Sister ensures excellence as nurse

Nurses Week May 6-12 honors healers

CEDAR RAPIDS — Hands-on, compas­sionate nursing care — from checking blood pressures and establishing best practices to comforting the dying — is a core mission of the Sisters of Mercy.

The Sisters of Mercy have been nurses since their founder Catherine McAuley identified caring for the sick as a major focus of the new community in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831. The only trained nurses in the American Civil War were women religious, 100 of them Sisters of Mercy. Mercy sisters served in the Spanish American War. They still serve to heal the sick.

They built hospitals across the U.S. beginning in 1847 with the founding of the first Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and eventually totaling 85. The Sisters have served in every capacity from bedside nurses and doctors to CEOs, CFOs and trustees in hospitals and health systems as well as in public health and community-based settings.

Ensuring clinical excellence in critical care nursing has been the passion of Sister Maurita Soukup, who began her nursing career in 1964 at Mercy Hospital, now Medical Center, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since then her life’s ministry has been dedicated to clinical excellence for the critically ill patient, family and the multidisciplinary colleagues engaged in their care. As a bedside critical care nurse and then a clinical nurse specialist in cardiovascular nursing, she says Catherine McAuley’s gift of “careful nursing” which involves competence, care and compassionate presence, has guided her throughout her 52 years of nursing.

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