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Penn Medicine Staff Spread Holiday Cheer

ICCU/4 Widener staff at Pennsylvania Hospital provided and served food to residents and family members at Gift of Life Transplant House

With 2016 upon us, it seems a good time to reflect on the events that made the 2015 holiday season special around Penn Medicine. Staff at Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH), Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Lancaster General Health (LGH) and Chester County Hospital (CCH) went above and beyond to feed, clothe, collect gifts and more for those in need in our community this year.

At HUP, staff “adopted” 40 shelter families consisting of more than 130 children and 35 veterans from The Veterans Group, a group home for vets in Center City, during the hospital’s annual “Holly Days” drive. “The HUP pharmacy also collected and donated $500 to the Veterans Group home,” said Phyllis Murray of HUP Administration, who has led the annual effort for the last seven years. “In addition, over $2,500 in gift cards were collected for Covenant House, a shelter for homeless teens.”

Toys and clothing were again collected by HUP’s Nursing Network Center for the People’s Emergency Center, Pennsylvania's oldest social service agency for homeless women, teenagers, and their children. HUP’s Nursing Outreach Committee also donated toys, gift cards and clothing to Jane Addams Place, a local domestic abuse shelter for women and children, and Chosen 300, an organization that distributes meals and services to the homeless throughout the Philadelphia Region.

The critical care staff at HUP cooked and served a complete meal – from appetizers and salad to main course and dessert— to transplant patients and their families at Penn Medicine’s Clyde Barker Transplant House last month. And, the staff of General Medicine and Oncology made 48 dozen cookies for Transplant House guests. They bagged the cookies to keep them fresh for patients and families throughout the holiday season.

The staff of Ravdin 9 at HUP and their “Pampered Purses”

Also at HUP, staff of the urology, Head and Neck and Plastic Surgery floor, collected 65 purses for the women of the St. Barnabas women and children shelter of West Philadelphia. The “Pampered Purses” were delivered filled with goodies: nail polish, hair accessories, toiletries and inspirational items (such as journals) to help encourage the women. “Purses are a woman’s comfort item. We wanted to try to make them a little more comforted during the holidays,” said Janelle Harris, BSN, RN, CMSRN, nurse manager.

Holiday activities were aplenty at PAH as well, with homeless community members and clients of Hall-Mercer—individuals living with mental illness or developmental disabilities — their family and friends, gathering together for the 21st year to celebrate the season and give thanks at the annual Hall-Mercer holiday meal on November 23rd, served by Hall-Mercer and PAH staff. The event serves close to 300. “We had multiple seatings to accommodate everyone,” Patty Inacker, LCSW, MBA, director of Operations at Hall-Mercer, said.

The PAH Women’s Health Outreach Committee, including members Nicole Wames, MSN, RNC-NICU, Michelle Sohlich- Miller, BS, BSN, RNC-NICU, CBS, Marybeth Freeman Rice, BSN, RNC-NICU, and Maggie Rooney, BSN, responded to an urgent cry from The Neighborhood Center, a Camden, NJ non-profit, with a donation of 36 Thanksgiving turkeys. The Neighborhood Center provides an average of 300 meals, academic, athletic, and arts programs for children, teenagers and adults in Camden.

The PAH Intermediate Critical Care Unit (ICCU) also participated in the Gift of Life Home Cook Heroes program on November 28th to provide dinner for transplant patients and their families at the Gift of Life Family House, a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families.

Ashley Rose Stankiewicz MSN, RN, WCC, a staff nurse on PAH’s general medical and surgical unit and 10 staff members prepared and served dinner to the staff, patients, and families at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse, a division of Wissahickon Hospice, a holiday first in the unit’s eight year history. Staffers from the unit also volunteered at MANNA, a non-profit that cooks and delivers nutritious, medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to those battling life-threatening illnesses.

PPMC got in on the giving with several activities of its own. The hospital once again partnered with the West Powelton Community Council to co-host the annual “Children’s Christmas” holiday breakfast. The hospital opened its doors to more than 125 local children and their families on a Saturday morning in December and provided gifts thanks to a generous donation from BBLM architects and delivered by Santa himself. The morning was filled with music, dancing, and special appearances from some beloved children's characters. 

Presby MICU staffers served lunch for residents at the Rudolphy Home for the Blind

PPMC staff also donated toys, games, clothing, shoes, accessories and toiletries to People’s Emergency Center and “Families Forward” of Philadelphia. More than 14 departments contributed gifts which aided 11 local families. The generous outpouring of donations from departments across the hospital led to a very happy holiday for those most in need in our community.

PPMC Addictions Services staff continued its annual tradition of making and serving a Thanksgiving meal to all of the participants in its program. And, the staff from the MICU again donated their time to serve a lunch and visit with residents at the Rudolphy Home for the Blind, one of the hospital’s neighbors in West Philadelphia.

Poinsettias were delivered to each patient who was an inpatient on Christmas Day at Lancaster General Health. Three hundred seventy-five were delivered on Christmas Eve.

Further west at Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine staff supported fellow staffers through the Spirit of Giving program. For the 11th year, staff in need during the holidays were partnered with a department within the hospital for support. Individuals or departments “adopted a family” and purchased gifts and requested items, with both blinded to which department is giving and which family is receiving the donations.

“The generosity of LG Health staff offers an excellent reminder of what the holiday spirit truly means,” LGH CEO, Jan Bergen said on her blog. “We may not always know the personal struggles of the people we work alongside every day. This year 84 families took home gifts purchased by 94 LG Health teams.”

CCH librarians among the 815 books collected for local children

CCH rounded out Penn Medicine’s holiday activities with a book drive to support McNeil Children's Library in Coatesville, PA. Donation from CCH staff amounted to 815 new and gently used books! The initiative was spearheaded by CCH Healthcare Librarians Inger Wallin and Ginny Moll. The library then gave the books to the Brandywine Center's medical and dental offices, where children—many of whom do not have parents who read to them regularly nor have books available to them in their homes—are encouraged to take home a book on every visit.

The holiday spirit was alive and well at each of Penn Medicine’s hospitals. Stop by the blog for more heartwarming holiday activities next year. Until then, enjoy the new year.

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