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Mangrich named among ‘100 Great Iowa Nurses’

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 12:04 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, April 7, 2014 12:30 p.m. CST

Skiff Medical Center is proud to announce that chemotherapy nurse Veronica Mangrich was recently named to the list of 100 Great Iowa Nurses for 2014.  Mangrich has been employed at Skiff since 1987 and currently works in the Skiff Cancer Clinic.

Mangrich touches the lives of the many oncology patients she serves and, given her decidedly modest nature, it would likely surprise very few of them that she acknowledges the award with great humility.

“I was absolutely floored when I learned I’d been selected,” Mangrich said.  “I’ve only ever personally known two other nurses who’ve received this designation, so I didn’t think it would be given to a regular nurse like me.”

Mangrich may use a word like “regular” to describe herself, but that is not how she is regarded by her colleagues or supervisors.

“I was thrilled, but not surprised, to learn that Veronica Mangrich was selected as one of the 100 Great Iowa Nurses,” said Brett Altman, Skiff’s Chief Operating Officer.  “We continually receive compliments from patients and their families regarding the over-the-top care provided by Veronica and are very blessed to have her on our fabulous team.  Veronica epitomizes our mission by providing professionally delivered health-care services which are compassionate, personalized and highly skilled.”

“Veronica is consistently recognized by her patients as an exceptionally caring and professional nurse,” said Skiff CEO Steve Long.  “She demonstrates her commitment to our values each and every day, helping us achieve our vision of being treasured by those we serve.”

“This program truly recognizes and rewards nursing at its very best,” said Sheryl Tilus, Skiff’s Chief Nursing Officer.  “The Newton community is blessed with extraordinary nursing care every day, but even more so when representatives throughout the state of Iowa hear the story and bestow this honor to one of our own.”

“I feel this award is a reflection of the nursing environment fostered here at Skiff,” Mangrich said.  “So it is truly an award for all of us Skiff nurses. I just get to be the one who accepts it for us this time.”

Mangrich also credits Skiff for putting her in a position that allows her to “connect with people on such a special level.”

She believes the field of cancer is a unique one.  “The diagnosis of cancer was once considered to be a death certificate,” she said.  “Thanks to advances in treatment, that is no longer the case for many, but that notion is still out there.  People know that the chance of dying is there.  So my patients all have unique struggles and simply want somebody who listens.”

This closeness leads to Mangrich knowing a great deal about her patients, who can range in age from 19 to 90.  “I know which one of my patients is interested in beekeeping, for example,” she said with a laugh.  “I can ask another how progress is going on the dollhouse he’s building for his granddaughter.”

In the nomination form that was submitted for this recognition, these interpersonal skills were highlighted.  “Veronica is cognizant of the small things, sometimes those things that we take for granted.  Things such as finding the flavor of ice cream that a patient can eat, making sure a patient has enough pain medication to get through the next few days, or intuiting that a patient needs spiritual support that particular day.  For Veronica, these details are as important as the next dose of chemotherapy.  It is part of the patient’s overall health.”

Mangrich sees herself as a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  “In this setting, they can say anything.  They can ask anything.  They can cry.  I had one patient ask me very directly about death.  ‘What will it be like?’ he asked me.  ‘Will it hurt?’  He trusted me with questions like that.  Getting to know someone that intimately is a privilege.”

Her role as confidant and companion, not just chemotherapy nurse, played a significant part in Mangrich being recognized.  “Veronica is beyond accommodating to meet the needs of her patients,” the nomination form read.  “Recently she shared a story about her neighbor needing to have his chemotherapy treatment on a holiday. She volunteered to pick him up, drive him to the clinic and administer his chemotherapy on the holiday to ensure he would remain on schedule, and have an optimal outcome from the treatment. This act of kindness is not unique for Veronica. Her work schedule is based on her patients’ needs. It is not uncommon for Veronica to administer chemotherapy at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m., because that is what works the best for a patient’s schedule.”

Mangrich is quick to say that she cannot take sole credit for the work she does.  She emphasizes that the establishment of the Skiff Cancer Clinic a few years ago was highly beneficial to local cancer patients.

“This arrangement allows patients to have privacy if they want it or to be with others who are facing a similar situation,” she said.  “Not only do they not have to drive all the way to Des Moines for treatment, they barely have to walk more than 20 steps from the edge of the parking lot to our waiting area.  They can register here, the lab techs come right here for blood draws, we have volunteers who can take them to the Philips Imaging Center at Skiff if scans are needed.  I have all sorts of caregivers here I can rely on to help me provide the best possible service to my patients.  This is so perfect.”

In addition to crediting Skiff as a whole, Mangrich expresses her appreciation to those she has learned from along the way.  “I am what I am because of mentors – doctors and, importantly, other nurses.  There are many, many, many good nurses who deserve this.  I see this as an award for anyone who has ever helped me.”

A public open house for Mangrich will be held in mid-May, with date and time to be announced.

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