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Jones Regional Medical Center Urgent Care - Anamosa

1795 Highway 64 East
Anamosa, IA 52205

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153 Collins Road Northeast
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

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1940 Blairs Ferry Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233

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Trust. Confidence. Experience. Meet the people behind St. Luke's unparalleled Heart Care

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Facts Matter - More people choose St. Luke's for heart care


Meet Our Experienced Heart Care Team

St. Luke's Hospital has the largest, most comprehensive heart care program in Cedar Rapids. In fact, we treat more heart patients than any other hospital in Cedar Rapids and perform more advanced heart procedures, so you don't have to travel out of town. Know the facts when it comes to your heart care – more people choose St. Luke's because of our long legacy as the Heart Hospital. Experience matters. 

Virginia Dietiker, RN, BSN, CRRN - 40 Years
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

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Year started at St. Luke’s:
1981

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
In addition to being a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), I’m also trained on intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) and Impella. IABP is a device that helps perfuse and strengthen the heart. Impella, known as the “world’s smallest heart pump,” assists the heart when it is too weak to pump on its own. In addition, I’m certified in Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT).

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
A nurse who took care of my mom when I was young inspired me to be a nurse myself. My mom was rushed to the hospital, and when I was able to see her the following night, I didn’t want to leave. The nurse on duty promised me she would take very good care of my mom. I had the honor of working with that nurse when I became an RN.

Why cardiology patients?
I worked on telemetry (unit that monitors patients’ vital signs, heart rhythms, heart conditions, pre/post heart procedures) for 24 years before transferring to the ICU. I wanted to work in ICU because I believed I could really help patients there, while growing at the same time. It was a challenging but rewarding decision.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I was dropping off an application at St. Luke’s the HR director insisted on interviewing me immediately. I was so embarrassed because I was not dressed for an interview. Afterwards, he sent me to the director of nursing, who had me visit with the head nurse of telemetry, and I was hired that day! Everyone was so friendly and got along so well.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
When patients come to St. Luke’s to see me; when families say they are comfortable leaving, knowing I will give their loved one good care – these are the times I feel the proudest. I have one patient who calls me every year on the anniversary of his CAB (coronary artery bypass) surgery; he says he’ll never forget me because I took good care of him and kept him calm.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
Life is short. We take so much for granted – the ability to breathe, talk, walk, think, sit up, etc. Patients who maintain a thankful, pleasant attitude, no matter what they’re going through, inspire me.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
St. Luke’s stands out because of our excellent doctors and nurses who care for patients and respect one another.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
Many of my family members have been ICU patients in different hospitals, so I always treat patients like I would want my family treated. I also believe in this bible quote:

COL 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not men.”

How do you volunteer your time outside of work?
I take elderly people to their doctor visits or to get groceries.

Tell me about your family.
My husband is retired, and we have no children ourselves, but we love our many nieces and nephews.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I enjoy sewing quilts, camping, trail walking and trail biking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

What are some facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. We've seen many of the national parks in the U.S. and feel no need to travel outside this most beautiful country.
  2. I LOVE our veterans and have a soft spot for WWII vets as they fought for my freedom before I was even born. I had the honor of serving some of them as their nurse. They always amazed me because when I would thank them for serving our country, every one of them would say, “It was my pleasure.” I can now also say, “It was my pleasure and honor to serve them!”

Anything else you want to share?
I’ve been blessed to fulfill my dream of being a nurse, and my only desire each day is to give great care to my patients. To fight for someone’s life one day and to see them sitting in a chair or walking in the hall the next day is so rewarding. To see someone’s eyes open up again after a Code Blue (cardiac arrest or other critical issue) never ceases to amaze me! I’ve been able to pray with people facing death and, though they can’t talk, they squeeze my hand when I say ‘Amen.’ Physical-mental-spiritual care is the care I do my best to provide.

