Philanthrophy

The Caring Tradition Fund: A Nurse's Perspective

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Emergency Department nurse Anne Roane witnesses firsthand how the Caring Tradition Fund positively impacts patients and families during what is often a very stressful time. “Sentara Martha Jefferson is truly a unique environment,” declares Roane. “Anyone will tell you there is a difference when you come here.”

One of Roane’s favorite aspects of the Caring Tradition is the Patient Advocate program, wherein volunteers act on behalf of patients in the hospital in many respects, performing any number of helpful tasks, from waiting with patients for test results to tracking down family members. “I value Patient Advocate volunteers so, so much,” says Roane. “They do such a great job of taking care of the nonclinical things that help our patients feel safe, heard and acknowledged.”

Roane admits that when the Patient Advocate program was introduced to the Emergency Department in 2013, physicians and nurses were unsure how the volunteer role would weave into the patient experience. “Volunteers didn’t want to be in the way, and we weren’t quite sure what to ask of them,” recalls Roane. “But over time the flow has just worked out beautifully, and they are so appreciated by everyone.”

Roane shares a recent example of how a volunteer advocate helped enhance a Sentara Martha Jefferson patient’s experience: “An elderly gentleman with dementia was brought in from a nursing home and admitted to the hospital. His family contact information was inaccurate, but a Patient Advocate took on the task of tracking down his daughter, who was so relieved to get an update on her dad and was able to give us lots of important information. I don’t know if I would have been able to find his daughter that day, given everything I had going on as a nurse. So having this critical liaison was amazing.”

Roane also heartily praises Martha’s Clothing Closet, a program under which the hospital accepts donations of new and gently used clothing for patient use. “It happens all the time, especially in the Emergency Department, that a patient comes in without usable clothes. Maybe they’re really soiled, or they have to be cut off in order for caregivers to provide treatment. Being able to offer them something clean and comfortable to go home in once they’re discharged is a really nice benefit.” She recalls a case in which a young patient came in with a scalp laceration she had suffered at a swimming pool. “She had been dressed appropriately for the pool, but it’s cold in the hospital,” she remembers. Her motherly instinct kicked in (Roane has a 7-year-old son), and she knew that it would bring the child comfort to have warm, dry clothes to wear while she was treated. “It made all the difference,” she says.

Other Caring Tradition programs that have been implemented to enhance the patient experience include the Cellphone Charging Station in the lobby; the Acts of Kindness program; and Arts-in-Healthcare, which includes art that can be enjoyed by pediatric patients.

Roane has witnessed the birth and growth of many Caring Tradition programs since joining the Sentara Martha Jefferson team as an Emergency Department tech in 2013. Since then, she has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, which was funded in large part by community donor support for the Haden Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation. Now she’s looking ahead to earning her master’s degree and has already been in communication with the hospital’s nursing leadership about receiving a donor-supported scholarship. When asked about the benefits of her continuing education, Roane responds: “It has really guided my philosophy as a healthcare practitioner and nurse; it’s also helped me understand the less tangible aspects of nursing, beyond anatomy and physiology. The efforts of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation help ensure that the hospital’s philanthropic priorities—nursing, palliative care and the Caring Tradition—stay at the forefront amidst the ever-changing healthcare landscape. The Foundation allows us to have that personal touch and keep the Caring Tradition alive and well.”

If you would like to learn more about supporting the Caring Tradition, please contact Lauri Wilson at the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation at (434) 654-8258 or ltwilson@sentara.com.

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