I will begin this letter by reminding my many friends and colleagues in the Clinton area that my husband and I moved to Iowa City a little over a year ago. You might wonder why I’m writing a letter about a linear accelerator campaign at Mercy Medical Center – Clinton. Let’s clear up that question. Many of you know that I was employed at Mercy Medical Center for many, many years in the Nursing Department. The Mercy Hospital employees have been good to me and I’d like to do something positive in return for Mercy and the patients who are treated at this very special healthcare facility in Clinton.
Those of you who know me are aware that my heart and concerns will forever be with Mercy Medical Center — Clinton.
Mercy Medical Center — Clinton is currently on a campaign to seek funding for a new linear accelerator for the Radiation Oncology Unit. This campaign is based on the need to upgrade the current linear unit, which is nearing the end of its life.
For those of you who don’t know what a linear accelerator is used for, I would offer my “congratulations.” This letter is directed to those of you who know personally, or through a loved one’s or friend’s diagnosis, that a linear accelerator is often a major component in the treatment of cancer. As I look back at a long career in nursing and the patients and families I’ve been fortunate to meet, I doubt that any of you fall in the first category above. Rather, because Clinton and the surrounding area’s rate of cancer deaths is higher than the Iowa average, with our breast cancer incidents exceeding the national average, cancer seems to touch every one of our friends and family who live in the Clinton beltway.
To replace the current linear accelerator, Mercy launched a $2 million communitywide capital campaign titled “A Thousand Reasons Why.” The first pledge was for a very generous commitment of $500,000 from the Clinton County Development Association; however, the grant criteria requires that we reach our $2 million community campaign goal in order to secure payment. Additionally, the wonderful, giving members of Mercy Auxiliary committed $200,000. All of the folks associated with these two organizations are your neighbors and they are working diligently to secure funds so that if you or a loved one need treatment for cancer, you can stay at home, literally in your own back yard, and receive treatment.
You and/or your family member can travel the short distance to the Mercy Oncology Unit for treatment, avoid traveling 50 to 100 miles for the frequent treatments and generally live life as usual, while undergoing treatment for a life-threatening disease. This opportunity for local treatment is priceless.
The level of care and treatment in the Mercy Radiation Oncology by the staff and Dr. Mark Dion is world-class; however, they are working with a machine that is approximately 13 years old, which is functional at this point in time, but needs to be replaced.
About a year ago, Sean Williams, CEO, suggested that I might be a candidate for membership on the Mercy Board of Trustees. I gladly accepted this position and began serving on the board this year. I also serve as an Honorary Chair for the community campaign, along with Wilma Clark, Dr. Mark Dion, Dr. Jeffrey Hallman, Tom Hesselman and David Sivright. You see, even though my husband and I now live in Iowa City, I remain committed to Mercy Medical Center.
Having said all of this, I’m making a plea from my heart to you to reach into your wallets and donate as much as you can manage toward the campaign. Please know that your gift will touch countless area residents for many years to come. I would challenge each of you to take a look at your family and friends — can you identify anyone you know or love that isn’t touched by cancer in one way or another? Don’t you want the best for your loved one or special neighbor?
My husband and I will join you in contributing to this worthwhile campaign.
Ruthann Papke, MSN, NEA-BC,