Dawn Cook, MSN, RN, ONC - 41 Years
Cardiology Anticoagulation Therapy (CAT) Clinic

Photo of Dawn Cook at St. Luke's CAT Clinic

Year started at St. Luke’s:
I started as a nursing tech in 1980, while I was a senior at St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing.

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
I have an Orthopedic Nurse Certification (ONC) and worked in orthopedics at St. Luke’s for 37 years before joining the CAT Clinic. I received my BSN degree in 2017 and my MSN in 2019, both from Mount Mercy University. In 2021, I earned an Anticoagulation Therapy Management Program Certificate online from the University of Southern Indiana. I’m also a CPR instructor, and I formerly taught Total Joint Patient Education at St. Luke’s Total Joint Academy, to patients scheduled for joint replacement surgery.

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I’ve always enjoyed taking care of people. I had wanted to be a nurse since I was six years old. My grandmother was a nurse in the 1920s, and my aunt was a nurse in the 1950s, so I followed in their footsteps.

Why cardiology patients?
After my time in orthopedics, I was drawn to the anticoagulation clinic because it’s so important to assist the cardiac patients, and other types of patients who are at high risk for clots, with managing their anticoagulation therapy. Many of the orthopedic patients need anticoagulation after injuries or surgeries, so I had some experience with this.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I’ve always been connected to St. Luke’s – I was born here and went to nursing school here. St. Luke’s was my family’s hospital for surgeries and illnesses as I was growing up. Working here was the next natural step.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
In 2015, I received the Keech Scholarship, which was monumental in helping me pursue my BSN. (The Keech Scholarship is an annual, St. Luke’s Foundation-awarded scholarship for Mount Mercy University’s accelerated RN to BSN program.)  

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
Patients really trust their care providers (techs, nurses, physicians, etc.) in giving them the best care possible.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
Our anticoagulation team is outstanding. Our patients on warfarin are above the national average for having their INR (a lab value that measures the effectiveness of the medication) goal in therapeutic range. This is a great marker in showing how well our team manages our patients’ anticoagulation therapy.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
To give the healthcare we’d like our loved ones to receive.

How do you use your skills outside of work?
Over the years I have volunteered at the Community Health Free Clinic. I also taught labs and clinicals to nursing students at Mount Mercy University in 2017 and 2018.

Photo of Dawn Cook with her boyfriend, Dan
Dawn Cook and her boyfriend, Dan.

Tell me about your family.
I have been widowed for almost 12 years; my husband, Doug, died in December 2009 of a subdural hematoma, after a fall. My boyfriend, Dan, who lives in Brighton, Iowa, is a semi-retired carpenter/contractor. We met a year-and-a-half ago on Match.com. He has been a great help repairing my roof and ceilings after damage from the Derecho. Dan has four boys who are grown up. I don’t have children, but I have a dog, Maverick (half Blue Heeler and half Akita) that keeps me hoppin’.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I enjoy flower gardening, photography, biking, kayaking, traveling and listening to outdoor bands in the summer. I also like singing karaoke, although I haven’t been able to do that since COVID.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. I have a German “daughter,” Marleen, who lives in Berlin. She was my foreign exchange student in 1996 and 1997, when she was age 16/17. We have been very close. She has come to visit me several times, and I was able to visit her in Germany in 2012. She tours her country and other countries as a lead singer in for the band “Bonsai Kitten” and they have cut several albums.

  2. I won second place (out of 56 people) in a karaoke contest at Longbranch in Marion in 2016.

  3. I am like a “Weird Al Yankovik” – I have written my own lyrics to about 17 known tunes for friends, family, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. I have also performed these songs to my family and friends.

Jessica Whitehill, RN, BSN, BS - 9 Years
Open Heart Surgery Team

Photo of Jessica Whitehill in St. Luke's OR

Year started at St. Luke’s:
2012

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR)

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
A cardiac scare with my mother is what prompted me to become a nurse. She had an aortic dissection (tear in the inner layer of the body’s main artery – the aorta).

Why cardiology patients?
I chose this specialty because of what happened with my mom, and I feel like I am saving lives.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I have always preferred St. Luke’s – I was born here, too!

