Providing aid where it’s needed most
What started as a quest for high school service hours has evolved into a passion for an impoverished community in Eastern Kentucky.
Three years ago, David J. Overley, M.D., internal medicine, Norton Community Medical Associates – Lakeview, and his son, Alexander, joined a service organization called Hand in Hand Ministries on a mission trip to Auxier, Kentucky.
David thought the three-day trip would be a bonding experience for him and his son, in addition to helping Alexander gain the service hours required of him as a student at St. Xavier High School.
David took a bagful of groceries with him, just in case someone could use them. The groceries didn’t go far. On his arrival he found nearly bare shelves at the local Hand in Hand Ministries food pantry and a community in serious need.
“It’s really like a Third World country there,” David said. “But the people are so kind and grateful. The mission is to give a hand up, not a handout.”
On a return trip to Auxier last year, his grocery delivery had grown to 200 pounds of food he and his colleagues collected. The community placed a “helping hand” commemoration in the food pantry to celebrate the donation, which was spearheaded by Amanda Vatter, medical assistant, Norton Community Medical Associates – Lakeview, and Sheila Townsend, who now is a licensed practical nurse at Norton Community Medical Associates – LaGrange.
Over the past two years, David has worked with mission teams who have repaired roofs, done yard work and built ramps for people who could not leave their homes. He’s also encouraged people to work with their physicians on health issues such as diabetes.
He plans to go back to Auxier this summer, ready to offer services and more groceries. He said he appreciates his Norton family and the way everyone has pitched in to help.
“The people are so grateful,” David said. “This is one of those things you do where you know you are making a difference.”
Sheila Townsend, David J. Overly,M.D., Amanda Vatter
Undampened compassion and caring
Lauren Nelson’s selfless act of kindness for a stranger
It’s been said that the greatest acts of kindness occur when no one’s watching. If that’s true, Lauren Nelson acted heroically with a simple gesture to a stranger.
Lauren joined Norton Audubon Hospital as a patient care associate in December 2015. As a new employee, Lauren was pleasantly surprised to experience her first Employee Appreciation Week in May 2016.
“I’d never worked anywhere that celebrated employees like Norton does,” she said.
Lauren decided to keep her employee gift, a warm blanket, in her car.
“I kept it just in case I ever needed it,” she said. “I get teased a lot for keeping supplies in my car, but I don’t mind. I like to be ready for whatever may come up.”
Although Lauren likes to be prepared, she didn’t expect the sad sight she spotted one afternoon on her way to work. Sitting in her car at a traffic light, she noticed a middle-aged man in a wheelchair on the side of busy Poplar Level Road. Not only was the street full of cars whizzing along all four lanes, a torrential rain was falling.
The man in the manual wheelchair seemed to be trying to cross the street. But he was having a hard time negotiating the traffic from the sidewalk, which had been narrowed by adjacent construction. And he was soaking wet.
Without hesitation, Lauren pulled over, parked, grabbed her new Norton blanket, jumped from her car and ran over to the man.
She gently tucked the blanket around him and asked the shivering man if she could help him cross Poplar Level Road. Initially startled, the man smiled once he realized Lauren wanted to help. He quietly said, “No, thanks.”
Lauren slowly walked to her car, drove to the hospital garage and parked. She peeked out at the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the wheelchair. But by then, he was out of sight.
“I got a little wet trying to help the man, but I was glad to do it,” she said. “I just know I’d want someone to help me if I were in a wheelchair, struggling to cross a busy road in the rain.”
Employee and community outreach in 2016
Employee Emergency Relief Fund
Combined Giving Campaign
Employees pledged more than $988,000 for the Combined Giving Campaign, which supports four community nonprofit organizations and our own foundations.
Souper Bowl of Caring
Through Morrison Healthcare Food Services’ program, employees donated 1,260 food items to help those in need in our community.
Supplies Over Seas
More than 41,700 pounds of usable surplus medical supplies valued at more than $668,000 and $92,000 in equipment were donated for use locally and around the world.
The following employees were honored with Good Samaritan Awards during 2016 in recognition of going extraordinarily above and beyond in performing acts of service either at work or in the community:
As part of our commitment to improving the health of our community, Norton Healthcare provides funding for many services that benefit the public. In 2016, our total contribution was valued at more than $155.2 million, including $101.1 million in charity care for patients who couldn’t afford to pay and unpaid Medicaid costs. Our employees donated 86,552 hours of community service, a benefit valued at more than $1.4 million.
Other areas of support included:
• Scholarships and other educational assistance
• Sponsorships of community programs
• Pastoral care and counseling services
• Support for the Kentucky Poison Control Center
• Child guidance and advocacy programs
• Community cancer initiatives
A spoonful of kindness
As a nurse on Norton Hospital’s Oncology Telemetry Unit, Tiffany Centers, R.N., cares for medically fragile patients. Last year she performed what she considered to be a small act of kindness, but it made a big difference for one patient who struggled to hold her silverware and eat.
The patient has myasthenia gravis (MG), a neuromuscular disorder that often causes tremors. Using special weighted cutlery can help patients with MG steady their hands while eating. When Tiffany heard her patient say, “This sure would be easier if I had my special silverware from home,” she took action.
“I got online and ordered a set of weighted silverware. It was only about $20,” Tiffany said.
The shipment was slated for next-day delivery. Tiffany was scheduled to be off, so she had the surprise gift sent to a co-worker, who brought it in.
“We’ve all gotten to know this patient and her family during the many times she’s been with us, so this was our pleasure,” said Tiffany, who is working on a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
Aside from a brief stint at another facility, Tiffany has worked at Norton Hospital for 12 years.
Caring that exceeds expectations = wow!
Mary Jo Irvin goes above and beyond for patient’s family
Doing what comes naturally — going the extra mile for a patient — led Mary Jo Irvin to earn the lasting loyalty of a local family.
Mary Jo, a surgical technician at Norton Children’s Medical Center, helped care for a young girl who had a condition that caused her muscles to contract. The girl wore leg braces to allow her to move around more easily.
And the little girl moved a lot! An active, energetic child, she loved playing outside with her friends and neighbors. That meant her braces got very dirty and quickly deteriorated.
One day she came to the medical center for her regular treatment — injections of a relaxant into her muscles — and Mary Jo was asked if she could clean and repair the girl’s leg braces while she was being treated.
“I remember the day quite well,” Mary Jo said. “Oh, my, the braces were a mess; filthy and only held together by duct tape.”
She spoke to the girl’s grandmother and learned that, although new braces had been ordered, they wouldn’t be delivered for a while. That was all Mary Jo needed to hear.
“I told her I would do my best to fix the braces so her granddaughter could continue leading the active life she loved,” she said.
Mary Jo got resourceful and went to work on repairing the tattered braces. First, she very carefully cleaned them. Then, she searched the facility and found new brace straps and Velcro for support and some casting tape for extra cushioning. Using those materials, Mary Jo painstakingly mended the worn braces. When she was finished, she presented the newly restored braces to the girl’s grandmother, who was overjoyed.
“Her grandmother hugged me and just kept thanking me for all our hard work,” Mary Jo said.
Mary Jo is quick to credit her facility’s compassionate culture for bringing joy to the little girl’s family.
“Helping that little girl and her grandmother is one of many reasons I love my job,” she said. “We can give hope to our patients that at Norton they will find people who are dedicated to helping them. What we were able to do for that child isn’t unusual. All our staff here at Norton Children’s Medical Center provide this kind of care every day!”
Mary Jo Irvin
2016 Report to Our Employees