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Celebrating the Gift of Life

You may be aware that the month of April is celebrated nationally as Donate Life Month. The topic of organ donation is an important one, and I’ve talked a little bit about the amazing work some of our own staff are doing to increase awareness of this issue.


Part of that work each year is hosting an organ donor memorial service here at GSH. The 2012 ceremony took place last week.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it. But Carol Wahl was there—as were a host of other staff, visitors and family members of donors, I’m told—and she relayed to me how powerful the ceremony was. In the days since the ceremony, several comments have also been passed along about our ceremony so I wanted to make sure I mentioned it here.


First of all, have you seen the beautiful sculpture in the main lobby near the coffee cart? That was commissioned especially for us to honor our organ donors, and it was officially unveiled at the ceremony last week. The leaves on the tree bear the names of donors, and in all, will be a very nice addition to our West Tower lobby when it’s finished. It will be in the main lobby just a few more days, so if you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out before it goes into storage for safe keeping. Many thanks to local artist Beth Jasnoch Turner for her artful handiwork on this piece.


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Second, I really wish I had been at the ceremony itself—especially after I heard that a rep from Nebraska Organ Recovery System (NORS) let us know that our ceremony was so powerful, and set the bar high for all services of its kind in the state.


My sincere appreciation goes to the GSH Donor Awareness Council for their work to put the ceremony together, and for their efforts to make organ donation possible at Good Samaritan Hospital. It takes a very special group of professionals with the right mix of compassion and skill to help families navigate this unimaginable experience.


And now comes my plug for organ donation: If you’re not a registered organ donor, this is the perfect month to become one. You can register today at www.nedonation.org. It’s so easy. As healthcare professionals, we’re very aware of the discrepancy between those in need of a transplant, and the available donors that exist. Consider adding your name to the registered donor list today.




Here are some other miscellaneous photos from the ceremony...


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We were fortunate to nearly fill the lobby for the unveiling of the sculpture.


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Local artist and sculptor Beth Jasnoch Turner.


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Brian and Randy from Maintenance did the official unveiling of the sculpture.


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The Kearney High School Chorale provided special music for the lobby portion of the ceremony.

Quick Senatorial Stop

Yesterday, I got to play chauffeur to five Nebraska state senators who included GSH in their list of stops on a literal fly-around the state in support of LB 599. They hopped a flight in Omaha Thursday morning, flew to Scottsbluff, then to Kearney, Grand Island and Lincoln making stops to rally support for the passage of LB 599. After Cheryl and I picked them up at the airport (no, we did not get to wear those cool chauffeur hats), they took a quick tour of our nursery and NICU, then met with some of our physicians, board members and directors particularly close to this issue. Dr. Ken Shaffer had an opportunity to provide information (and some clinical education!) for the senators. You may have seen him on the news. After they wrapped all of that up, they made their way to the main lobby for a brief news conference.



Talking is Senator Mike Flood from Norfolk. He’s also the speaker of the Nebraska unicameral. Other senators along for the ride were Kathy Campbell, Mike Gloor, Greg Adams and Tom Carlson. 


If you’re unfamiliar with LB 599, it’s a bill that was just passed in our state legislature that would provide prenatal care for low-income women in the state of Nebraska. Governor Heineman has vowed to veto this bill because the coverage extends to illegal immigrants—hence the senators’ need for support. It will take 30 votes to override the veto; the bill was passed with 31 “yes” votes. A quick review of our local media will give you lots of info on this issue.


The Nebraska Hospital Association, the Nebraska Catholic Conference and a host of organizations support LB 599. As we know, children who go without prenatal care are at far more risk for low-birth weight, serious health problems and death.  When born, many of these children will qualify for Medicaid which adds far more cost to the state than paying for prenatal care. 


I’m quite certain we haven’t heard the last of this issue. If you feel so inclined, you can express your thoughts on the bill to our governor and to your state senator.

Good Friday Greetings

A good morning to one and all on this Good Friday, one of the holiest days of the Christian church year.


Easter is but a few days away, and I extend sincere well wishes to everyone as they prepare to celebrate. To those who will be spending the day with family or friends, or just simply away from work, enjoy the day and all it brings. And to those who will be working on Easter, thank you for caring for keeping things running smoothly. May He who died for our sins, continue to bless this ministry and the work of our hands.


Happy Easter!



This is Only a Drill

Don’t be fooled by the title of this blog entry: We participated in a housewide disaster exercise Wednesday afternoon, and while it was only a drill, it was certainly something to take seriously.


Wednesday’s exercise was designed to test our emergency evacuation policy. To do this, we acted like a tornado had hit the West Tower and majorly damaged the 2nd floor on the north side. The drill simulated that this unit was full of patients and staff, and some visitors were present too.


Given the region of the country we live in, this scenario is a very real possibility. And since we’re quickly coming up on tornado season, this was a poignant time to get everyone thinking in this direction.


When the Code Triage Type 3 Internal went out, guess who was the administrator on call? That’s right. Yours truly.


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Betsy Collins-Clark was house manager Wednesday and was awesome help in the command Center. Thanks for appearing on my blog, Betsy!


As incident commander, I got a first-hand view of our response to this situation. (I also got to wear an official smock and they gave me my own radio, but that’s beside the point.) The POINT is, I worked through this drill in the command center and appreciated the participation of everyone else as well.  While it may have felt a little awkward, or even silly (see the guy in the smock above), this exercise was an important learning opportunity that we took very seriously. What we found out, among a lot of positives, was we still have a lot to learn.


I think you might agree with me that the gravity of knowing this kind of event could actually happen—any day now, really—makes being prepared a little more urgent. After the drill was over and I got back to my office, I read the emails that came from the command center during the exercise. I knew they weren’t real, but the details didn’t seem outlandish at all. I hope you all realize it’s so important that we practice these situations because they really could happen and we will need to be ready. We need to be ready for the patients we have within our walls—and for those who will seek our help in the aftermath of a disaster. There are few other entities that have such important roles in times of crisis.


As an organization, we’ll continue to prepare for the unknown with exercises like Wednesday’s. Thanks to a dedicated group, our Emergency Management Team, we’ll be presented with more learning opportunities so we can respond in a calm, cool and collected way. I pass along my appreciation to everyone who participated in the drill, and to all of the Emergency Management Team members who planned the event:

§  Marilyn Bicak

§  Nicki Bohl

§  Chris Campbell

§  Heather Christensen

§  Tim Hoffman

§  Sue Hunter

§  Renae Jacobsen

§  Sue Jepsen

§  Julie Keaschall

§  Marlys Kossman

§  Martha Lofquist

§  Shane Melenbacker

§  Rachel Stubbs

§  Doug Wulf




PS: Shane Melenbacker snapped a couple other pictures in the West Tower during the drill. These were fun to see since I was stationed in the command center. 


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