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
There are two things I’m proud of – earning my BSN and becoming team lead on the cardiothoracic and vascular team.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
Working with patients has taught me that life is very precious, and the general public puts all their trust in us.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
St. Luke’s heart care stands out because of all our specialty teams.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
St. Luke’s mission is what I live by – treating patients like we’d like our loved ones to be treated.

Photo of Jessica Whitehill on the beach with her family
Jessica Whitehill and her husband, Tyson, were married in Punta Cana this summer (2021), and Jessica became stepmom to Baylee and Lexee.
Tell me about your family.

I just got married in Punta Cana, which made me a stepmom to two children. We also have two dogs and a cat.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I enjoy reading, biking, playing volleyball, camping, traveling and taking naps.

What are a couple of fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. I have a motorcycle license.
  2. I left the country for the first time in 2021.

Carla Huber, RN, ARNP - 42 Years
Cardiology Anticoagulation Therapy (CAT) Clinic

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Year started at St. Luke’s:
1979

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
I completed the Anticoagulation Certification Program through University of Southern Indiana in 2005. (Anticoagulation Therapy involves closely monitoring patients who are on anticoagulant medications, which are used to reduce the body’s ability to form of blood clots.)

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I was always interested in anatomy and grew up helping our veterinarian when he treated animals on my family’s farm. I wanted to continue this interest with people.

Why cardiology patients?
I chose to work in heart care because everything is “connected” to the heart, the body’s pump. There’s never a dull moment.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
I am most proud of being able to work with our team of dedicated, experienced staff.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
We need to listen to patients, because they know their bodies best.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
St. Luke’s experienced cardiologists is what makes us stand out.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
I believe in our mission – to give the care I want my loved ones to receive.

How do you use your skills outside of work?
I volunteer at my church and the local opera house. I hope to be able to volunteer at the Community Health Free Clinic one day.

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Carla Huber and her husband of 31 years, Dan, are pictured on Trestle Trail Bridge in Madrid, Iowa, during a nighttime bike ride.

Tell me about your family. 
I’ve been married for 31 years, and my parents have been married for 63 years. I have one brother and three sisters, one of which is a nurse, and all of them live nearby. Between them, I have 21 nieces and nephews.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I’m an avid biker and have rode on RAGBRAI eight times. I also enjoy hiking, traveling and spending time at our home in Arizona.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. I grew up on a farm
  2. I love to be outdoors, especially riding my bike
  3. One of my favorite sayings is “It’s all about the food.” I enjoy visiting family-owned, out-of-the-way restaurants.

Nicholas Hughes, RN, CRRN - 17 Years
Intensive Care Unit

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Year started at St. Luke’s
2004

What advanced training do you have or are going to receive?
I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), have completed my Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), and will soon be studying for my Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN) specialization.

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I enjoy knowing the science/pathophysiology of the human body, while at the same time experiencing and seeing patients respond to the medical treatment we provide.

Why heart patients?
The “pump” (heart) is very important. Not only does it keep our blood moving, it also responds to different injuries and disease processes. Being able to directly care for those who need help with their heart is rewarding.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
St. Luke’s has been my only place of employment. I started here when I was 16, in food service, then became interested in becoming a Patient Care Technician (PCT). After that, I studied to be a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and eventually a Registered Nurse (RN).

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
Surviving the COVID-19 crisis with my ICU family.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
When educating patients and family members, I try to relate to something they can understand. Education is not just about life after discharge. It’s important during difficult times, such as making an end-of-life decision. I’ve also learned that transparency is very important and appreciated, and honesty mixed with empathy is much more impactful.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
Our tenure – 40+ years says it all. We have developed and continuously provide a more efficient and impactful patient experience.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
Care is beyond just doing a job – it’s an experience!

How do you use your skills outside of work? (Committees, Volunteering, Mission Trips, etc.)
I’m always an RN. Wherever my skills are needed, I’m there, whether it’s within my neighborhood or on my Overlanding (off-road/off-the-grid) trips. I believe it’s always important to care for the people around you.

