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Mercy Receives Grant from Variety – the Children’s Charity

The MedQuarter | May 24th, 2022

Mercy Medical Center has received a $19,000 grant from Variety – the Children’s Charity. The grant will fund items for Mercy’s Birthplace and NICU, including an IntelliVue X3 Patient Monitor and two GE Bilirubin Spot Lites.

The Variety grant will support patient care in the following ways:

  • The IntelliVue X3 Patient Monitor is state-of-the-art technology to monitor an infant’s vital signs in an acute setting. Its small, mobile design allows for efficiency in a critical situation.
  • The GE Bilirubin Spot Lites offer high-intensity phototherapy for effective treatment of hyperbilirubinemia, which is a threat to the well-being of 60% of full-term infants and 80% of pre-term infants. The Spot Lites support developmental care measures.

“This new equipment offers our families further confidence and security in knowing their children are being cared for with state-of-the-art equipment within Mercy’s Birthplace & NICU,” said Carri Brecht, director of Women and Children’s Services. “We always strive to be responsive to the changing needs of children, mothers and families. Support from Variety – the Children’s Charity has helped Mercy continue to provide high-quality care for our patients.”


Partnership Between UnityPoint-St. Luke’s, Kirkwood Hoping to Recruit More Nurses

The MedQuarter | May 24th, 2022

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A new partnership between UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and Kirkwood Community College is hoping to address the nursing shortage at the hospital.

The Nursing Promise Program is open for students graduating this year and next, and will give them financial assistance if they agree to work in an area of need at St. Luke’s for 18 months.

Olivia Mutasingwa has always had an interest in healthcare, but working as a CNA after high school made her decide to become a nurse.

“I didn’t realize how much care people needed once they got older,” Mutasingwa said. “I know it sounds silly to say, but coming out of high school and working in a nursing home definitely opened my eyes to the things that people need, as they get older.”

Mutasingwa is in her final semester at Kirkwood, and qualified for the Nursing Promise Program. That financial help is going a long way as she prepares for her future.

“Luckily I’m at a community college,” Mutasingwa said. “So, the financial burden isn’t as extreme as someone who is at a university, but it’s still pretty expensive to go to nursing school, especially paying for books, uniforms, you have to commute yourself to and from clinical sites.”

Workers with the hospital say there’s a shortage in almost all of their departments. They hope this program will help recruit, and retain nurses.

“What we’re also committing to them is creating a workplace and a work environment,” Carmen Kleinsmith, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at St. Luke’s, said. “Where we bet on wanting them to stay after they’ve been here those 18 months.”

Mutasingwa is excited to graduate this year, and make a difference.

“After the 2 years that nurses have gone through, I don’t necessarily blame them,” Mutasingwa said. “But I’m hoping I can be a help to the shortage.”

Mercy Names New President and CEO

The MedQuarter | May 19th, 2022

Timothy Quinn, Mercy Medical Center Cedar Rapids President and CEO
Dr. Timothy Quinn, President & CEO Mercy Medical Center

The Board of Trustees at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids has selected Timothy Quinn, MD, as its next President & CEO, effective January 1, 2023. Dr. Quinn will replace Timothy Charles, who earlier this year announced his planned retirement for December 31, 2022. Dr. Quinn’s selection was a result of the Mercy Board of Trustees’ succession planning process, which has been underway for the last several years.

“As the Board of Trustees, we are entrusted with supporting the continued ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, which began more than 120 years ago,” said Al Ruffalo, chair of the Mercycare Service Corporation Board of Trustees. “Finding an individual to carry on our tradition of award-winning care and exceptional service that we call The Mercy Touch is no simple task. However, through our planning process, we have identified an exceptionally qualified and experienced leader who knows and understands our legacy and can also navigate Mercy through the ever-challenging future of healthcare. I can think of no one more prepared than Dr. Quinn; he truly embodies The Mercy Touch.”

