Stories

Giving Back Through Nursing: Michael’s Story

Jul 31 2019
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Meet Michael Winter, a nurse who has made giving back a priority.

After six years, Michael Winter, RN, MSN, CMSRN, OCN, still clearly recalls his job interview at Mercy Health’s Anderson Hospital.

“When I walked in, it felt completely different,” he says. “Everyone in the hallway stopped and said hello. It was a very unique atmosphere.”

He left with a really good feeling, a feeling that grew even stronger when he learned Mercy Health was sponsoring an event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“I love giving back and being involved with nonprofit events,” he explains. He adds that learning about these philanthropic efforts helped him make his decision regarding where he should practice. He joined the Mercy Health team and hasn’t looked back since.

Giving back

Since joining Mercy Health, Michael has made it a priority to find ways to give back. One of his projects has been creating a medical supply recycling program.

When physicians perform a procedure, the nurses follow what’s called a “physician preference sheet” to make sure the doctor’s preferred supplies are at hand. Not every item on the preference sheet may be needed for a particular procedure or patient, so, prior to Michael’s initiative, any leftover items were thrown in the trash.

Now, through the recycling program, staff members are able to collect these uncontaminated medical supplies which are then donated to an accredited medical supply recovery organization. In one year, the staff has collected 11,000 pounds of medical supplies, which translates to about $220,000 in community benefit. Thanks to these donations, clinicians at the recipient facilities in Ecuador and Africa were able to perform sterile surgeries for the first time.

Another project Michael is passionate about is a $50,000 nursing scholarship fund he created with an academic partner. And Michael has a very unique funding source for it: selling snacks. On his unit is a bin filled with goodies labeled “Michael’s Scholarship Fund.” His fellow nurses are happy to donate in exchange for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Michael estimates he will be able to add another $10,000 to the fund over the next four years.

Hope and humor

Michael works as a staff nurse in the medical/surgical & oncology unit, where about 20 percent of his patients are being treated for cancer. It’s a place that he finds both rewarding and challenging.

He loves that the patients come in regularly for treatments and the nurses can get to know them. However, the work can be emotional given Michael’s mother lost her battle with colon cancer less than two years ago. He copes, and helps his patients cope, through laughter.

“I try to make sure everything I do brings humor,” Michael says.

Like the time a patient’s sister brought in a toy shield, joking that the patient could be difficult. He donned a hospital gown and grabbed the shield before marching into her room.

“I love making my patients laugh,” he chuckles.

There are always moments of seriousness as well, like times he has to tell a family their loved one is going to hospice. Or crying with a patient fighting cancer for a third time. But for Michael, these difficult moments are worth it.

“You will have days where you are the sole reason that someone is alive,” he says. “You won’t find that in any other career.”

Learn how you can apply to become a Mercy Health nurse.


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