Tell me about your family:
I am the eldest of two; my brother and I are 10 months apart. We have always been close with each other and our parents. My mother is an outreach RN with UnityPoint Health, and my father is the director of engineering at Evergreen. I have been married to my wife for eight years, and we have an eight-year-old black lab named Hue (the greatest dog ever!). We are a clan, and everyone is welcome to join. We have many friends who are actually more like family, and we are always up for adventure. This August, we are returning to Alaska!

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
Travel, hunt and go Overlanding – extended vehicle travel and reliance. Much of it is off-road and off-the-grid for days at a time. Nothing is left behind; you take everything with you.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. I am a cancer survivor
  2. I am the husband to the greatest woman in the universe (she recently received her master’s degree)
  3. I am a pretty big nerd. I love the Wheel of Time book series, Dungeons and Dragons, and fantasy/science fiction

Anything else you want to share?
I would not be the man I am today without my family, wife and coworkers.

Donna Prier, RN, CCRN - 41 Years
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CCU)

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Year started at St. Luke’s:
1980

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
At the age of 16, I fell while riding my bike. I was taken to the ER, and I’ll never forget how kind and caring the nurses and doctors were.

Why cardiology patients?
I love the variety of patients in the Intensive Care Unit. It is very gratifying to care for patients and their families during some critical moments in their lives.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I went to school at St. Luke’s School of Nursing and enjoyed my experience, so I decided to stay with St. Luke’s Hospital!

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
Being honored as a Top 100 Nurse for the State of Iowa in 2016.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
All patients have a story to tell, and I’ve learned so much about life through their experiences, interests and families.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
Our team is very compassionate with the care they give, and we are eager to learn new therapies to improve patient outcomes. We all desire the best for our patients and families.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
Patience, compassion, honesty and communication. Everyone has a story and I enjoy hearing all of them.

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN). I’m also trained on intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) and Impella. IABP is a device that helps perfuse and strengthen the heart. Impella, known as the “world’s smallest heart pump,” assists the heart when it is too weak to pump on its own.

How do you use your skills outside of work?
Here at St. Luke’s, I am a Chain of Response in Emergencies (CORE) Instructor for responding to emergencies and cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). I’m also a Basic Life Support (BLS) Instructor. Outside of work, I am involved with various committees at my church. I also visit shut-ins in the community and volunteer twice a month with Second Helping Meals, an organization in Manchester that provides socialization and a good meal to anyone who wants one.

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(L-R) Donna's son-in-law Jason and daughter Melissa Coulter (holding Bently); daughter Holly; mother-in-law Eunice; son Clinton; Donna and husband Lial.
(Photo: Stacey Ryan)

Tell me about your family.
My husband, Lial, and I have been married for 36 years. We have three children: Our daughter, Melissa Coulter, is married to Jason and is a hematology and oncology nurse practitioner at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. Another daughter, Holly, is engaged to Ben and is a band director at Clear Lake High School. Our son, Clinton (significant other, Kenzie), works as an engineer in West Des Moines.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I enjoy walking, biking, baking and reading, as well as spending time with family. We are also Iowa State Cyclones and St. Louis Cardinals fans.

Name a fun fact about yourself? (Something people would be surprised to know about you, or something you are particularly proud of in your life)
My sister Karla, my husband and I took over possession of our family farm near Holy Cross, Iowa. It has been in our family since 1892!

Steph Justice, RN, BSN, PCCN - 13 Years
Telemetry (4 West)

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Year started at St. Luke’s:
2008

What advanced training do you have or are you pursuing?
I received my PCCN (Progressive Care Certified Nurse) in 2013. I also have experience with femoral arterial and venous lines post-procedure, bedside cardioversions (restoring normal heart rhythms when a patient is experiencing an abnormal heart beat), as well as initiating and managing fem-stops for groin hematomas (applying compressions for bleeding that can occur at a catheterization site).

