Sister Mary Kieffer, OP, has a calm, soothing manner that would lead you to believe that she has been a woman religious her entire adult life. But there’s much more to Sr. Mary’s story and life journey.
As a young adult, Sr. Mary worked as a bartender and bar manager at a variety of restaurants in San Francisco and New York City. Next, she spent nearly a decade working at the Marine Exchange of the San Francisco Bay Region. There, she and her staff managed a 24/7, 365-day information clearinghouse for vessel operations throughout nine port districts. “I loved the different jobs I’d held, but always felt there was a hole in my life,” she says.
Religion had always been an important part of Sr. Mary’s life, so in her early 40s, she began researching different sister congregations on the Internet. “I truly felt I’d missed the boat,” she says, “because age limits ranged from the early 20s to around 40.”
While at church one day, she saw a flyer for the Sisters of San Rafael’s Come & See Day. She considered attending, but it wasn’t until a Sister handed her the same flyer a few days later that she decided to go. “I thought, ‘Just go, find out you’re too old, then get on with your life,’” she says.
She did attend. And toward the end of the day, she sat on the grounds reflecting and looking at the stained glass windows of the church. One of the Sisters approached and asked what she thought. “I told her that I felt as though I had come home,” says Sr. Mary.
In 2000, at the age of 47, Sr. Mary joined the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. The Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers, live their lives supported by four common values. They’re often referred to as the Four Pillars: community life, prayer, study, and ministry. “The congregation drew me to them because they are contemplative and apostolic, meaning they spend time in prayer yet they are also active in ministry,” she says.
As she looks back, Sr. Mary believes the people she met while working at her various jobs in San Francisco, many of whom lost their lives to AIDS, got her headed toward her spiritual vocation. “Visiting these friends in the hospital and assuring them of God’s love began paving my way.”
Sister Mary Kieffer, OP, vice president of mission integration, joined the St. Rose Dominican family in 2013. “The commitment and passion I saw in the staff to furthering the healing mission of Jesus, especially for our brothers and sisters in the community who are underserved, drew me to St. Rose,” says Sr. Mary.
Access Your Patient Records Online
Dignity Health Medical Group now offers an Online Patient Center for our patients! You or a designated family member can view your health records and communicate by e-mail with your personal physician.
The Dignity Health Medical Group Online Patient Center provides a convenient, secure, and electronic way for you to access your clinic visit records (as well as your St. Rose Dominican hospital information). You can also communicate with your Dignity Health Medical Group care team. All you need is Internet access and an e-mail address.
Features of the Online Patient Center:
- View lab, imaging, and pathology results (for tests performed at a Dignity Health facility)
- See a list of your procedures and diagnoses
- Review your medications and allergies
- View upcoming Dignity Health Medical Group and St. Rose Dominican appointments and add them to your personal calendar
- Send a secure message to request, reschedule or cancel an appointment
- Send secure messages to DHMG physicians and clinic staff
- Read a summary of your visit
It’s as easy as 1-2-3
- Provide your e-mail address when you check in for your appointment.
- Check your e-mail for an invitation to enroll in the Online Patient Center, and click on the link provided.
- Follow the quick, easy steps to enroll, and start managing all of your health records online!
Signing Up Is Easy!
Simply visit your Dignity Health Medical Group clinic and provide your e-mail address to the front desk staff. You will receive an e-mail invitation to the Online Patient Center. Click on the link provided in the e-mail and follow the quick, easy steps to complete your enrollment and start managing all of your health records online.
For More Help
Once you’ve enrolled, the Dignity Health Online Patient Center offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 877.621.8014, or on the web at DignityHealth.org/Patients.
Caring support means the world to one of our own.
For more than a decade, Marcie Mynatt, RN, has dedicated herself to caring for patients and being there for her fellow employees at St. Rose Dominican. In July 2011, Marcie learned she had Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. Suddenly, she found herself the patient—and when she needed it most, she also found incredible support.
Listening to her body
Severe bloating and pelvic pain had troubled Marcie for months. “I knew something was not right,” she says. “It wasn’t until I had a CT scan at St. Rose Dominican’s Rose de Lima Campus that the cancer was found.”
