University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

News Article

Health Care Heroes

For many, health care is a dream job and an opportunity to help those who are suffering. This year, the Corridor Business Journal Health Care Hero award winners include:

  • Kris Westphal, receiving the Volunteer award for her work with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • Patrick Brophy, receiving the Physician award for his work as a physician with UI Children's Hospital
  • The Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at the UI Heart and Vascular Center receiving the Advancement in Health Care award

Patrick Brophy - Physician

Patrick Brophy, MD, saw something missing during medical school when he witnessed a young girl with kidney complications treated by an adult specialist.

It was clear to him she needed extra attention. Though her treatments for kidney complications were adequate, she spent many days in the hospital, missing school and lacking anyone her age to talk to. Brophy, now the director of the division of pediatric nephrology, dialysis and transplantation at UI Children's Hospital, sought to correct this flaw in the way children and teenagers were treated for kidney diseases, often tended to without consideration to their social development.

"Although teenagers are physically bigger, mentally and emotionally they are still developing," Brophy said.

The lack of resources to effectively treat children with kidney complications was not limited to Brophy’s medical school in Canada, but extended approximately 1,000 miles away to Iowa.

Brophy specialized and devoted his career to pediatric nephrology. After his residency in Manitoba and a fellowship in the University of Michigan, he was hired by UI Children's Hospital specifically to develop the pediatric nephrology program.

"We had kids that were requiring care that were just not able to get it, in the state of Iowa or just not getting it at all," said Thomas Scholz, MD, professor and interim head of the UI Department of Pediatrics.

Now, the program is one of the best in the nation.

Aside from his success in developing a nationally renowned pediatric care program, those that work around Brophy say he is a natural at developing relationships with patients and their families.

Kris Westphal - Volunteer

Kids at UI Children's Hospital call Kris Westphal "Lifesaver lady" because of the candy she keeps in her camera bag.

Westphal has become a well-known volunteer at UI Hospitals and Clinics, logging more than 1,500 hours in a volunteer program she designed and runs, called Memories Videos.

In 2000, she pitched the idea: families would bring in photos of their seriously infirmed loved one and she would set the photos to music and mix in interviews, after which the completed video would be given to family members as a memento.

"At that time this was new, something we had not seen before," said Jean Reed, director of volunteer services at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

In the 11 years since, Westphal has moved from handing out VHS tapes to DVDs and has received the individual award from the Iowa Board of Regents, a Governor’s Volunteer Award from Gov. Chet Culver and additionally, her program won the extraordinary program award from the Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals.

In that time, Westphal has produced hundreds of videos--making countless connections with family members and patients. Reed recalls talking to a family that used the video Westphal made of their now-deceased daughter to introduce their younger son to the sister he never met. Even after watching these videos multiple times, Reed said they carry a profound emotional impact.

But after all of her free service to the hospital and the money she personally invested in a home studio, Westphal insists she has gained the most from her work.

"It makes me a much better person," Westphal said. "If I spill wine on a white carpet I don’t get all up in the air about it."

Mechanical Circulatory Support Program - Innovation

The Mechanical Circulatory Support Program in the UI Heart and Vascular Center is the only program of its kind in Iowa, offering cutting edge treatment options to save or extend life for patients awaiting heart transplant.

The program incorporates VAD and ECMO along with one of the most exciting innovations: the Total Artificial Heart - a device that the team is getting certification in mid-February to implant. The UI Hospitals and Clinics team is only the 23rd center in the United States to undergo certification for the device, and training involved all 117 members of the staff.

Congratulations to Fran Johnson, MD and Bill Lynch, MD, and to all the staff who work hard to give patients treated through the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program the most innovative, exceptional care in the region.

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