Saving Lives by Listening

Finding the Fix: How One Sister is Saving Lives by Listening

Independent thought, adaptability and improvisation are hallmarks of Mount Mercy nursing graduates. This is especially true of Sister Marge Friedhoff ’74, who saw a problem and fixed it, creating the CARE clinic (Constipation and Reflux Evaluation) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The facility exclusively treats infants and children with gastrointestinal issues, often discovering and remediating problems no other pediatrician’s offices or facility has resolved.

“Often, physicians don’t have the time to deal with children with problems that could be developmental and/or behavioral…”
— Sister Marge Friedhoff ’74

As a Nurse Practitioner in the CARE clinic, Sister Marge combines direct patient care with research studies that benefit her patients. Helping families and children achieve success, when other doctors and clinics have been unable to help, brings Sister Marge great joy.

“Infants and children with constipation and gastroesophageal reflux account for at least 25 percent of the patients that are referred to the Gastroenterology Department for evaluation and treatment,” Sister Marge said. “Often, physicians don’t have the time to deal with children with problems that could be developmental and/or behavioral, as opposed to physiological. And physicians may not have the time to explain things repeatedly, which some parents need to better understand the problem and its treatment.”

[photo] Sister Marge Friedhoff '74
Sister Marge Friedhoff ’74

Sister Marge explained how she is able to approach the health problems presented from different angles until she finds a solution that works for the children in her care. Gastrointestinal issues in children can be complex, and with assistance from her fellow medical professionals and her patients’ families, she is able to make positive changes for all involved.

Mount Mercy helped reinforce early lessons of generosity in Sister Marge’s life. She spent time outside of classes providing respite care for children with special needs during the summer and she volunteered in various nursing homes around Cedar Rapids, helping to give back to the community.

She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a sister, and later, that she wanted to be a nurse. Sister Marge was encouraged to pursue a religious vocation along with a nursing degree by the Sisters of Mercy in her hometown of Elma, Iowa. She started her college career in 1969, the first year that Mount Mercy became a co-ed school and began offering a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

As a novice, she lived under different restrictions than the other students at Mount Mercy, having a curfew and silence which started at 9 p.m., and ended at 7 a.m. with morning prayers. Between requirements for her vocation and not having transportation, most of her time was spent on the Hill.

Sister Marge took the lessons of compassion and service she gained at Mount Mercy and as a member of the Sisters of Mercy, and applied them throughout her nursing career to care for the most vulnerable and often overlooked members of society.

“My education at Mount Mercy was just the key for unlocking the dreams I had for my life. I always wanted to be a nurse and always wanted to be a sister,” Sister Marge concluded. “I’m completely satisfied being both.”