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I received my CNA certification my junior year of high school and really enjoyed working in a hospital. I also loved the science behind nursing. So, I decided to pursue this field when I graduated from high school.

Why cardiology patients?
I have cared for heart patients my entire nursing career (about 21 years). What I love about cardiology/stepdown patients is the acuity required to perform my job. (Stepdown patients are those who had been receiving intensive care but no longer need full intensive care services.)

Heart patients often have complex cases and require close observation and critical thinking. I need to manage multiple IV infusions that can cause blood pressure, heart rate and other symptoms to fluctuate. That’s important because a patient’s condition can change in an instant.

My dad had viral cardiomyopathy (chronic heart disease) for eight years and was on a transplant list until he eventually needed an emergent LVAD (left ventricular assist device). He died four months later at the age of 56. I was in my junior year of nursing school at the time. Thinking back, his illness may have been what led me to this field of care. If I had the knowledge then, I may have been able to help him, my mom and my family cope with and understand what he was going through.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I wanted to work for St. Luke’s because of what it offers patients. St Luke’s has always had state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Our physicians are up-to-date with the latest medications, treatments and procedures and are able to offer them locally to our patients.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
One of the best things I’ve been involved with at St Luke’s is the summer intern program. I’ve worked with summer interns for the last five years and counting. I love being able to see them graduate from nursing school and become successful surgical, telemetry, NICU and ICU nurses, as well as become charge nurses. One even received a DAISY award! (An award that recognizes nursing excellence.) Knowing I had a small part in molding them into the nurses they are today is very rewarding, and I’ve kept in touch with all of them over the years.

I’m also very proud to be part of the St. Luke’s code team (team of providers who respond to critical care emergencies to begin resuscitation). It feels good to contribute your critical thinking and emergency response skills to give someone every possible chance of survival.

What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
One of things I’ve learned over the years, both as a nurse and having parents with chronic health issues, is to listen closely to patients and their families – to hear what they are telling you about themselves and their previous experiences. I also try to remember every person is different, and never assume they have had things fully explained to them. There have been numerous times when patients have thanked me for putting everything together for them and explaining things in ways they can understand.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
We offer cutting-edge treatments, procedures and new technologies that give our patients the ability to stay in Cedar Rapids for their care – from the new Shockwave procedure for coronary artery disease, Watchman devices and ablations to TAVR, MitraClip and more. Plus, some of our cardiologists have been practicing in Cedar Rapids for more than 20 years, so they’ve developed personal relationships with patients. In addition, our staff is well-trained on how to care for the different cardiac populations and procedures, and because of the outstanding care we provide, the clinicians trust us and our judgement when caring for their patients.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
"Give the healthcare you’d like your loved ones to receive." Both of my parents needed health care before their deaths, so I can relate to patients’ experiences. I try to use this in my nursing practice every single shift. One of the biggest things I do is advocate for patients. I have done this for my mom and husband, but not everyone has someone to do that or even knows what they need or want at the time.

How do you use your skills outside of work?
I teach three classes here at St Luke’s: Basic Dysrhythmia Recognition class since 2015, which is offered five times per year; along with Temporary Cardiac Pacing and Rhythms 2.0 since 2019, both of which are offered three times per year. I also taught EPIC, our computer charting system, to new nurses as a Credentialed Trainer from 2017-2019 and went to other UnityPoint Health hospitals to help with EPIC training from 2012-2019.

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Steph Justice and her husband Ryan both work at St. Luke's on 4 West (Telemetry).

