Her co-workers call her “Mama Cheri” because she’s always checking on everyone else. Cheri Richard is a transplant coordinator for University Hospital, a singer, a mom, a grandmother, and a breast cancer survivor.
Cheri Richard looks at her job as a transplant coordinator as a marriage of sorts.
She graduated from a small Delaware County High School, obtained her Bachelors Degree in Nursing from IU and started with IU Health working in intensive care at Methodist Hospital. After awhile she moved into OB outpatient and then helped patients with insurance claims.
“A friend said they needed someone in transplant. I didn’t know a lot about transplant other than I had helped with insurance claims for transplant patients. They needed me, I needed them so we got married,” said Richard. “I was told that the lifespan of a transplant coordinator is about 2-3 years because it’s so intense, but 13 years later I am still here.”
And she can’t imagine being anywhere else.
“It’s never the same two days in a row – different patients, different diagnosis, different plans. There’s a lot of individuality.”
As a pre-transplant coordinator, Richard works with patients listed specifically for liver transplants and oversees about 175-225 patients. “When our nurses are out of the office we cover for each other so sometimes I’ll cover for post transplant and its rewarding to see some of my patients who have gone through successful transplants and are healthy again,” said Richard. “They call me ‘Mama Cheri’ because I’m always looking out for others on the team and the patients too.”
She understands what it means to have others on the look out. She too, relied on the help of others when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 1999. During chemotherapy and radiation, she said the hardest thing was reaching out to others for help. But now, when she talks to pre-transplant patients she shares with them the importance of accepting that help.
“I learned that with the support of other people you can get through anything. That’s made me a better nurse.”
More about Richard:
- As a 19-year breast cancer survivor she has participated in the Komen Race for the Cure a number of times.
- Music is her passion. She performs with a praise band at her church Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg and also plays hand bells.
- She is the mother to three adult children and one 15-month-old grandson.
- Last year she joined 10 of her classmates from Wapahani High School Class of 1975, including a jungle medic in Guatemala for a seven-day medical mission trip. “We didn’t speak the language, but we didn’t need to. Smiles and a caring touch went a long way. It was quite a life-changing experience.”
— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.