Mercy Medical Center Director of Community Benefit Melissa Cullum, left, presented an AED to St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Springville Dec. 10. There to accept the AED, from left to right, were: Cheryl Machovec, Mike Gregoricka, Rev. Andrew Awotwe-Mensah and John Roberts.


Officials at St. Isidore’s Catholic Church were thankful for a donation from Mercy Medical Center and ThinkSafe, as the church took receipt of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Dec. 10.

“On behalf of our parish and the parish council member and the wonderful parishioners, I want to express our sincere thanks to you for gifting us this,” Rev. Andrew Awotwe-Mensah said. “I think it will be extremely beneficial to the entire Springville Community.”

St. Isidore’s Secretary/Bookkeeper Cheryl Machovec said it was the first time the parish had applied for the grant through the program. She said St. John’s in Mount Vernon had an incident in their parish and wanted to look into getting a device for themselves. St. Isidore’s has more limited resources but were informed by a member of the parish council about the program which would make it a financially possible.

The program started in 2014 after the Cedar Rapids Public Library reached out to Mercy. The hospital partnered with ThinkSafe, based in Cedar Rapids, to make the AEDs available. Mercy Medical Center Director of Community Benefit Melissa Cullum and Liz Eftling with ThinkSafe presented St. Isidore’s with their AED and walked them through the specifics of the machine.

The batteries on a machine have a four-year battery life, if unused. The church will also be working with ThinkSafe on monthly checks of the device to ensure it remains ready for use. Once activated, the defibrillator gives verbal instructions once activated, taking people step-by-step through the process if the device would need to be turned on.

The device is used to correct an electrical issue within the heart, not for events like a heart attack. The device that the church received also analyses the subject’s heart rhythm and will not call for a shock if one is not warranted.

If the device was put to use, Efting said that a new battery could be at the parish in one or two days once ThinkSafe was alerted.

The device also comes with an alarmed cabinet, to alert someone if there was an incident or when the cabinet is being meddled with.

Callum said that when deciding on how to award grants, they consider an organization’s financial need and the AED coverage.

“They didn’t have current AED coverage for one thing, and the other is they were more in a rural area, so we know that it is more critical in those rural areas that they have access to this device,” Callum said of why St. Isidore’s was selected.

She said just having a device there and available for use can give people peace of mind in case an event would happen where it would need to be put into use.

Awotwe-Mensah knows the impact that not having the necessary equipment can have. Just last year, when he was in a parish in Dubuque, they had a parishioner who collapsed and passed away before the ambulance could even arrive, despite arriving in apparently good health. An AED device could make a difference in such a situation.

“The likelihood that they’re going to survive with the use of an AED is exponential,” Callum said.

In addition to the cabinet and device itself, the church also received stickers to post outside the building to alert people that there was a defibrillator inside.

Machovec said she hoped other parishes around town looked into the program as more could benefit from having such a machine at their parish.

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