Tell me about your family.
My husband Ryan and I live in Vinton, Iowa, where I was born and raised and have lived my whole life. We have three dogs who are our babies: Stella, Sammie and Sheldon. My husband also works on 4 West as a patient care tech and monitor tech watching patients’ heart rhythms throughout the hospital.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I’m very social. My husband and I especially love to entertain at our house and cook for friends and family. We host a 4 West gathering at least once a year. I enjoy TV, movies, trivia, games and audiobooks. I also love going to concerts – there’s nothing like seeing your favorite performer live and in person! My husband and I enjoy fishing, and we are especially looking forward to travelling again, now that some of the COVID limitations are being lifted.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)

  1. I’m a huge Star Wars fan.

  2. I am a big advocate for autism awareness! I have an eight-year-old cousin who is autistic. I was in the room when he was born and have been very involved in his life and helping to raise him. We have seen the most amazing progress with him in large part since he started school. He went from being nonverbal to now singing at the top of his lungs or talking nonstop. We get such joy out of watching his progress.

  3. My mom, aunt and I took a trip to Greece (my dad was Greek) and Turkey, and we arrived back in Cedar Rapids on the evening of Sept 10, 2001. We were unpacking the next morning when we saw the planes attack the Twin Towers on TV and were beyond thankful that we got home when we did. We found out later that there was a suicide bomber in the square across from the hotel where we stayed in Turkey, and some of the people we met on our trip had to stay over there for an extended period of time and had trouble getting back to the U.S.

Amy Frazier, RN, BSN, CCRN - 42 Years
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Photo of Amy Frazier at St. Luke's Cardiac ICU

Year started at St. Luke’s:
1979

What advanced training do you have or are you going to get? 
I am a Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN).

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?  
I liked the idea of a job that could help people.

Why ICU patients? 
I enjoy the challenge of caring for very sick patients with the assistance of advanced medical technologies.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s? 
I was first hired in the summer of 1979 – the first summer that the ICU hired nursing techs. I liked my job, the hospital and the people I worked with. I was offered a full-time position in the ICU the following year, after graduating from nursing school as an RN.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s? 
One of my proudest moments was seeing a patient several years after I cared for him. He still remembered me and was so thankful for the care he received.

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(Above and below) Cardiac ICU Nurse Amy Frazier enjoys the antics of her grandchildren.

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What’s the biggest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you? 
They teach me to try to be appreciative of so many things, big and small. They’ve shown perseverance in the face of adversity, and I’ve learned the importance of supportive loved ones.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out, particularly in terms of ICU and heart care? 
We have amazing medical, nursing and ancillary staff. We also have the most advanced, innovative technology, and we are focused on giving the very best care.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
Caring for patients and their families as I would like my own family members to be cared for.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun? 
I have been blessed with a WONDERFUL family all my life, and now I’m enjoying the antics of my grandchildren!

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life).
1) I have a soft spot for animals.
2) I spend too much money on flowers, plants and animals.
3) I strive to be organized at home, but never seem to get there!

Pam Burrack, RN, BSN, WTA-C - 25 Years
Telemetry (4 West)

Photo of Pam Burrack

Year started at St. Luke’s:
1996

What advanced training do you have or are going to get?
I am a WTA-C, Certified Wound Treatment Associate, which means I have extra training in skin/wound care. I am used as a resource on my unit and assist wound nurses on an as-needed basis.

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I worked in a chiropractic office doing filing when I was in high school. One of the patients came in and didn’t feel well. The nurse in the office asked for a blood pressure cuff, and I felt unsure and unprepared to handle that situation, or any sort of an emergency. It was that moment I decided I didn’t want to feel that way again and chose to become a nurse.

Why cardiology patients?
The heart has always truly fascinated me. I was introduced to the medical telemetry unit at another hospital during a preceptorship. Then, my leadership preceptorship was here at St. Luke’s with Mary McDade (retired nurse manager) in Telemetry. I really enjoyed working with her – she inspired me to apply. The rest is history.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
I really appreciate when families/patients thank me for caring for them – that makes me proud. I especially like it when patients come back to say “Hi!” when they are “all better.” It feels good to be part of those success stories.

