Sarah Grcich, MSN, Ed., RN, BC, CWOCN, takes nursing to a whole new level with her devotion and passion to helping patients and caregivers live with and care for ostomies.
Grcich began her tenure at Porter in 1983 as a Surgical Floor Nurse. Her passion for treating those with ostomies developed over time while assisting and observing procedures related to ostomies in surgery. Her personal connection to ostomy care began when her father, Charles Oestreich, developed colon cancer in 1989. Her mother, Maryetta Oestreich, was also diagnosed with colon cancer in 1994. Both parents required having a colostomy.
Grcich explained, "My experience in surgery gave me the ability to care for my parents comfortably. During the journey of their care, however, I realized that there was a lack of resources not only in ostomy teaching and education, but in the lack of supplies. With that, the impact on patients not having the ability to rebuild self-esteem and independence bothered me."
Sarah's Parents, Charles and Maryetta Oestreich
She continued, "Many people don't realize that an ostomy isn't just a change of lifestyle, but it is also an opportunity to save a life. When you give a patient information with pre-operative teaching, it allows the patient to have the opportunity to understand and prepare for their ostomy, which in turn allows them to heal mentally, physically, spiritually, and with dignity."
Established in 2005, Porter Regional Hospital's Ostomy Clinic is the only one of its kind in Northwest Indiana. Grcich can be praised for starting the program from the ground up. The program is responsible for reaching out to patients, families, co-workers, nurses and other hospital staff to educate and heal ostomy patients. The program has helped many patients live as normal a life as possible after their ostomy. The clinic is not age-specific; it is dedicated to patients of all ages including infants, teens and adults.
Grcich was recognized as the Porter Regional Hospital Associate of the Year in 2011 because of her continued dedication and passion in supporting and educating ostomy patients and their caregivers.
Darlene McCrammer, RN, MSN, Director of Chandana Surgery Center and Center for Digestive Health, said of Grcich, "Where do you start with Sarah? She has so much energy and when she is around people she gets them excited about patient care. Sarah puts people in an environment that is not intimidating and that's what makes her such a great educator. It enhances learning and makes her a great leader. I've seen her with patients and she puts them at ease; she can make them laugh and that can take the stress out of the situation."
Grcich appreciated the recognition and support for her work.
"Porter's recognition of my hard work and passion makes me appreciate the time I've dedicated to both working with Porter and helping provide the best in patient care. Having Porter see that it's not just about recognizing my work, but also about quality patient care and education, such as encouraging patients and caregivers to be more involved in their own personal care, is extremely fulfilling. There is a great need to get the education out there and to let people know that you can live, heal and survive with an ostomy," she said.
Ellen Taylor, RN, is a survivor of rectal cancer. She said working with Grcich helped her tremendously with the healing process.
She added, "Being a nurse myself, I thought I would be able to handle it all, but I needed help and Sarah was there. She was a big help; I could call her any time. She was a tremendous help not only with the physical aspect of my recovery but also mentally. She took the time to find the proper fit for my ostomy bags and she gave me the emotional support to get through the trying times."
Grcich not only educates and cares for patients, but she also runs a support group that is open to the public for anyone who may want help in dealing with an ostomy. The group meets every fourth Thursday of every month and is open to all ages. For more information, call 219-983-8780 or email email@example.com.
Striving for excellence in the education and care for ostomy patients shows how Grcich is setting the bar high and achieving her goals with each new challenge.