Current President & CEO, Timothy Charles, said, “Dr. Tim Quinn is an exceptional leader. I selected him as President of Clinic Operations in 2009 given my assessment of his strengths and potential, as well as in recognition of the trend toward physicians assuming top leadership roles within the very best health systems across the nation. His success led to a subsequent promotion to Executive Vice President & Chief of Clinical Operations. Having worked closely with him for many years, I have complete confidence in his ability to build on Mercy’s success. Of greatest importance, I am assured of his dedication to the mission of Mercy and the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy. “The healthcare industry will continue to evolve and change rapidly, presenting new challenges,” Charles continued. “Refreshing senior leadership is both healthy and necessary. I will work closely with the Board in the coming months to ensure a seamless transition so that Mercy continues to be well-positioned today and into the future.”

Dr. Quinn received his undergraduate, MBA and MD degrees from the University of Iowa. He completed his residency in family medicine with the Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation and joined MercyCare Community Physicians in 2005 as a family practice physician. Dr. Quinn then became President of MercyCare Community Physicians in 2009 before assuming his current role as Executive Vice President & Chief of Clinical Operations in 2012. He’s also a past president of the Linn County Medical Society.

“I am a lifelong resident of this area and have deep roots at Mercy,” Dr. Quinn said. “My wife, Jessica, also a healthcare provider, and our two children have a special connection with Mercy’s mission. I am honored and thrilled to be able to serve this wonderful community and lead an exceptional organization that is so important to Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas. Thanks to Tim Charles’ leadership and the work of Mercy’s entire team, the organization’s future is bright. I am excited about what is ahead for Mercy and our community; we have a number of initiatives planned or underway that will pave the way for Mercy to continue to provide innovative healthcare for generations to come.”

Mercy Endoscopy Unit Recognized for Quality & Safety

The MedQuarter | May 18th, 2022

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), has recognized the endoscopy unit at Mercy Cedar Rapids as part of its program specifically dedicated to promoting quality in endoscopy. 

The ASGE Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program honors endoscopy units that have demonstrated a commitment to patient safety and quality in endoscopy by meeting the program’s rigorous criteria in areas such as quality assurance, CDC infection control guidelines and endoscopy staff competency. 

“Mercy’s gastroenterology team is honored to be recognized by ASGE for our efforts to enhance quality and safety in our endoscopy unit,” said Dr. Bhavya Akhauri, medical director, Mercy Gastroenterology Clinic. “Through ongoing education and continued compliance with the ASGE Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program requirements, we’re committed to delivering high-quality patient care.” 

Endoscopy is performed by highly trained gastroenterologists using the most current technology to diagnose and treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Using flexible, thin tubes called endoscopes, physicians are able to access and visualize the human digestive tract. Endoscopes are designed with high-intensity lighting and fitted with precision devices that allow high-definition viewing and treatment of the gastrointestinal tract.

St. Luke’s Hospital Offering New Prostate Cancer Imaging Agent

The MedQuarter | May 16th, 2022

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital Imaging/Nuclear Medicine Department is now offering the recent FDA approved prostate cancer imaging agent, Illuccix injection.

According to a news release, this new PET/CT imaging agent can aid clinicians in determining extent of disease in men with prostate cancer. St. Luke’s team imaged its first patient using the agent this week.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer this highly anticipated PET agent,” said Sarah Pauley, MD, PhD, medical director and radiation safety officer, Radiology Consultants of Iowa, PLC, in the release. “It is expected to transform imaging of and, ultimately treatment for prostate cancer.”

Illuccix is indicated for PET/CT imaging of prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) positive lesions in patients with prostate cancer with suspected metastasis who are candidates for initial definitive therapy and suspected recurrence based on elevated serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, according to the release.

It is anticipated that PSMA PET/CT imaging will replace body CT and bone scan as the standard of care. PSMA PET/CT imaging has been included in the latest National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for prostate cancer.

The imaging product received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in December 2021.


St. Luke’s innovation lab creates gaming keyboard for spinal care patient

The MedQuarter | May 11th, 2022

St. Luke's innovation lab

Lotus Friedman, a 13-year-old hospitalized at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids after sustaining an acute spinal cord injury, is finally able to play video games since a skiing accident in January caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down.

While treating her injuries, a St. Luke’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Patient Care Technician Dan Wolfe learned that Lotus loved playing video games but was unable to play on her PC since her fingers could not use a keyboard and mouse.

With the help of the St. Luke’s team, Mr. Wolfe began creating an adaptive keyboard in the innovation lab (located on the hospital’s first floor).