Unfortunately, this is often the case with ovarian cancer. It can occur and grow silently. And early signs may be dismissed as not serious. But when it is cancer, it’s one of the most dangerous types. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer accounts for only about 3 percent of cancers among women. But it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
After she was diagnosed, Marcie’s treatment began immediately. She had a complete hysterectomy. Lymph nodes in her pelvis and abdomen were removed along with a section of her colon.
“For those whose cancer has spread widely throughout the abdomen as Marcie’s had, it is important that as much of the
tumor is removed as possible,” says Anthony Nguyen, MD, oncologist. “The goal is to leave no tumors larger than 1 centimeter.”
Strengthened by humankindness
“Those who have or have had any type of cancer know that it takes strength and a will to fight,” says Marcie. “But it also takes support, and I honestly couldn’t have made it this far without my family and friends as well as the assistance I
received from St. Rose Dominican and its employees. I am so thankful for their amazing generosity.”
Marcie’s co-workers donated PTO (paid time off), prepared meals for her family, and covered for her when treatments left her exhausted. “I was able to focus on recovering without worrying about work,” she says.
If you have concerns about your gynecologic health and need a doctor, please call 702.616.4900 for a referral.
When you are recovering from an injury, surgery or illness and need continued care, there’s no place you’d rather receive that care than in the comfort of your own home. And your recovery can be much smoother when you’re supported by the exceptional health care team at St. Rose Home Health Services.
The three St. Rose Dominican hospitals in Henderson and Las Vegas are here to serve our community by providing a full spectrum of services that treat and help you recover from illnesses, injuries, surgeries, and more. In some cases, when patients are ready to be discharged from the hospital, they may still need continued care or treatment to complete their recovery. With St. Rose Home Health Services, that care can be provided at home.
If your doctor or a referring health care provider decides you or a loved one needs home health care, St. Rose Home Health Services is here to help. “Our experienced, highly skilled staff includes registered nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and social workers, who all thrive on providing exceptional care filled with compassion and kindness,” says Sharon Kelley, Sr. Director of Home Health Services. “In fact, two of our nurses were named nurses of the year in 2014: Bonnie Schmidt, RN, by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, and Terry Yates, RN, by March of Dimes Nevada. Our entire team of caregivers is exceptional.”
St. Rose Home Health Services is the only not-for-profit, faith-based, Joint Commission accredited, state licensed and Medicare certified home health agency in southern Nevada. “As part of the St. Rose Dominican system, we are passionate about providing caring service to those in our community,” says Sharon. “I’m proud to say that the care provided by our Home Health team exceeds the national average in all patient satisfaction surveys conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”
St. Rose Dominican’s team was named a top home health agency in the U.S. numerous times by Homecare Elite and is a frequent recipient of HealthInsight’s Home Health Quality Award. The Home Health team keeps patients on the road to recovery by providing assistance with services such as IV management, skilled nursing care, physical, speech and occupational therapies, wound care, medication management, and family/caregiver education.
Ask your doctor if you would benefit from home health services. To learn more about St. Rose Home Health Services, please call 702.616.4476 or visit strosehospitals.org/homehealth.
Melanie Baldwin considers herself a “walking, talking research and development project 50 years in the making.” Born with a congenital heart defect – still the leading cause of death in children – Melanie says she is “a product of determination, good fortune, and amazing technology.”
“I was born with a hole in my heart and a defective aortic valve, and I have had five open heart surgeries through the years,” says Melanie. “I am currently on my fourth pacemaker.”
Melanie had two surgeries while she was still a young child then another when she turned 19 to replace a defective aortic valve with a mechanical one. The new valve was meant to last 15 years, but in exchange, she would have to take Coumadin to keep her blood thin. This arrangement worked well until she married and decided her life was not really complete without a child.
Almost 25 years ago, Melanie became pregnant, and after moving to San Diego, she went to check in with her new doctor. That doctor’s appointment turned into a month long hospital stay because she had developed a blood clot just outside of her heart; if it moved, both she and the baby were at risk of dying.
Although Melanie knew her pregnancy was considered high risk, she did not expect to be told that she would have to terminate her pregnancy in order to have surgery to remove the clot. While she was on complete bed rest, doctors spent a month trying to convince her that was the best option. She adamantly refused and insisted they do the surgery while she was pregnant, which they did, reluctantly. At 26 weeks pregnant, Melanie’s clot was removed and her mechanical valve was
replaced with a pig valve.
