Sentara in the Community

Caring for the Caregivers

Burnout can be a serious issue for healthcare professionals even in the best of times, and COVID-19 has only heightened this reality by magnifying existing challenges in the lives and careers of healthcare providers. Add to this the pandemic’s unprecedented psychological impact on all of us—the fear, isolation and distrust—and it’s easy to understand the increased need in today’s world to support the emotional health and wellness of the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital team. 

Through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation is increasingly focusing on new and innovative ways to boost staff resilience and wellness during these unprecedented times. Although Sentara Martha Jefferson has been investing in staff resiliency efforts for years, COVID-19 has underscored and amplified existing stressors and challenges, which aren’t likely to disappear when the pandemic is over. 

We thank the community for its support and are pleased to share a few examples of how your generosity is helping to make life better for the healthcare heroes at Sentara Martha Jefferson. 

The Power of Place and Beauty to Heal and Promote Wellness

Recognizing the constant, busy work pace of our teams, gifts to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund are making possible the creation of dedicated, intentional spaces for staff in which to meet and private, meditative spaces in which to rest. While all Sentara Martha Jefferson units have break rooms, those spaces are primarily communal and intended as places to eat and find refreshment. True resiliency spaces, conveniently located and easily accessible for our frontline team, are still needed.

Thanks to a generous gift from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, one such space is now being created. With the working title of “Heroes’Garden,” a rooftop located between the Intensive Care Unit and Cornell 1—the units where some of our most critically ill patients are treated—will provide a dedicated space for staff to retreat for rest and private meditation. 

The plan for this garden was included in the original landscape designs for the new hospital created nearly 10 years ago by renowned landscape design firm Nelson Byrd and Woltz, which designed all of the gardens in and around the new campus. Until now, however, funding has not been available to build out this beautiful space. As our caregivers continue to grapple with the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19, we give special thanks to The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation for its continued dedication to the hospital and our team, especially at this most challenging of times.

Farm-Sourced Food For Everyone

To promote wellness and help ensure that all employees have access to healthy food, the Foundation recently established a partnership with Local Food Hub, a Charlottesville-based organization that strives to achieve equitable access to fresh food, among other goals. Every Friday throughout the summer of 2020, this “Fresh Farmacy” program delivered 100 bags of fresh, locally grown produce directly to the hospital for our staff. Using philanthropic support to underwrite the program, staff members were eligible to purchase the produce on a “pay what you can” basis. Bags brimming with fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, jams, and even locally grown and ground cornmeal, valued at $35, could be purchased for as little at $5—enabling access to all staff, regardless of economic circumstances. The program continued in October to celebrate the fall harvest, in November for Thanksgiving and in December for the holidays. Altogether, more than 2,000 bags of fresh, healthy food were provided.

My sincere thanks to the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation for support of the weekly farm-share bags. Those delicious bags of fruits, veggies, dairy and other yummy surprises were a highlight of my week. I loved learning more about our local growers, trying new things and making healthy meals for my family. With thanks, Andrea Chapman, Infection Disease Preventionist

Unmasked Affection

One year ago, very few people in our area owned a face mask, and now masks have almost become a fashion statement! To protect our team inside and outside the hospital, Rhoback generously donated more than 2,600 face masks, which were distributed to staff and volunteers. Customized with the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation logo, these masks quickly became the crowd favorite among our team. Special thanks to Rhoback, a locally founded and locally operated Charlottesville company, for its generous support. 

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