“We worked on Lotus’ gaming keyboard for about four weeks,” said Rose Hedges, a nursing research and innovation coordinator, in a statement. “Since Lotus doesn’t have fine motor skills it was adapted to use her gross motor skills with larger buttons that correlate to something on the keyboard. We went through a couple of prototypes and the final product has LED lights and even her name on it.”

Once finished, Lotus Friedman is now able to use a new gaming keyboard that has LED lights with her name on it. CREDIT ST. LUKE’S HOPSITAL

The St. Luke’s lab opened in November 2019 when the hospital partnered with Boston-based MakerHealth for the construction and ideation of an open-access medical technology and learning lab. MakerHealth, a spinoff of MIT’s Little Devices Lab in Massachusetts. It is the first hands-on fabrication lab of its kind in the Midwest.

During the pandemic the generate lab shifted its focus to help create items like cloth masks, face shields and other associated items. Work at generate has pivoted back to its original intent, which is to encourage and enable innovation at the hospital bedside and in UnityPoint Clinics.

“It’s been a little bittersweet to have this device,” said Lotus. “I don’t get to enjoy gaming like I used to yet and it’s something I am relearning, but I am thankful to have this device and the opportunity to do something I haven’t been able to do in a really long time. Even making the device was fun because I would go down to the innovation lab and hang out with everyone there and just get away from being in the hospital.”

[Watch now: Lotus uses the keyboard to play video games.]

Lotus has been hospitalized since January and is slowly gaining use of body parts that lost movement. CREDIT ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL

The accident was so severe Lotus needed to be airlifted from UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital in Dubuque to Cedar Rapids. Her C5 vertebra was shattered and replaced with titanium.

“We had been skiing down the hills and wanted to try this jump,” Lotus explained. “Basically, I went off the ramp too fast, did a flip and my skis popped off. I didn’t mean to do a flip and I landed chin-down. I knew something was broken and thought I was in shock and figured it was why I couldn’t move. I was conscious for everything.”

Her mom, Billie, says that when she first arrived she had “very little movement” but is now slowly regaining use of her arms and other areas. Lotus works on her rehab nearly 40 hours a week to build back strength and regain movement.

“We worked on a few other adaptive items for Lotus, but the gaming keyboard is the biggest project,” Ms. Hedges explained. “It’s satisfying to work with our team members and patients who are receiving care from us to help make their lives better. We are here as a resource to our nurses, techs, doctors and even patients. We don’t take orders, but we will work with the clinicians and patients to create innovative tools that improve their quality of life.”

Lotus’ keyboard is one of about 377 projects created in the innovation lab since it opened.

Originally posted by CBJ:

Hall-Perrine Cancer Center Accredited by American College of Radiation Oncology

The MedQuarter | May 5th, 2022

Mercy Medical Center’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center has received full accreditation from the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO).

ACRO accreditation is a voluntary process in which professional peers identify standards indicative of a quality practice and an audit is conducted to ensure that the standards are followed. During an on-site inspection at Mercy, the professional peer group extensively reviewed medical records, verified procedural processes and interviewed the center’s medical providers.

“We are pleased to have earned this recognition from the American College of Radiation Oncology,” said Dr. Wook Lee, medical director of radiation oncology at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. “In the field of cancer care, this group is the gold standard. ACRO accreditation is an affirmation of our long-standing commitment to providing the highest level of radiation therapy available, delivered by an exceptionally skilled team of medical experts. Patients can be assured they are receiving the highest quality of cancer care.”

Currently, approximately 225 practices are ACRO accredited or in the process of accreditation. Only two other radiation oncology programs in Iowa have successfully undergone this rigorous accreditation process, one of which is in Ames and another that’s located in Sioux City.

UnityPoint Health Partnering with Bank of America to Address Healthcare Workforce Issues Through Pilot Pathways Program

The MedQuarter | May 2nd, 2022

UnityPoint Health® is proud to announce a partnership with Bank of America that provides the health system with a loaned executive to help advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in hiring and career advancement. This is Bank of America’s first loaned executive in the state of Iowa. Kechi Kwizera, a Senior Vice President & Director at Bank of America, serves on the enterprise leadership team for Bank of America LEAD for Women, and as Co-Chair heading Market Integration. Kwizera is an active member of multiple bank employee networks including the Black Professionals Group, Parents & Caregivers Network, Disability Action Network, and the LGBTQ and Pride Network. She began working with UnityPoint Health in early 2022.