“Not only did I survive, so did my daughter,” says Melanie. “I gave birth to her in July 1990, and I have never regretted my decision. Cardiovascular disease is a family affair. It affects everyone you know and love.”
Melanie’s mom, Carol Payne, agrees. “Ours has been a normal life for the most part, interspersed with moments of horror, heart-wrenching sorrow, and desperation,” says Carol. “But there were also euphoric moments when Melanie’s amazing positive spirit and tenacity helped overcome what should have been life-ending events.”
Melanie suffered cardiac arrest in June 2013 and spent 10 days in the hospital. She walked out of the hospital, but the incident put her in line for an AICD (automatic implanted cardioverter-defibrillator) to replace her third pacemaker. An AICD differs from a pacemaker in that its defibrillator has the ability to shock the heart out of a life-threatening heart rhythm abnormality. “Luckily, Melanie was resuscitated by her husband when she had her cardiac arrest,” says Dhiraj Narula, M.D., FACC, a board certified cardiac electrophysiologist. “We changed her pacemaker to a pacemaker-AICD combination to protect her in the event she had another cardiac arrest.” The procedure was done at the end of August 2013, and she spent another five days at Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican’s Siena Campus.
February is American Heart Month, a nationwide initiative to raise awareness in the effort to combat heart disease and educate communities on prevention and treatment options.
Melanie, her mom, and her daughter are sharing their stories at the American Heart Association’s Go Red Luncheon on Friday, Feb. 27. “Our family has obviously learned a lot about cardiovascular disease over the years,” says Melanie. “My mom is my hero. She’s been right beside me every step of the way, as has my daughter who has accompanied me through my cardiac ‘journey’ and is now a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer.”
“You can’t control what challenges life throws your way, but you can control how you choose to deal with those challenges,” says the upbeat, ever joyful, Melanie.
A Mother’s View
“My daughter is the hero,” says Carol. “When Melanie was born, my doctor told me there was a problem, so I was amazed that there was nothing visibly wrong, and this has really been true all of her life. Melanie has never looked sick, and she has always had a happy, positive disposition.
When Melanie was 3 years old, we went to the hospital for her first surgery. It was supposed to be the only surgery she would need … the one that would fix whatever was wrong, but after the surgery, we learned that doctors had found other problems with her heart.”
At 7, while living in San Diego, further surgery was recommended to open Melanie’s aortic valve. “She was comforting me as she went into surgery,” says Carol, “telling me that she would be fine and I wasn’t to cry.” At 19, Melanie was told she needed further surgery, this time to replace the aortic valve. She was told the night before surgery that the surgeon would be using a mechanical valve, so she would need to take blood thinners, which meant having children was not an option. “We had always felt tremendous gratitude that technology and medicine could save Melanie’s life,” says Carol, “but now the quality of her life would change. She was devastated.”
Melanie later married, and Carol was not surprised when she decided to have a child against all odds. “She had survived a ruptured appendix and cardiac arrest shortly after her surgery at 19, so when she said she could handle pregnancy while taking blood thinners, I believed her. The result is our beautiful Kate.”
A Daughter’s Perspective
As an ultrasound technician, Kate Eggington works with people who have heart problems every day. “I chose this career partially because of my mother,” says Kate and Melanie, with friend Ronrico Hawkins, at the AHA’s annual Heart Walk in 2014. Kate. “But it wasn’t until I completed my schooling that I realized how serious her condition is. I almost wish I could go back to my days of ignorance because knowing the full depth and consequences of what she was born with is scary.”
Even knowing about her mother’s heart condition, it wasn’t until June 15, 2013, that Kate was forced to accept that “my mother wasn’t as invincible as she seemed and that I could lose her at any point without any notice.”
Kate’s parents were having a normal day at home. “Luckily, my stepfather happened to be home for one of the 10 weeks of the year he doesn’t travel,” she says. That afternoon, Kate’s mother’s heart stopped without any warning. She collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. For the next two days, she was put into a coma and therapeutic hypothermia was used (her body temperature was lowered) to slow her metabolism, decrease the amount of oxygen she needed, and prevent brain damage.
