After broken foot, then COVID, RN finds way to help others

Clinical care leader Marsha Moestchen is National Ever Forward Leadership Champion

A Good Samaritan Society nurse sits closely to a resident on her bed as they talk.

In January of 2021, Marsha Moestchen’s life literally took a dive. The clinical care leader at Good Samaritan Society – Waukon in Iowa slipped and fell while working from home one Sunday.

“I didn’t put my hand on the rail and I slid with one foot and the other I landed on top of,” Moestchen, a registered nurse, says. “My husband helped me hobble onto a bed which was close by. That was it. I didn’t walk again for three months.”

Moestchen had broken her foot right in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak at her long-term care location.

“The nerve pain was awful. I got in the ER on Monday. They sent me home. On Tuesday I was going back because I told my husband I can’t take it,” Moestchen says.

To make matters worse, she came down with COVID-19 the next week.

‘Pillar of the Good Samaritan’

Moestchen’s administrator in Waukon, Steve Bargar, was new to the position and wasn’t sure how the center would move forward without her.

“I had already clearly identified Marsha as a person to hitch a wagon to if I wanted to be successful here,” Bargar says. “Just a consummate leader. She is always at the forefront of everything we do. Keeping positive motion happening.”

Despite the negative personal events, Moestchen, a 37-year Society veteran, didn’t stay away for long.

“Within weeks she was back on board working from home, sending emails, helping me organize things,” Bargar says.

With her foot up, sitting in her recliner, Moestchen pitched in working on resident assessments and care plans. An injury wasn’t going to keep her from serving others.

“She’s a pillar of the Good Samaritan,” Lori Johnson, Society director of nursing, says. “Everybody knows her. She’s active in her church. She’s active here. She has this grace and humility that is second to none. And her clinical skills are off the charts. You would never ask for a better nurse.”

‘Always there for us’

Moestchen began her journey to “off the charts” nurse at Good Samaritan Society – Villisca.

“I started with Good Samaritan, believe it or not, in 1972 in dietary,” Moestchen says.

Her heart had been in nursing since the fourth grade, however, and she quickly made moves to begin a nursing career at Good Samaritan Society – Red Oak.

“During my time at Red Oak, I did go to nursing school. Got my RN and was the director of nursing there for 13 years,” Moestchen says.

“I just know that I like helping people. Whether it’s making them better or whether it’s the end of their life. I like to be able to help them and make the best quality of life.”

The last eleven years she’s been providing care for residents such as Joyce Vonderohe in Waukon.

“A comfortable place to be,” Vonderohe says. “She makes any appointments and answers questions.”

Vonderohe lives at the center with her husband. Anything she needs, she says Moestchen is “always there for us.”

National Ever Forward Leadership Champion

Whether it’s residents or teammates, it turns out Moestchen is there for everyone. It’s why Bargar and Johnson, without knowing it, each nominated her for the Society’s Ever Forward award.

“In everything she does, she’s all about sharing God’s love with her co-workers, the families we support and the residents we are charged with caring for,” Bargar says.

Turns out the rest of the Society is also grateful for Moestchen’s service, naming her the National Ever Forward Leadership Champion.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed about the whole thing,” Moestchen says. “I just shook my head. I do what I love. I do what God put me here to do.”

Making decisions based on the best interests of the community and living out her faith in a positive, encouraging way is how teammates describe her. Moestchen is also the location’s infection prevention specialist and supports operations at Good Samaritan Society – Postville.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s a blessing to many people,” Johnson says. “She’s got mutual respect from the providers in the community, from the referral sources and all the staff know they can come to her with anything.”

On any given day, CNAs, nurses and residents can be seen streaming to Moestchen’s office for a variety of reasons.

‘I’m a nurse here to do my job’

Bargar says she’s a special leader because she can hold others accountable without pushing them away.

“All it does is make her relationships with those individuals stronger. They don’t shy away from her. They go to her when they need something. She authentically comes across as a coach to them,” Bargar says.

That authenticity comes from her passion for living out the mission of the Society.

“We’re not here because we have to be here. We’re here because we want to be. We want to make a difference,” Johnson says.

You can probably guess Moestchen isn’t in health care for recognition, but she certainly is grateful.

“It always makes me feel special. Just never thought of myself that way because I’m a nurse here to do my job. I think it’s God’s hand that’s putting it there,” Moestchen says.

Using this platform to encourage colleagues across the Society, the award winner is giving this advice.

“Just do the best you can. We all make mistakes but we learn from those mistakes,” Moestchen says. “And give love to these residents.”

One more nugget of wisdom as she smiles: “And don’t fall down stairs.”

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Senior Services