The Heartbeat of Healthcare


MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital honors the contributions of its highly specialized nursing team, not only during National Nurses Week, but every day of the year.

Story by Ann Butenas
Intro Photo left to right...
Kerri-Ann Villanueva, CNA, Sarah Too, CNA and Jami Stephens, CNA

It’s been said a nurse is just another word to describe someone strong enough to tolerate everything and yet soft enough to understand everyone. Kind, patient, and compassionate, nurses offer both kindness and healing. Nurses are essentially the heartbeat of healthcare as they work tirelessly to advocate for their patients.

In 1974, International Nurses Day (May 12) was established by the International Council of Nurses to acknowledge the contributions nurses make within their profession and within the community. By 1994, it became a week-long celebration, promoted, and sponsored by the American Nurses Association.

National Nurses Week, held May 6- 12, 2022, is an integral part of that celebration of nurses from all walks of life who make contributions and sacrifices for the benefit of those they serve. Nurses are typically the first point of contact for patients, and they are the health care professionals whose focus remains steady as they work to keep those patients healthy.

The field of nursing has come quite a long way. It represents a versatile career with many specialty options, one of which is in the field of rehabilitative medicine. The dedicated nurses at MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital (MARH), an affiliate of Encompass Health, specialize in helping patients who are struggling with debilitating illnesses or injuries, working with them to attain optimal health and function, even if that means adapting to a new lifestyle.

Rehabilitation nurses are a vital part of the health care team within any rehabilitation facility, and they are especially valued at MARH. The work they do here is essential to and greatly supports the multidisciplinary team, as these trusted professionals help to facilitate all aspects of patient care and responsibilities.

The Nurses at MARH: The type of medical professionals with whom everyone wants to work.

MARH offers exceptional patient care that helps patients achieve life-changing results. The professionals here work with the specific needs of each individual, assisting them to navigate options and place their needs and care first with a strong focus on achieving superior outcomes.  This is done through many types of therapy, implementation of knowledge and experience, and innovative solutions offered within the range of their services. The medical experts at MARH help patients take the next step in recovery, restoring independence and self-care.

The rehabilitation nurses evaluate the condition of each patient, monitor their progress, update the plan of care, and consult with other specialists to ensure each patient’s needs are met. Often, this translates to assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, walking, cooking, shopping, driving, and other activities that are meaningful to the patient. The nurses work with the entire care team to discuss the progress of each patient and then adjust the plan of care regularly as needed to keep them positively moving forward.

Jami Stephens, Rehab Nursing Tech

Nurses always go above and beyond the call of duty.

As she prepares to graduate in May with a Registered Nursing degree, Jami Stephens is excited about her career path. Formerly in the technology industry, Jami made the switch to health care, as it gives her an opportunity to interact with people and use her trouble shooting skills in a different way.


“I wanted to get into a field in which I could help people,” she noted.

What Jami appreciates most about working within a rehabilitative care setting is the chance to see patients move on to the next phase of recovery and see their progress.

“There are always different things to celebrate here, and I admire how hard patients fight to get back their mobility,” she reflected. “Rehabilitation care is a choice. Every patient who does this does this out of their own free will. They are not willing to accept their current state and work hard to make progress from one day to the next.”

Jami, who has been at MARH for two years, appreciates the team approach employed at MARH and how each staff member is fully valued and how the facility has a vested interest in each of them. That support then easily extends to each patient for whom they care.

“I see a broad spectrum of collaboration and strong communication between the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, and the entire team,” she emphasized.

Sarah T00, Rehab Nursing Tech

Every day a nurse touches a life, or a life will touch a nurse’s life.

A rehab tech with MARH for the past 12 years, Sarah Too, who will graduate in May with her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) designation, is passionate about the work she does. Her primary focus is on assisting patients with activities of daily living and helping them navigate the road to relearning how to do the simple tasks.

“We have a mock grocery story and mock car with small gas station that the patients use to reacquaint themselves with doing these simple tasks that we take for granted,” she said.

Sarah appreciates how the entire team – not just the nurses – can assist a patient who may come into the facility with a traumatic injury or illness and, as time goes by, she can see the progress those patients have made.

“You know rehabilitation works, and it gives you encouragement,” she reflected. “It is rewarding when a patient thanks us for helping them.”

Sarah appreciates how the entire MARH team operates not only like a cohesive unit but also like a family.

“We have a good employee to employee relationship and the work environment is great,” she emphasized. “If you have a good work environment, you feel appreciated for what you do. Plus, we not only act like a family, but we treat our patients like family, too.”

Kerri-Ann Villanueva, Rehab Nursing Tech

It’s no secret nurses inspire their patients. However, their patients often inspire them.

Early on, family and friends realized the compassionate and empathetic nature of Kerri-Ann Villanueva and encouraged her to pursue a degree within the medical profession. Kerri-Ann, who will also receive her Registered Nurse (RN) degree in May and has been with MARH for five years, has an affinity for working within the rehabilitative care setting.

“I didn’t necessarily choose nursing. It chose me,” she explained. “I enjoy this stye of nursing, as it allows me to help patients get back to themselves and transition back to home. They are already better by the time they get to us, but we are actually in a position where we get to see the continued day-to-day progress they make.”

Kerri-Ann attributes much of patients’ success not only to the expert care they receive at MARH, but also to the overall staff at large.

“There is excellent communication between all departments here, and we work well together,” she indicated. “We feel like a family here and our patients actually see that. They have often told us that our staff makes them happy.”

As evidenced by these nurses and the entire health care support team at MARH, it is obvious this superior rehabilitation hospital continues to raise the bar for excellence in healthcare.

Sources: and