National Nurses Week 2019: Nurse-Volunteer Spotlights


National Nurses Week 2019: Nurse-Volunteer Spotlights


Many Shirley Ryan AbilityLab nurses advance a culture of caring even when they are off work, through volunteering at the local, national and international levels.

Meet some of the volunteer superstars of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s nursing team.

Sarah Mulroe, Registered Nurse, 20th Floor
Sarah has volunteered extensively at A Safe Haven, a residential homeless shelter in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood, since her father helped start it.

The organization assists individuals dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, veterans, and recent parolees. At A Safe Haven, Sarah has performed a variety of tasks, including grant writing, event planning, certifying employees for first aid and CPR, and serving meals.

“Most every holiday, my family will go help serve food or plan crafts and activities,” she said.

Ellen Jo Suerth, Nursing Educator
Ellen says her passion for disaster management led her to get involved with the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT), an organization that trains volunteers to provide medical support after a natural disaster or public health emergency. As a state division of the Federal Emergency Medical Agency (FEMA), IMERT follows federal protocols and training requirements.

With IMERT, Ellen has participated in emergency response drills related to incident command, triage and bio-terrorism.

“Deployment is typically to a region outside of your home area, primarily within the state. They give you 48 hours’ notice and the deployment commitment can be from 72 hours to two weeks,” Ellen said. “I have not been deployed, but, through the annual training, I do feel ready to respond.” 

Katherine Earnest, Nursing Manger, Spinal Cord Innovation Center
In the past couple of years, Katie says she has become more and more involved with the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), reviewing abstracts for conferences and joining the team that reviews and updates the CRRN examination.

In addition, she wrote a chapter on traumatic spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury for The Specialty Practice of Rehabilitation Nursing: A Core Curriculum, ARN’s reference textbook for rehabilitation nurses.

“Many of our nurses have contributed to past ARN publications, so I’m glad to carry on that tradition,” she said. “Volunteering for a professional organization has been a great way for me to grow personally and professionally. It has turned out to be one of the best ways for me to continue honing my writing and research skills. I also like knowing that my contributions will result in a resource other nurses and their patients can benefit from.”

Sarah Campeau, Outpatient Registered Nurse, 15th Floor
Sarah volunteers through Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), a nonprofit organization that cares for orphaned children in Latin America and the Caribbean. She volunteers in NPH’s Chicago office, serves on the associate board, and recently traveled to Honduras on a medical mission.

That mission included nurses and physical therapists who provided care to those in the NPH orphanage, and to others in the community.

“Together we were able to bring more than six giant suitcases of supplies and donations, thanks to very generous friends and colleagues,” Sarah said. “We can sometimes forget about the little things that make us feel human. It can be as simple as helping patients wash their hair or taking them for a walk in the sunshine. It can make all the difference in the world to somebody.”

Rachel Quillin, Registered Nurse, 20th Floor
For the past eight years, Rachel has spent a week or two each summer at a Lakota Indian reservation in South Dakota. She and her fellow volunteers teach children in low-income communities about hygiene, nutrition and general health, hold meetings for adults on substance abuse, and provide medical care.

“I’ve been able to watch children grow and make changes to help break the cycle of unhealthy lifestyles and poverty on the reservations,” Rachel said. “Many times, people believe they have to travel to another country to go on a mission trip. However there is mission work to be done right here in our own country.”

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