Published on May 05, 2014

Two Pella Regional Nurses Honored as 100 Great Iowa Nurses

Mark Orr and Mary Jo Van RoekelPELLA, Iowa— Pella Regional Health Center is proud to announce that two nurses were selected as 100 Great Iowa Nurses for 2014:

  • Mark Orr, RN, Home Health and Hospice
  • Mary Jo Van Roekel, Medical Clinics in Knoxville and Monroe and Infusion Center

Since 2005, nearly 20 Pella Regional nurses have received this honor. Orr, Van Roekel and the other 2014 honorees gathered on Sunday, May 4 at the beginning of Nurses Week in Des Moines with their family, friends and colleagues, as well as past recipients, to be recognized for their outstanding careers and achievements.

Mark Orr and Mary Jo FosterThe following are excerpts from Mark Orr’s nomination:

Mark Orr is a very exceptional individual. As a young man growing up he worked with his parents providing care to seniors at Marion County Care Facility.  The value of serving others became embedded in him at a young age.

Mark is a servant leader in his role as a professional nurse. He continually goes above and beyond to provide his patients exceptional care. He has a unique ability to anticipate the needs of his patients which gives them comfort in knowing that their needs will be met today, tomorrow and in the future.

Mark served as a mentor to a student nurse while he was a hospice staff nurse at Pella Regional. The student shadowed Mark while he delivered end-of-life care to home hospice patients in our community. After graduation, the student was inspired to become a hospice nurse. Mark also mentored another student who now works as a case manager in the hospital who stated she felt Mark helped her gain confidence and experience.

Mark received Pella Regional’s Daisy Award in May 2013. A family member nominated Mark stating: “Mark is a very gentle, kind, caring man who helped us through a traumatic and emotional time. With cancer, no one ever wants to level with you and really say it like it is. Everyone spends a lot of time avoiding the issue or just not talking about it. We really just wanted answers and guidance on what to expect and when. Mark did this for me so I could then help my mom, brothers and sisters. Mark was available at any time, made stops at the house after hours to bring medications, and arranged for equipment so we did not have to deal with it. Mark was also there for all of the details when my dad passed. The gentle soul that Mark possesses helped me to deal with being both the caretaker-nurse and daughter while my Dad ended his battle. He told us how amazed he was with the care our family provided for Dad at home, and that we should feel contented to know that Dad died surrounded by family that obviously loved him. Those words provided solace for my Mother as well. She still remarks on how wonderful Mark Orr was and repeats his words as validation that Dad passed as he would have liked and that gives her some peace.”

Mary Jo Van Roekel and Bridget DrafahlThe following are excerpts from Mary Jo Van Roekel’s nomination:

Mary Jo Van Roekel has been a registered nurse for 29 years. During that time she has practiced in many areas of nursing, including medical/surgical and intensive care nursing. Mary Jo was instrumental in getting oncology into the Visiting Specialty Clinic at Pella Regional on a regular basis. Patients from the area have no need to travel to Des Moines to see an oncologist or to receive chemotherapy.

A former patient’s relative gives this testimonial to Mary Jo’s care and concern for humanity: “Mary Jo Van Roekel left a lasting impression on me and my husband during a critical time in his cancer treatment. Pete had to come in weekly for his chemotherapy. Sometimes the treatment would take longer due to his need for additional fluids or changes in the medication he was receiving. Rather than hand him off to another nurse late in the day, Mary Jo would stay with him promising continuity in care and oversight by a nurse who had expertise in chemotherapy. This meant a great deal to us since we knew there were many side effects and issues that would require her attention. It is not easy to take care of a chemo patient, especially one who has gone through numerous hospitalizations for infection and anemia. We were so appreciative of what Mary Jo did for us. She is one of those nurses who inspires confidence, offers gentle reassurance and a sense of peace. Those are rare qualities.”

Mary Jo stepped up as leader for the Service Council at Pella Regional, because of her commitment to superior customer service in the organization. From the beginning, it was clear that Mary Jo wanted to take “service” to the next level. She has been a champion for this cause and has engaged all departments in the organization in moving initiatives forward. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm for improving service and that has been contagious to all the members on her council. She not only drives the issues, but makes it fun to be part of the Service Council.

Mary Jo has mentored numerous nurses throughout her varied career. More recently, she has taken on the responsibility of teaching staff in the outlying clinics about emergency readiness and response, in case of cardiac and other emergencies. She also holds code blue drills on a yearly basis to test the emergency response at those clinics.