“None of us could function. I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep, I was inconsolable,” says Kate. “During the times I could actually bring myself to sit by her bed, I couldn’t call her mom because the sound of my voice made her reach out, trying to pull at the IV and breathing tube she had in. On the third day, they slowly warmed her back up, and when they took her out of sedation and she spoke, my stepfather broke down. We hadn’t lost her. After 10 days in the hospital she finally came home to us.”
“Although that was the most terrifying experience of my life,” says Kate. “I now cherish my mother … every lunch with her, every hug, every time she says I love you.” Heart disease kills more women each year and is more deadly than all forms of cancer. Melanie is a true advocate for raising awareness of the threat of heart disease – she’s been actively involved with the American Heart Association for 15 years. Arm yourself with information. To learn the facts about heart disease and what you can do to prevent it, visit goredforwomen.org. For more information about cardiac services provided at St. Rose Dominican or to find a St. Rose cardiologist, visit strosehospitals.org/heart.
When Josh woke at his home in Henderson in the middle of the night unable to walk, paramedics rushed him to St. Rose Dominican’s Rose de Lima Campus. After spending two weeks in the hospital getting his health stabilized, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) staff took over and helped Josh walk out the front doors.
Josh was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre (pronounced Gē-yän Bä Rā) Syndrome, a rare, serious autoimmune disorder that damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the syndrome affects one out of every 100,000 people.
“Doctors think I had a virus that locked on to my nerve endings,” says Josh. “So after fighting off the virus, my body thought the nerve endings were still part of it, and it just kept attacking.” With Josh bedridden, doctors turned to the hospital’s IRF and its new robotic technology for answers.
Fortunately for Josh, the IRF had recently received three new robotic rehabilitation therapy machines made by Hocoma® Products: the Erigo®, Lokomat Pro®, and Armeo®Power and Hand Therapy robot. According to Dr. Tony Chin, Medical Director of the IRF, the hospital is the first in the southwest United States to receive the equipment.
Erigo® – The Erigo® (shown right) is a robotic mobilization and electrical stimulation support system that helps patients stand again after long periods of lying down. Named Apollo Zen by the IRF (“Apollo” for god of the sky and “Zen” for health), it gradually moves the patient into an upright position, allowing them to gain the strength to stand. Robotic foot pedals help patients improve their blood circulation while doing passive, active or resisted exercise. The system also uses functional electrical stimulation to assist in muscle contraction, which speeds strengthening.
“The whole idea is to get the muscles to contract so we get blood flow back to the heart,” says Dr. Chin. “With good blood flow, the heart starts to pump, and we can slowly tilt the patient upright while maintaining their blood pressure. If they’re able to maintain blood pressure, they’re able to do therapy.”
A few days after Josh was admitted to Rose de Lima, the Erigo® arrived. He was the first patient to test out the new technology. “The Erigo® was amazing,” says Josh. “It got me moving again. I’ve been on my feet ever since.”
Lokomat Pro® – The IRF’s Lokomat Pro®, a customizable robotic gait training system that helps patients walk again, has been nicknamed “Optimus Yung” (Optimus, a robot character in the movie “Transformers” that helps humans, and Yung, the Chinese word for “courageous”). The name is fitting because it takes a lot of courage for a patient to get on the machine and try to walk again after a stroke or traumatic injury.
The machine (shown left) hoists patients upright using a harness that moves up and down and side to side to simulate the natural “bob” of a walking person. Robotic legs attach to the patient’s hips, knees, and ankles to guide them as they move forward on a treadmill, and a hip attachment feature allows natural hip movement. A video screen facing the patient offers games that encourage and provide instant feedback.
The Lokomat Pro® has both automatic and manual settings. New patients are typically placed on an automatic setting so they can experience concise and repetitive movements to form new muscle memory. The settings are gradually moved to manual as the patient improves. “The movement has to be precise and accurate,” says Dr. Chin. “If not, they will learn a bad pathway.”
After stabilizing his blood pressure using the Erigo®, Josh used the Lokomat Pro® to regain his ability to walk. “The machine got me started,” says Josh. “I went from not being able to walk to moving my legs to being able to hold my weight to walking all over again. Now, I feel like I can almost jump again.”