What’s the most important thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
I’ve learned everyone is different. No one responds to the same situation in the same way, and you have to understand and adapt to that. You need to work with and for the patient to give them the best care and outcome every time. You must meet them where they are at, not where you want them to be or where you think they should be. Sometimes they take big steps forward and sometimes they only take baby steps, and that’s OK.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
Two major things stand out – experience and teamwork. St. Luke’s has been in the “heart business” for DECADES. There’s something to be said about that when it comes to experience. We change with the times and are always updating. While we’ve been around for a long time, we are innovative and lead the way with advanced procedures.

We also work together for the patients. On 4 West, we’re not just a team, we’re a family, too. My dad has been a patient at St. Luke’s (and on my floor) several times, and he gets great care here, not just because people know he’s my dad, but because that’s what they do. I feel assured my dad will be treated like my co-worker’s dad (or grandpa, given the age difference between myself and my co-workers!).

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
I believe in our Mission Statement: To give the care we would want our loved ones to receive. Everyone is someone’s loved one. I want my loved ones to get the best care ever, no less. I approach my patient care the same way, by treating people as my loved ones.

How do you use your skills outside of work? (Committees, Volunteering, Mission Trips, etc.):
I spent a lot of my time volunteering in my sons’ elementary school while they were younger. Now that they are older, I spend time co-leading my ladies’ bible study. I am the co-chair of the Patient Family Experience Committee at St. Luke’s, as well as a member of our Professional Practice Steering and Patient Care Excellence Award Selection Committees. In addition, I help the wound nurses with their quarterly pressure injury survey, and I teach CPR in the hospital at least four times per year.

Tell me about your family:
I am married to Rich, and we are celebrating 21 years together in June (2021). I have two sons: Ryan is 20 and will be a junior at UNI this fall, where he’s majoring in music education. Ian is 16 and is finishing his sophomore year at Kennedy High School here in Cedar Rapids. When he graduates, he wants to go to Maine to study marine biology.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I like to sew and am currently making a quilt for Ryan. I plan to make one for Ian when Ryan’s is (ever) finished. I also like to cross stitch, make greeting cards and read. I enjoy cooking and baking and am always looking for new recipes to try. I love to spend time with my family and friends. I also really love going for walks with my husband.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)
1) I’m a Trekkie (not a die-hard Trekkie, but I love Star Trek, none the less… the original series will always be my favorite).

2) I love to read and historical fiction, mysteries and science fiction are some of my favorites. I especially I love stories about Henry the VIII (and actually know quite a bit about him and his wives). As far as mysteries, medical-based stories are at the top of my list. Robin Cook (“Coma”) is one of my favorite authors.

3) I play Dungeons and Dragons with my sons. I’m currently a level 8 Paladin Knight. I also play computer/video games (Minecraft anyone?), board games and card games with them. Again, it’s all about meeting them where they’re at. And it’s fun! I have a better relationship with my boys because of it.

Anything else you want to share?
I love to laugh, and people have told me I have a great sense of humor.

Julie McNeal, RN, BSN, CRRN - 30 Years
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CCU)

Photo of Julie

Year started at St. Luke’s:
1991

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse? 
I was a candy-striper when I was 13 and wanted to be a nurse ever since.

Why ICU patients?
I like the complexity and challenge of critical care. I do a lot of critical thinking and enjoy taking care of acute patients, as well as the diversity of patient cases. 

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s?
I worked at St. Luke’s as a senior in high school through a school program. Although I moved away after graduating from college, I returned to Cedar Rapids to raise my family and came back to St. Luke’s because it feels like home. After working in multiple hospitals on the east coast, I know the culture here is the best.

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
During the flood of 2008, we were the only hospital open. St. Luke’s took on the challenge and met the needs of our community, as well as its staff and employees.

What’s the largest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
My patients make me feel grateful every day that I and my family are healthy and that everyone has something going on.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out, particularly in terms of ICU and heart care?
We have always had a successful open-heart program, and our physicians are progressive in bringing in new technology for our patients all the time. I love that our heart care is always growing and doing new things.

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
I fully believe in our mission statement: To give the healthcare we’d like our loved ones to receive. I live by those words, and I know others do too because some of my family members have been patients and received excellent care.

