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Revealing an inner spark



A painting hangs on the wall of Sanford Children’s Specialty Clinic in Sioux Falls. It can only be seen by patients and staff of the infusion center. The picture by Hector Curriel shows sick children walking through a park and over a bridge. When they look down into the water at their reflections, they see themselves as happy and healthy and playful. For Sanford Health employee Sarah Prenger, this painting explains perfectly what sparks her energy on a daily basis. “Children are the reason I do my job,” says Prenger. “I was put here to do anything in my power to help children become who they are in their own minds: healthy and happy.”

Like Prenger, each member of the Sanford Health family has an energy that drives them daily. Whether they are at the bedside or behind the scenes they have dedicated themselves to patient care.

Sanford wanted to learn more. Wanted to uncover those inner sparks and celebrate them. What was discovered was inspiring.

As the regional director of clinic operations for Maybille, Hillsboro, Halstad and Twin Valley Clinics, the majority of Mark Duncan’s patients are over the age of 65. He says he finds energy in having a “friendly conversation” with one of the clinic’s elderly patients. He says “it doesn’t take long to realize their confusion and frustration with health care today. If I’m able to greet them with a warm smile, help with questions or guide them through a difficult situation, we all benefit.”

Lori Eidenschink knows the feeling. She is a case management social worker at Sanford Broadway Clinic in Fargo. Her job is all about helping people during times of transition whether it be bringing a new baby home or learning of a cancer diagnosis. “I feel honored to be allowed into the lives of these families,” she says. “Some transitions are heart breaking, while others are full of joy. I learn and receive so much from the patients and families I journey with.”

For Amy Osborne, LPN, it’s all about the patients too. When she worked in family practice, the nurse was sparked by holding the hand of a young child. “When I was in hospice,” she adds, “It was the final moments with the patient and the family. The thanks and the hugs from the family that we were there for them through the dying process.” Now that she’s with Women’s Health, she says she finds her spark in her team and caring for the women of the Sioux Falls region.

When Elizabeth Ugelstad’s grandmother was the patient, that’s when she found her spark. In 2008 Ugelstad’s grandmother was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). “During the last 10 months of her life, she spent a lot of time on the oncology unit at Sanford in Fargo,” says Ugelstad. It was during that time she decided she wanted to be a nurse. “I wanted to help people like my grandma,” she says. This summer, as a third year nursing student, Ugelstad chose the oncology unit to be a nurse co-op. “My grandma would be happy about this. Every day I come to work so I can make a difference in the lives of patients like my grandma,” she adds. “It’s people like my grandma that spark my desire to be a nurse.”

Brady Carda wants to make a difference too. At Sanford Aberdeen Family Medicine Carda helps people take control of their health and their lives. Carda says, “when I follow up with a patient I have been working with and they feel so much better that they can quit smoking, no verbal ‘thank you’ can match the ‘thank you’ I see on their face. It’s so rewarding.”

A job well done deserves an inspiring word according to Bill Schuler, MD. When Dr. Schuler was in his Emergency Medicine residency they used a term for really exceptional cases. He explains, they’re the kind of case when they don’t know whether the outcome will be good or bad. “When we’d turn around and see that things were going great, we’d say the case was ‘schwoomazing’.” It’s a term Dr. Schuler brought with him to the emergency department in Bemidji. “It’s taken off here as well,” he says. “It takes that feeling of a job well done to the next level. Plus it’s just fun to say.”

The next time you walk through one of the Sanford Health doors. When someone answers your questions or gives you direction. The nurse that walks you through a procedure. Or the doctor that gives your child a sticker after that oh-so-painful shot. Know that there is a spark that brought them to you. Something they hope to share with each patient. Each day.

Posted Date: August 2012

Revealing an inner spark

Find out what sparks the energy of Sanford Health employees