Presence St. Mary's Hospital

Even though she’s only been here a little over 11 years, Dr. Lynn McDonald and her devotion to practicing Palliative Medicine has made a huge impact on Presence St. Mary’s Hospital, and the entire community as well.

Moving here in 2005 from Dayton, Ohio, she and her husband Hal were excited to come back to the area where they could be close to family. Through her work at both PSMH and the community, that family has grown significantly over the past 11 years.  

Lynn didn’t initially want to go into the medical field. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in chemistry and went to work at Dow Chemical in Michigan. “After being there and working as a chemist for a period of time, it just didn’t feel like it fit,” she recalled. It was shortly after that realization that she decided it was time to go to medical school.

Lynn decided to join the Air Force as a means to help finance her education.  After graduation, she completed her residency in Internal Medicine with the Air Force in Ohio. Once coming back to Illinois, she worked as a hospitalist.

“I remember one specific patient,” she explained. “She was stricken with extreme rheumatoid arthritis and was in constant pain. Her family was absolutely beside themselves because they didn’t know how to help her and my heart went out to them. I sat down with them to talk about a plan of care and that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do.” It was there that her desire to work in Palliative Medicine was born.

St. Mary’s was the first official hospital palliative care program in the community. In 2005 the hospital funded a group to attend a conference and continuing education surrounding this new program and Dr. McDonald was among the attendants.

While palliative care is definitely a calling for Dr. McDonald, she also greatly credits her PSMH Palliative Care team and holds all of them at the highest possible regard. “Pete LaMotte and Jackie Fedrow are the social workers that we work with (most often) and it is so hard to put into words how professional and excellent they are - and Sue Giacchino – you could not ask for or find a better or more compassionate and knowledgeable colleague. I am truly thankful for all of the relationships we have built throughout this community to be able to continue serving those in need. It’s all about recognizing a need. Our physicians, nurses, techs, pastoral care and social services staff are all able to recognize that need and we wouldn’t be able to do this work without their involvement.”

LynnMcDonald_Pete LaMotteDr. Lynn McDonald with Pete LaMotte (right)

Anyone who knows Dr. McDonald, knows that she does not want recognition for what she does and that doing the job is all the recognition she could ever need. “You feel like you are doing something that really matters. At a very vulnerable time in your patient and their family’s life, we are there to help make a hard time easier. There are no words to describe that privilege or the gratification that it brings.”

When asked what the one thing that she wanted others to know about who Dr. McDonald is and what she does, she wanted to be clear, “People often think if the palliative team is called or they see me that the news they are about to get is probably bad and that’s not always the case. We are not just called in for end of life care. It’s all about explaining the medical situation to our patients and their families in order to make a plan of care that is meaningful to them. A thank you that you get from a family or a patient that you helped is all the encouragement I could ever want for the work that we do.”

This is Dr. Lynn McDonald. Dr. McDonald is PSMH.  #IamPSMH