Three wooden bookcases with stacks of clothes on each shelf.One year after Mercy Philadelphia transitioned to HUP-Cedar at the Public Health Management Corporation Public Health Campus on Cedar, the hospital has revived one of its long-standing initiatives to support the community: a clothes closet for patients in need.

The clothes closet began in 2007, said Linda Purnell, HUP Cedar’s patient relations coordinator.

“Our colleagues would donate clean, gently used clothes, shoes, coats, new socks, and undergarments upon request for the patients – it didn’t matter what area the patient was in the hospital,” Purnell said.

The closet temporarily closed in January 2021 as the hospital prepared for its transition to HUP. In December, employees filled drop-off boxes at HUP Cedar, HUP Spruce, and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine with new sweatpants and sweatshirts, T-shirts, jeans, and socks to fill three bookcases in a conference room on the third floor.

HUP Cedar Social Work Team Lead John Schafhauser, MSW, and HUP Patient Education Specialist Maureen Bonnell, MSN, RN, helped coordinate the effort with support from Sofia Carreno, MSN, RN, HUP’s nursing professional development specialist for community engagement, and Sebastian Ramagnano, HUP Cedar’s interim associate executive director.

Fellow social worker Devon Tierce, MSW, organized the donated clothing into categories and added a large donation of new socks, while nurse case manager Erica Bryant, BSN, RN, brought in bins to better arrange and store the donated shoes.

Schafhauser estimates there are about three requests per week for clothing.

“All the nurse managers across Cedar are aware of the closet, as is the ED, and they can call or come anytime during the week, with or without their patients,” he said. “We have a substantial degree of patients who are housing insecure, and as anyone could deduce, that puts them at greater risk for other insecurity issues, like food insecurity and clothing insecurity.”

Following the holiday clothing drive, social workers and nurse managers let Schafhauser know about additional needs they were seeing among patients. In response to a request for gently used shoes, Emergency Department social worker Andrew Luglio, MSW, rounded up an impressive 20 pairs from his West Philadelphia neighbors.

Cedar staff also donated nearly $300 over the winter for the purchase of additional clothing; Schafhauser has used some of the money to buy men’s and women’s underwear and women’s pants. He and Purnell plan to hold additional drives throughout the year to keep the shelves stocked with seasonal clothing.

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