“It’s like the old expression, ‘You never forget how to ride a bike,’” says Josh. “Well, you never forget how to walk either. Sometimes it just takes a while to get it down the way you did before, but the amazing staff here at the IRF helps you do it.”
Armeo®Power – The Armeo®Power (shown right) is an upper body robot that helps patients regain the use of their arms. Dr. Chin says the machine focuses on repetition to increase strength and improve mobility of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Like the Lokomat Pro®, it uses video games to encourage patients and give them instant feedback.
“Our Armeo®Power is named Rosie Chern,” says Dr. Chin. “’Rosie’ after Rosie the Riveter (an American icon during World War II representing women who worked in factories), and Chern, the Chinese word for being successful.”
Former patient Lana Million experienced the machine’s success after suffering from a debilitating stroke in July 2014 that caused her entire left side to become numb. After spending two weeks recovering at St. Rose Dominican’s Siena Campus, Lana was transferred to the Rose de Lima IRF to rehabilitate using the Armeo®Power. “My fingers and arm would move, but I couldn’t control them,” Lana says. “The Armeo helped me learn how to squeeze things, and it gave me the whole range of movement back in my arm. I can’t imagine having better therapy.”
“Our emergency rooms save lives,” says Teressa Conley, President/CEO of the Rose de Lima Campus, “but life-saving
technology is just part of the picture. After trauma, accident, or stroke, it is only through rehabilitative services that patients really get their lives back. Regaining the ability to do something as simple as combing your hair or brushing your teeth or something incredibly difficult, such as learning to walk and be independent again, is truly life-saving.”
In the past, residents had to travel out of state for care beyond traditional therapy. Now that Rose de Lima has the Hocoma® technology, residents can recover in their own community.
The robotic technology offered at the IRF now allows patients to have the best of both worlds: the most current technology
and the support of friends and family. For Josh, staying close to home was important because it allowed him to visit with his two small children every other day. “If I was out of state, that wouldn’t have been an option,” Josh says. “It was hard not being able to hold my kids when they were sitting right next to me, but having them visit was motivation. It kept me pushing, and it kept me moving forward. I did it for them.”
At a recent unveiling of the new equipment, Conley agreed. “We are proud to be the leader in rehabilitative services for our region,” she says. “Residents of southern Nevada should not need to leave the community to get the best medical care available.” To learn more, visit StRoseHospitals.org/IRF.
At St. Rose Dominican, we strive to ensure that humankindness drives every interaction we have with the people we serve. During the week of January 26-30, St. Rose is encouraging employees to take part in The Great Kindness Challenge, which includes a suggested 50-item Acts of Kindness checklist to complete by January 30.
St. Rose is working in partnership with the Josh Stevens Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that helps schools, businesses, and youth organizations across the nation recognize and celebrate heartfelt acts of kindness. With their help, more than 100 Nevada schools are participating in this year’s Great Kindness Challenge. Participating schools are giving their students the 50-item checklist and encouraging them to complete that checklist by January 30. Students who complete the checklist will receive a gift from the Josh Stevens Foundation.
Globally, the Great Kindness Challenge is currently on target to have more than two million students enrolled for 2015, which will amount to 100 million acts of kindness in schools nationwide. In addition to serving as a presenting sponsor of the Great Kindness Challenge, many of Dignity Health’s more than 65,000 executives, employees, and physicians are taking the Great Kindness Challenge alongside the students, effectively “matching” their good deeds in hospital, clinic, and office settings.
“St. Rose is committed to practicing humankindness every day in our hospitals and care centers,” said Brian Brannman, senior vice president of operations for Dignity Health Nevada. “We are focused on putting policies in place that strengthen the human connection with our doctors, nurses, and caregivers so every guest feels welcome, safe, comfortable, listened to, and respected. Our mission calls us to collaborate with organizations that share the same goals and help spread the word about the power of kindness, especially within schools.”
For more information on The Great Kindness Challenge and Kids For Peace, go to http://www.greatkindnesschallenge.org. For more information on the Josh Stevens Foundation, please visit http://www.joshstevensfoundation.org.