Appreciating those who care for Sisters

Maria Anna Brunner founded the Sisters of the Precious Blood by reaching out to those in her community who were most in need, and the Sisters’ history at Kneipp Springs is just one of countless examples of how the Sisters have continued that mission. Just as Sisters strive to help care for others in any way they can, they also support one another — and they are grateful for those who provide care for them.

Twenty-five years ago, Sister Arlene Hirsch was asked to serve as coordinator of Emma Hall, the section of the Maria-Joseph Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where Sisters reside. More than 40 Sisters lived at Emma Hall at the time.

“I got to know a lot of Sisters I never knew because they’d been out West during their years of active ministry. And some of them had been my teachers, so it was interesting to get to know them better,” Sister Arlene said.

Her duties were “just to be there for the Sisters” and to serve as a liaison between Emma and the rest of the Community. She served in that capacity for over a decade.

Last fall, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she began assisting current coordinator Sister Gerri McGeorge in the same capacity, going over to the Maria-Joseph Center a couple times a week to do whatever is needed. Today, there are eight Sisters in residence on Emma Hall.

“I see the beauty of these women who gave their lives to ministry, and now they’re in need. I want to make their lives easier if I can,” Sister Arlene said. “Our Congregation proclaims God’s love — what better way to do that than to give care to the frail. I just want them to know the Congregation is grateful to them for all they have done.”

Just next door to the Maria-Joseph Center and Emma Hall, the Sisters who live at Salem Heights, the Congregation’s central house in Dayton, turn to the Fidelity Home Health Care nurses working at Salem Heights for much of their health care. Christine Gehron has been at Salem Heights for a total of 16 years, with some time spent as an aide and the past two as a licensed practical nurse.

“While I worked at Salem Heights for 14 years as an aide, from time to time I would have a Sister plant the seed to continue my education and become a nurse. When I did decide to do this, Sister Catherine Nader [who passed away in 2016] helped me refresh my basic studies for my entrance exam for nursing school. It had been 34 years since I had been in school,” Gehron said.

After completing a nursing program and gaining experience in a nursing home, Gehron returned to Salem Heights. “I am grateful for this awesome career working with such appreciative and caring Sisters, a wonderful supportive team of co-workers and staff, and a great supervisor who understands nursing here because she also works here from time to time,” she added.

Velma Frei became licensed as a registered nurse in 1964 and has worked with the Sisters since 2000. She described the nurse team’s varied duties, such as preparing and giving medicine, completing lab paperwork, communicating with doctors’ offices, taking vital signs, updating records, delivering meals, and keeping in touch with Sister Nancy Wolf (coordinator of Sisters) and Sister Judy Kroeger (Salem Heights administrator). “In other words, we do whatever is necessary,” Frei said — just as Sisters of the Precious Blood serve wherever and however they are needed.

These are just three voices representing the many people — both lay people and Sisters — who contribute to Sisters’ health care. The Congregation is grateful for them all.

Story by Mary Knapke

Top, Sisters Arlene Hirsch and Adeline Mertz at Emma Hall, at the Maria Joseph Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Dayton, 2016; Dave Eck photo. Second, Nurse Christine Gehron administers medication to Sister Rosemary Laux at Salem Heights; bottom, Nurse Velma Frei administers medication to Sister Barbara Ann Hoying at Salem Heights; Sister Maryann Bremke photos

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