Another successful holiday season has come and gone at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. As we settle into the new year, let’s take a look back on the many ways that Presby’s staff truly made it “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Helping Others Savor the Season
Only a few weeks after the PPMC Cardiology team donated clothing and care packages to Chosen 300 Ministries, Bridget Abdalla, CMA, rallied the troops again, this time to provide homeless individuals with a warm and delicious Thanksgiving meal, all without the financial burden. Emergency Department nurse Jean Boles, RN, MSN, CEN, also led a hospital-wide effort to collect turkeys and all the trimmings for Covenant House, an organization that connects youth in crisis with the recovery resources they need.
Altogether, these two drives collected more than 25 turkeys, dozens of bags overflowing with canned goods and pies, and even financial donations. The MICU team also sponsored and served a delicious holiday spread at the Rudolphy Mercy-Douglass Home for the blind.
The impact of these efforts was perhaps best summed up by a Covenant House rep who noted, “So many were able to enjoy a great holiday meal thanks to all of you. For example, it’s been a tough stretch for one of our ‘graduates’ and his young family after his father passed away, but when he left dinner with his children, they were all smiles. Penn helped make the holidays bright for his family — and for so many others.”
‘Tis the Season for Workplace Fun
After working hard to make sure the community members could savor the season in a warm, supportive environment — and without the stress of grocery bills — PPMC’s staff and volunteers came together to enjoy a special meal of their own. The annual Holiday Meal is a longstanding tradition that brings the hospital together to celebrate another year of growth, success, and collaboration. Each shift had the chance to pile their trays high with the delicious dishes prepared by the Food & Nutrition Services team, enjoy a well-deserved break, and reflect on the impact they make each day. Plus, staff brought canned and dry goods donations for the People’s Emergency Center Food Cupboard to spread joy in another way.
Employees were also encouraged to participate in a hospital-wide ugly sweater contest. Human Resources manager Zene Colt served as master of ceremonies as Presby staff flaunted their merry, bright, and unsightly outfits. There were quirky homemade sweaters and offbeat illuminated tops, but only five could be named the best of the worst. Congratulations to clinical pharmacy specialist Megan Zielke, whose seasonal Star Wars sweater was named “Best Overall”!
Sharing the Holiday Magic
PPMC truly made it “the most wonderful time of the year” by keeping a number of holiday traditions alive, such as the 16th Annual Children’s Holiday Party. Gary Ginsberg, assistant executive director of Facilities, partnered again with the West Powelton Concerned Community Council and BBLM Architects to provide 125 children and families from the local community with a tasty breakfast with Santa Claus. As they enjoyed music and performances by the West Powelton Steppers and Jazzy the Clown, Santa spread early Christmas joy by handing out gifts to all.
Each year, the PAC 5 team also collaborates with Pleasant Grove Baptist Church to organize a toy drive. As Susan Weller noted, the church is “in the heart of a high-need neighborhood and close to two shelters,” making it the perfect partner for outreach. The unit was bursting with toys before they were delivered to the church for distribution. To make the gifts even more special, community members were invited to pick out their own toys to fit their children’s unique interests.
That same level of care and personalization was also key to one of the hospital’s most heartwarming events: the 4th Annual Believe in the Magic of Santa event, organized by the Abramson Cancer Center and Kathleen M. Rotz Lung Cancer Research Fund. In honor of his wife Kathleen, who passed away from non-small cell lung cancer, Chris Rotz and a charitable community of donors “adopted” 13 cancer patients facing extreme financial burdens and checked off their holiday wish lists. As in past years, hugs and tears abounded, and even patients who had an inkling of what was to come were overwhelmed with gratitude.
From bikes to Barbie houses, the ACC’s exam rooms were filled with piles of exciting gifts for patients and their families. One patient was given $1,000 in gift cards, while another received laptops for their grandchildren. A patient with a very large family requested either a new TV that everyone could gather around for Eagles games, or a washer and dryer to manage their extensive laundry needs; both wishes were granted. Even the family of a patient who sadly passed away in November received piles of gifts in an effort to bring them some comfort and to ease the stresses of the season.
As hematology-oncology social worker Kayla Hilliard, MSW, LSW, explained, “Many of our patients had to give up their jobs and try to adjust to being a ‘full-time patient.’” This loss of income, combined with challenges like housing and food insecurity and lack of access to transportation means that holiday gifts are often luxuries at best, and entirely out of the budget at worst. “We are so grateful for the Rotz family and the generous donors who bridge these gaps and empower our patients and their families to have a very merry holiday.”