As part of her role, Kwizera is helping to launch the UnityPoint Health Pathways Program. This initiative is designed to assist team members from underrepresented communities advance their careers. The program will help connect them with education and training programs to help them gain practical problem-solving and leadership skills. It’s part of UnityPoint Health’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy and goal of achieving a diverse workforce reflective of the communities it serves.

UnityPoint Health President and CEO Clay Holderman said the investment in innovative partnerships is key to attracting and retaining a skilled and diverse workforce, “It’s critical to invest in our team members who are already working in our health system doing various, and often entry-level roles. If we can help them advance in their careers, it benefits patients, our team members, and UnityPoint Health.”

“At Bank of America, we are committed to being a catalyst for positive change in our communities and to supporting initiatives which advance the health and success of all.” said Heidi Parkhurst, President, Bank of America Iowa. “The UnityPoint Pathways Program is an exciting next step in our partnership with UnityPoint Health, which has been fundamental in ensuring quality healthcare and addressing work shortages across our state.”

Prior to her appointment at UnityPoint Health, Kwizera served as a leader within Bank of America’s Global Real Estate division. She previously held a leadership position at Ascension Health Resource Group (St. Louis) and served internationally, spearheading a global health and economic development initiative under Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, delivering an economic sustainability program in rural Uganda. Kwizera holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Manchester University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

Tanager Place Asks Region to ‘Taco Bout’ Mental Health in May

The MedQuarter | May 2nd, 2022

Tanager Place is recognizing National Mental Health Awareness Month in 2022 with a
twist that everyone can relate to – food!

According to Mental Health America, nearly 1 in 2 Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some time in their life. However, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive care.

Tanager Place’s awareness campaign, centered around food puns, aims to reduce the stigma around discussing mental health with a relatable, approachable message. Campaign materials with phrases like “Let’s Taco Bout It”, “Mental Health Matters a Latte” and “Even Tough Cookies Talk About Their Feelings” will be found throughout the community during the month of May.

Stigma-reducing campaigns have proven effective in persuading people to seek help for mental health concerns. Communities implementing these campaigns have shown demonstrable effects, with people feeling more comfortable talking about their own mental health concerns, as well as decreases in the number of people who were reluctant to receive help.

Community members can participate in this campaign in a variety of ways, including participating in a Tanager Place community event this month, purchasing a food puns t-shirt, sharing their own story regarding mental health challenges publicly and supporting others who share their stories. Community members may also consider making a donation to the Tanager Place Equity & Inclusion Fund, which allows Tanager Place to serve clients who may not otherwise be able to afford their treatment costs. Details for all of these can be found at

Tanager Place helps youth and families overcome challenges and find mental wellness. Through a mix of
prevention, treatment and outreach, we give families hope, and youth the tools to be successful.

Mercy Cedar Rapids’ Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit Receives Top Performer Award

The MedQuarter | April 22nd, 2022

Mercy IRU TeamThe Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit (IRU) at Mercy Cedar Rapids was recently awarded the Uniform Data System (UDS) for Medical Rehabilitation Top Performer Award in recognition of its outstanding rehabilitation program performance. UDS maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes.

“We strive to take excellent care of our patients and we have good outcomes,” said IRU Medical Director, Carla Schulz, MD, FAAFP. “Ranking in the 97th percentile proves just what remarkable teamwork can do. This award recognizes that the care we provide to our patients is effective, efficient and patient-centered.”

Mercy’s IRU ranks in the top 25 in the nation among a pool of more than 850 rehabilitation hospitals. Additionally, it’s rated in the top four of more than 100 IRUs with its partner, LifePoint Health – a national company that specializes in rehabilitation.

In 2020, Mercy’s IRU received a three-year accreditation from CARF International (Certified Acute Rehab Facility), which was earned in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. CARF-accredited facilities must meet the most rigorous standards and show a demonstrated commitment to the best patient care.

For more information on Mercy’s award-winning IRU, visit

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