengthen him as he kept his eye on recovery.

In December he and his family traveled to Arizona where he tackled a five-mile hike and climbed the scenic Devils Bridge trail in Sedona.

With his chemotherapy complete, Handley said: “I 100 percent know this battle is not over but I do believe I have dominated the first couple of rounds and I have no plans of slowing down. IU Health Simon Cancer Center, Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Loehrer, physician assistant Natasha Porter, and all the nurses mean the world to us. My life is now turning to three-month scans and we will attack each one as we have attacked these treatments. I want to be known as the 40-year-old guy who crushes pancreatic cancer.”

Medical assistant’s message to her kids: “Don’t give up on your goals.”

Medical Assistant Jess Polley is working toward completing a dream she had years ago – she wants to be a nurse.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Her co-workers say it like this: “She is working her tail off to become a nurse.”

Last year Jess Polley, 33, joined IU Health as a medical assistant working with breast and gynecological cancer patients at University Hospital. She first became a medical assistant in 2010 and had aspirations of going on to nursing school.

“I got pregnant and had a Riley baby so I couldn’t take the time off to go back to school,” said Polley. She and her husband Jerry have a blended family of four children ages, 13, 12, 8 and 6. Once her children became a little older, she decided to pursue that dream. She was accepted into nursing school last May and is taking advantage of IU Health’s tuition benefits program.

“I always wanted to be a nurse but I was knee deep with kids and took another path. Now I’m knee deep in nursing and hoping to show my kids that you don’t give up on your goals,” said Polley, who has just over a year remaining until she completes her bachelor’s degree.

Why nursing?

“I love taking care of people. I love my patients’ stories and being an active part of their medical care. It’s such a reward to care for people even in their last days,” said Polley. “I think I have the ability to make everybody feel special from the time I get them until the time they leave. I can make new connections with first time patients and I can catch up with returning patients.”

More about Polley:

  • Advice to other moms considering returning to school: “It will be work but in the end it will be worth it. When you work full-time and go to school full-time make sure you have a good support network. I couldn’t do this without my husband and parents and my co-workers are amazing. They are always sending me encouraging text messages and asking what I’ve learned.”
  • Running is her passion. She is currently training for her eleventh half marathon and hoping to earn her Spartan Trifecta medal this year. She also works part-time at the Baxter YMCA teaching kick boxing classes.

Coming from around the world to help at home

Working tirelessly behind-the-scenes is a group of IU Health team members who have a special skill – making the hospital feel like home away from home.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She came here from the Ivory Coast 16 years ago and began working at IU Health a few years later. Oumou Komara, married with two teen-age daughters is one of several members of the IU Health housekeeping staff who understand what it’s like to be away from home.

“This was my first job. I’ve met amazing people who have helped me improve my English and settle into the country I now call home,” said Komara. “I like being around the patients and I like to make them feel comfortable.” She is assigned to 3 South at IU Health University Hospital.

Deb Klahn, Training Manager for Environmental Services (EVS) at IU Health says there are 400 EVS employees at the downtown hospitals. She estimates about 80 are from different countries including Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Poland and Taiwan.

In the EVS offices a large map hangs on the wall and team members add a pin to show their country of origin.

“We’re such a diverse group that our plan was to give team members a chance to talk about their countries,” said Carla Thomson, a department manager.

Team members go through extensive training in areas including chemical safety, infection prevention, and ergonomics. The training can last from two weeks to 30 days with employees working with a preceptor to gain hands-on training. They also learn about personal protection when handling bio-hazardous wastes.

“We tell people that we save lives every day. You don’t have to be clinical to have a hand in patient care,” said Michael Bigelow, also a manager.

Housekeeping is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting all the rooms after patients are discharged, and then maintaining that standard of cleanliness during a patient’s stay. Some housekeeping staff members also run UVC lights – to check for germs – especially in isolation rooms. They also clean shared areas of the hospitals and the nurse stations.

“Every day I come here and I am thankful that I have a job that I like and nice people to work with,” said Komara.

IU Health grants more than $900,000 to community organizations

Twenty-four local organizations are benefiting from grants awarded by IU Health. In 2019, IU Health Community Outreach and Engagement awarded more than $900,000 to community organizations and institutions which—like IU Health—are addressing the health needs of the community. These needs include access to affordable healthcare, behavioral health and substance abuse, healthy weight and nutrition and social determinants of health.

“We are honored to support so many amazing organizations throughout our community that are working to make Indiana a healthier state,” says Kevin Armstrong, executive vice president and chief of staff at IU Health. “It takes reaching outside of our hospital walls to make a difference in the overall health of our Hoosiers and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

Here are several organizations that are using grant dollars to improve the health of our communities:

Access to Affordable Healthcare:

  • Covering Kids and Families received $25,000 to assist in increasing health insurance enrollment and retention.
  • LifeSmart Youth received $50,000 toward a new initiative called Tween Education & Access to Community Health (TEACH), which aims to help advance racial health equity and access to care by providing culturally-relevant, medically-accurate reproductive health education to 4,000 Black and Latina youth ages 8 – 12 (grades 4 – 7) in Marion County schools and summer camps.

Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse:

  • Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana’s (VOAOHIN) Fresh Start Recovery Center received a $75,000 grant to provide residential addiction treatment to pregnant women and mothers. It also allows up to two children ages 5 and under to live with their mother while they receive services.
  • Goodwill Foundation of Central and Southern Indiana
    received $75,000 to help Goodwill Education Initiatives (GEI) Resilience Initiative support resilience work across 15 Excel Center locations by leveraging groundbreaking research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to reorganize itself—and to train staff and students on enhancing their resilience and mitigating the effects of trauma.
  • Additional grant winners:
    • Reach for Youth
    • Lutheran Foundation
    • Indy Public Safety Foundation

Healthy Weight and Nutrition:

  • United Way of Central Indiana, Inc.’s initiative Jump IN for Healthy Kids received a $50,000 grant to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with a specific focus on implementing strategies that create healthy places, healthy neighborhoods, and healthy communities in Marion County.
  • Playworks, a national non-profit organization that partners with Indianapolis schools and youth organizations to help them leverage play for positive outcomes, received a $22,500 grant.
  • Additional grant winners:
    • Indianapolis Parks Foundation

Social Determinants of Health:

  • A $100,000 grant was awarded to Gleaners Food Bank’s Hope Initiative to help increase the volume of fresh produce distributed in Gleaner’s service areas.
  • Indiana Legal Services, Inc. received a $75,000 grant for its Medical Legal Partnership that provides civil legal aid to patients and families who need legal assistance for health-related matters at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
  • Additional grant winners include:
    • Brandywine Creek Farms
    • Lawrence Community Gardens
    • Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity
    • 500 Festival
    • Groundwork Indy
    • Marion County Public Health Department
    • Junior Achievement of Central Indiana
    • Girls on the Run Central Indiana

In 2018, IU Health provided over $711 million in total community benefit and served more than one million Hoosiers. Nearly 4,000 team members devoted thousands of volunteer hours to community projects through employee volunteer programs to help enhance the well-being of all Hoosiers.

If you’re interested in learning more about how these organizations impact the communities IU Health serves, keep an eye on the team portal for a more in-depth look at some of the winning organizations.

Questions? Contact communitybenefit@iuhealth.org.