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News Release

Vatican Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski visits Mercy

September 03, 2010

More than 30 years after Pope John Paul II’s historic sojourn to Iowa, the Des Moines community welcomed a second visitor from the Vatican. On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, Mercy was honored to host His Excellency Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, a papal appointee who serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

Archbishop Zimowksi was in Des Moines as the special guest of the Most Reverend Bishop Richard E. Pates and toured Mercy’s Central Campus, Mercy Medical Center – West Lakes and the Mercy College of Health Sciences to learn more about the health care ministry provided by the Mercy Family.

During his time at Mercy, the archbishop prayed with the sick, blessed care providers and offered a special Mass for the intention of Mercy’s patients and staff in the East Tower Auditorium. During a visit to the NTICU, Archbishop Zimowksi was interested to learn more about the ways innovative medical technology – including eICU® Connect – is used to improve care. He noted, however, that much more important to the healing process than technology is the human factor.

“What touched me was how gentle and sincere he was with each patient and their family,” said Deb Willyard, NTICU unit nursing director. “He would call the patient by name and leave him or her with a sense of peace and comfort. At each stop, you would hear him recite ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ and then with gentle hands and a pastoral smile, he blessed the patient and family. There were many ‘thank yous’ and tears of appreciation.”

In Mercy’s oncology unit, where faith and medicine are frequently intertwined, the archbishop visited many patients and interacted with staff.

“Our staff was humbled when they heard Archbishop Zimowski would visit,” said unit nursing director Rachael Johnson. “It was truly special when he blessed them. It reaffirmed who we are and what makes Mercy different.”

In a cardiology unit, Fannie Lamenbola, a 98-year-old patient, expressed true excitement with her surprise visitors. “I’ve never met an archbishop, or even a bishop, and now I’ve done both,” she exclaimed before being blessed. Throughout his visit, Archbishop Zimowski visibly demonstrated the connection of health care and faith. At the special Mass, the archbishop’s homily noted the Sisters of Mercy started great work that now must be carried on by others, reminding us, “We are Jesus Christ’s hands here on earth. We must also be His heart.”

Contact Gregg Lagan
Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines

cell 515-490-6636

1111 6th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50314 (515) 247-3121
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