Friend in Need Becomes a Nurse – and an Innovator
One in an ongoing series
Marlies Meinhold has always been someone friends and family could count on. When they were sick, she’d bring them soup. When they were in trouble, she was there.
When a friend’s mother was dying of terminal cancer, Meinhold spent months caring for her and stayed with her during the final days of her life. It was that experience that finally motivated her to leave her job of 17 years as a chief financial officer of an events-planning company, and become a nurse.
“When that was happening, it made me realize that I really enjoyed taking care of people,” says Meinhold, who works in the Emergency Department at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, now a part of Jefferson Health.
“I had never worked in a hospital – or, for that matter, been in one,” she says, though she had long found the idea of healthcare appealing.
Meinhold continued working full time while she went back to school to become a nurse. She’s been at Einstein for seven years, where “helping people” is the heart of the job.
“Whether it’s taking a few moments to explain something to a patient that they understand and appreciate and feel you’ve guided them on the right path to make better choices for themselves, or helping a nurse who’s backed up and can’t catch up, it can have a big impact,” Meinhold says.
“The sick patients, you see them get better. And the other patients – the ones who come in all the time, not just for emergencies, but because they are underserved and don’t have other access – you can educate them, talk to them, help them feel better.”
Meinhold’s inclination to help others extends to her fellow nurses and the department as a whole.
“Marlies has championed the idea of being the professional Emergency Nurse and is engaged in every level of our department,” says Steven Chapman, Associate Vice President of the Emergency Department, citing her participation in various committees focused on improving the ED.
Meinhold participates in the Shared Governance cluster meetings, in which, she says, nurses can “bring things to management about what changes could make our environment better.”
That focus inspired her to develop an improvement that received national recognition and was adopted on all of Einstein campuses.
“Marlies developed and championed a unique method to deliver a critical medication – tPA – a clot-busting medication used in the past for acute stroke patients,” Chapman says.
Time is crucial in delivering the drug to dissolve the clot that is restricting blood flow, to prevent brain damage and death. Meinhold developed a method that reduced the drug prep time by 30% and eliminated the use of multiple syringes and needles.
Although tPA has now been replaced by another drug and the method is no longer in use, Meinhold’s abstract, “Decreasing Door to Needle Time Using an Innovative Method for Delivering tPA,” was accepted for poster presentation by the Emergency Nurses Association at its annual meeting in September2021.
Meinhold also serves on the Trauma Committee, making sure Einstein maintains the standards necessary to maintain its certification as a Level 1 trauma center. “I teach other nurses how to do trauma cases, how to chart correctly, how to do the right thing.”
“I think it’s important to be involved in the department and advocate for all nursing matters as well as advocating for patients,” Meinhold says. “It helps enable us to be the nurse you want to work with and the nurse you want taking care of your family.”
Meinhold says she deals with the stress of work during her 35-minute commute home, decompressing from the day. And she mentally prepares for the work ahead on her commute in the opposite direction, from home to the ED.
Actually, though, it’s the job she was preparing for all of her life – as the person friends and family could count on when they were sick or in trouble.
“I always just wanted to help people,” she says.