Elkhart Hospital Patient Tracks Down Nursing Student at Bethel College to Say Thank You

MISHAWAKA, IN, January 25, 2006 – In February 2005, Jerry Messier of Elkhart, Ind., was hospitalized at Elkhart General Hospital for 51 days in isolation because of MSRA (an infection that does not respond to antibiotics). Everyone who entered the room wore masks, gowns and gloves. Upon his recovery and release from the hospital, Messier decided to go back to the hospital to visit the unit staff and caregivers. He particularly remembered a student nurse, Antoinette (Tony) Wawrzyniak of Granger, Ind., whom he hoped to meet and thank. When he could not find her at the hospital, Messier went to Bethel College to commend the school on the fine nursing care he received, but more particularly praise to the student nurse who took care of him in the hospital.

"She (Wawrzyniak) is going to make a very good nurse and is a very caring person," Messier stated. "When she came back on the unit several weeks later for another experience, she stopped by to see me and to see how I was doing. She did many things for me that I still remember, particularly teaching for a new diabetic. During the time she cared for me I had a hypoglycemic reaction and she reacted just right!"

Recently, Messier contacted Dr. Ruth Davidhizar, dean of nursing at Bethel College. Davidhizar arranged a meeting between Messier, Wawrzyniak and the nursing student's professor, JoLynn Reimer, of Wakarusa, Ind.

Messier was eager to see what Wawrzyniak looked like since he was only able to hear her when she cared for him and was unable to see her. "Coming to say thank you is one thing I can do," said Messier. "Caring for Mr. Messier was a turning point for Antoinette," said Reimer. "She learned from him that, with God's help, she could care for a patient with complex medical problems! It was a very positive learning experience for her and has helped make her the good nursing student that she is. We are proud of Tony and that she is such a good witness in the hospital."

"We are very happy that our students provide such excellent care that patients want to follow up to say ‘thank you,'" said Davidhizar. "We at Bethel College are proud that clinical expertise is one of the qualities our faculty feel is very important and which is also an outcome of graduates."

Mr. Messier is retired but volunteers for a clinic for persons who do not have medical insurance. "I was so sick I wanted to die," said Messier. "Now I have a reason for living. Helping others as I do now in my volunteer job is a reason to want to live."  

Bethel College has an LPN-ADN, ADN, BSN, an RN-BSN and MSN program. The ADN and RN-BSN programs are available at Winona Lake in an off-site location at Grace College. Information on the nursing programs can be obtained from Dr. Davidhizar at 574.257.2594. Information on the MSN program can be obtained from Dr. Karon Schwartz at 574.257.3382.

Bethel College is an accredited Christian college of the arts and sciences offering associates, bachelor's and master's degrees in more than 50 areas of study. The current enrollment of 1,964 includes students from 34 states, 17 countries, more than 20 denominational affiliations and 16 percent from culturally diverse backgrounds. Scholarships are available based upon a variety of factors including academic achievement, talent in the arts or athletics, ethnicity and church affiliation. Bethel offers classes at four satellite locations, as well as its Elkhart campus. The main Bethel campus is situated on 75 wooded acres in Mishawaka, Ind.

Editor's Note: A photo is available upon request by emailing Sheila Jacobsen at jacobss@BethelCollege.edu. If you would like to set up further interviews with those mentioned, please call the Bethel College public relations office at 574.257.3331.