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Joan Heimler Legacy of Life Scholarship Award announced

October 04, 2010

Funds will help critical-care nurses who work with patients, families

Critical-care nurses play a crucial role as patients and families face end-of-life situations and consider organ and tissue donations. A new scholarship will better equip these caregivers to do their important work.

The BloodCenter of Wisconsin has just unveiled the Joan Heimler Legacy of Life Scholarship Award, which also provides fitting recognition for one of Aurora's longest-tenured caregivers.

Joan, a registered nurse and manager of organ and tissue recovery at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, was instrumental in establishing the Wisconsin Tissue Bank, which originated with Aurora in 1986 and became part of BloodCenter in 2010. She exemplifies passion for caring for families at their most difficult time, offering a way for them to have their loved ones live on by helping others.

While Joan is honored and humbled to be so recognized, she is more excited about the benefit this will provide for critical-care nurses, and ultimately for patients and families.

"Critical-care nurses are part of a team of individuals who provide care in challenging circumstances, alongside chaplains, physicians, and so many others," Joan said.

The $2,000 scholarship will enable one nurse each year to attend the National Teaching Institute (NTI) and Critical Care Exposition, an opportunity to expand knowledge and network with colleagues from across the country.

Registered nurses who work full- or part-time in critical care in a Wisconsin hospital, and who actively promote organ and tissue donation, are eligible. Those who receive the award will exemplify the values of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses - integrity, dignity, collaboration and excellence in patient care.

The need for organ, tissue and eye donations is ongoing. Currently, more than 100,000 people across the U.S. are awaiting a transplant. To learn more about making a donation, please go to

"You can make a difference," Joan said.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

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