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 Julie McNeal (left) and her daughter Amanda
What would you like to share about your family?
I have two daughters. My oldest, Amanda, is a nurse and night house supervisor here at St. Luke’s. My youngest, Brooke, is a nursing student at the University of Iowa. So, you could say nursing runs in the family. I also have a black lab named Bleu and a cat named Lola.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I love to cook, read, travel and spend time with my friends and family.

What are some fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life.)

  • I’ve worked at 8 different hospitals while moving around early in my career.
  • I’ve been at St. Luke’s for 30 years.

Anything else you want to share?
I’ve enjoyed working at a lot of other hospitals in different states, but I love St. Luke’s and my job here. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather work.

Special Certifications: 

  • Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) – a device that helps the heart pump more blood
  • Impella – the “world’s smallest heart pump,” which is used to open blockages in heart arteries and allows doctors to place stents
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) – a minimally invasive procedure using a catheter to replace an aortic valve
  • Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) – a specialized dialysis therapy for critically ill patients that runs 24 hours a day
  • Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) – an advanced life-support therapy for patients experiencing acute cardiac and/or respiratory failure

Jennie Shanklin, MSN, RN - 32 Years
Cardiopulmonary Rehab

nullSpecial Certifications:
Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA)

Year started at St. Luke’s:
1988

What led you to pursue a career as a nurse?
I have a degree in Health & Human Services from Montana State University. When I moved back home to Iowa, I wanted to increase my healthcare/medical knowledge. I looked into nursing and it was a good fit. Also, my mom is also a nurse, so I grew up knowing a little about nursing.

Why cardiology patients?
I have worked in a few different departments at St. Luke’s, all of which involved some aspect of care for cardiac patients. They have all been interesting. With my mom being an outstanding cardiac nurse, we had a lot of “heart” discussions at the dinner table.

Why did you choose to work at St. Luke’s? 
I was born at St. Luke’s, my mom spent her nursing career (50 years) at St. Luke’s, and I have worked here since high school. I was familiar with it. I stay with St. Luke’s because I have always been treated fairly; they have been supportive of my career; and I’ve been able to adjust my work schedule according to what stage of life I’m in (part time, full time, raising kids, etc.).

What’s your proudest moment at St. Luke’s?
On a personal note - the birth of my two sons here. At work in cardiac rehab, a lot of our patients are grateful and appreciative of the program. I think I’m most proud when they make progress and improve.

What’s the largest thing you learned from caring for patients?  What do our patients teach you?
They've taught me that everyone has their own story - that they are individuals who deal with their diagnoses in their own ways. It's important to try and meet the patient “where they are at” in their recovery process and help them progress.

What makes St. Luke’s stand out in terms of heart care and other services?
St. Luke's is progressive, highly rated and committed to excellence. A quality heart care program is essential from start to finish (ED to Cardiac Rehab).

What are words you live by as a St. Luke’s team member?
Patient Advocacy! I treat every patient as I would want to be treated.

How do you use your skills outside of work? 
In the past I have helped with blood pressure checks at church. 

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Jennie Shanklin (center left) and her husband of 30 years, Jim, are flanked by their sons and daughters-in-law. Matt and Kelsey are on their left, while Nick and Lily are on their right.

What would you like to share about your family:
My husband Jim and I have been married for 30 years. We have two sons: Matt is married to Kelsey, and they have two dogs (Roo and Gus). Nick is married to Lily, and they have a cat, Murphy, and a dog, Whidbey.

What do you like to do in your free time/for fun?
I like to travel, visit our boys, bike, walk, boat, read, book club, paint. I also tried snowshoeing this winter.

What are three fun facts about yourself? (Things people would be surprised to know about you, or things you are particularly proud of in your life)
  1. I worked at St. Luke’s when I was in high school. I helped in central supply (called Central Service back then)
  2. I’ve been to the Island of St. Lucia twice.
  3. I’ve worked on 3 West, Surgicare and Cardiopulmonary Rehab during the past 32 years.


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