INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Kerry Skurka has forged a solid career caring for patients and advocating for their needs. The registered nurse gained a deeper perspective several years ago when she found herself in a hospital bed undergoing treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
After her treatment, she returned to her work as cardiac intensive care nurse, but a piece of her heart remained in oncology. Skurka later channeled her clinical expertise and experience as a cancer patient when a new opportunity arose at Franciscan Health Indianapolis in 2016. The hospital was developing a new program to monitor cancer patients whose treatment might damage their heart health.
Skurka's leadership as a nurse navigator in the cardio-oncology program, her compassionate care for patients and the inspiration she brings to her colleagues at Franciscan Health has been recognized by the Indianapolis Business Journal's 2020 Health Care Hero Awards. She was named Top Honoree in the non-physician category at the publication's recent breakfast and ceremony honoring finalists.
"We were looking for a nurse with cardiac experience to be a liaison with our oncologists and Kerry certainly fit the bill," said Vijay Rao, MD, PhD, who leads the cardio-oncology program at Franciscan Health Indianapolis. "I call her the glue that keeps our program together and she epitomizes everything that 'health care hero' stands for."
An Indianapolis resident, Skurka's advocacy also has propelled her to work on behalf of the American College of Cardiology to educate Capitol Hill lawmakers about cardio-oncology and to lobby for improved insurance coverage for patients.
One of Skurka's nurse navigator colleagues describe her as a silent hero.
"Patients often realize what a difference she has made in the improving the quality of their lives," said Holly Page, RN, who was among those nominating Skurka for the award. "She carefully researches the cancer patients being seen, calculates their risk score and when a treatment plan is written, she orders the appropriate tests."
This isn't the first time Franciscan Health clinicians have been honored as IBJ Health Care Heroes. View a listing of all past recipients and finalists.
This annual program recognizes individuals and organizations in the healthcare industry that make significant strides improving the health and well-being of the community.