INDIANAPOLIS — Jessica Stoebick was a mother and dedicated nurse who was loved by all her colleagues.
Tragically, she was killed by her estranged ex-husband in Plainfield on Dec. 18.
Her former colleagues say Stoebick touched the lives of all her patients.
“She was one of those people that was really passionate about her work,” Dr. Tara Holloran, Medical Director for the Pediatric Center of Hope at Riley Hospital for Children, said. “She was not the type of person that was going to clock in and clock out and check off the boxes. She wanted to make sure her patients got outstanding care.”
Stoebick was a forensic nurse. She would collect evidence from kids involved in physical and sexual abuse cases. Often those kids were experiencing the worst day of their life, but Stoebick would do everything she could to comfort them.
During her time at Riley, she noticed her patients didn't always have the things they needed to feel comfortable, so her colleagues say she regularly spoke up on their behalf.
“She was like ‘they are going to be here for three or four hours in a hospital gown, it’s not very cozy,’” Dr. Halloran said. “When they are already feeling a little violated and scared, why can’t we get them a cozy robe to wrap up in?”
Stoebick didn’t stop there. She started applying for grants to buy other clothing items for the children to have, often paying for them out of her own pocket.
Eventually, the exam room became more welcoming, which is something Brenna Joyce took it upon herself to continue.
“I feel like it’s my job to make this the least scary I can for them at a very scary time,” Joyce said. “If I can have a kiddo who leaves happy and smiling, or less traumatized, then I’ve done my job.”
Some of the decorations and comforting items have a meaning.
The leaves on the trees pictured below represents the number of children the hospital has seen for acute medical forensic exams. Each color represents a different year.
“In the state of Indiana, there are 27 different child advocacy centers,” Anna Cope, with Susie’ Place Child Advocacy Center, said. “Each year, over 10,000 kids come to one of the centers.”
Susie’s Place provides forensic interviews of children in a facility the child will find comforting.
The organization says that of those 10,000 kids who come to facilities like theirs every year, between 75-to 80% are victims of sexual abuse and roughly 15-to 20% are victims of physical abuse.
The center says sometimes giving kids clothing after a traumatic event can be comforting.
“They just want to feel like them again,” Cope said. “If something as little as a piece of clothing can help, then that’s great to be able to provide.”
Following Stoebick’s tragic death, Riley Hospital for Children is keeping her work going by starting Jessica’s Closet. Her friends and co-workers want her to be remembered for how she lived, not how she died.
“Naming it in Jessica’s honor is the least we can do to remember her and what an amazing person and nurse she was,” Dr. Holloran said.
The Riley Children’s Foundation is asking the community to help fill Jessica’s Closet through monetary donations. For information on how to donate, click here.