Passavant Hospital Foundation—A Legacy Through Caring:

11 March 2022
Passavant Hospital Foundation—A Legacy Through Caring:

A man suffering from a sudden and severe illness arrived at UPMC Passavant and immediately was admitted for diagnosis and treatment. Adding to the stress of being sick, he also was distraught over the fact that his daughter’s wedding was just days away and it was becoming clear that he’d likely miss the ceremony due to his hospitalization. His daughter considered postponing the wedding, but his doctor, James Boyle, MD, had another idea. Dr. Boyle asked the patient’s wife if he could have a word with her. They strolled down the hall, ending up in the hospital chapel downstairs. He asked her how she liked this venue for a wedding. “The whole family was over the moon,” Dr. Boyle said. “We arranged for the daughter to get married in the chapel so her father could be present. We were able to get the cafeteria to provide a dinner and man suffering from a sudden and severe illness arrived at UPMC Passavant and immediately was admitted for diagnosis and treatment. Adding to the stress of being sick, he also was distraught over the fact that his daughter’s wedding was just days away and it was becoming clear that he’d likely miss the ceremony due to his hospitalization. His daughter considered postponing the wedding, but his doctor, James Boyle, MD, had another idea. Dr. Boyle asked the patient’s wife if he could have a word with her. They strolled down the hall, ending up in the hospital chapel downstairs. He asked her how she liked this venue for a wedding. “The whole family was over the moon,” Dr. Boyle said. “We arranged for the daughter to get married in the chapel so her father could be present. We were able to get the cafeteria to provide a dinner and volunteering in the community and helping the Foundation bring more health programs and state-of-the-art medical equipment to the North Hills.”

Kevin Garrett, MD, FACS, is a general surgeon, chair of the Division of General Surgery at UPMC Passavant and a clinical professor of surgery, mentoring the next generation of doctors. He supports a variety of charitable organizations, including Light of Life Rescue Mission, which provides a home and food for Pittsburgh’s homeless. He contributes to Bidwell Training Center, which provides classes and career training to underprivileged kids. And he’s an avid supporter of Passavant Hospital Foundation and its vital mission. “I’m somewhat of a cheerleader,” he said. “Whenever a patient I’ve been involved with passes away, I make a donation to the Foundation in that patient’s name.” During the pandemic, Dr. Garrett piloted a program with Passavant Hospital Foundation to provide free meals for members of the operating room staff, who were working long, grueling hours. “There were many heroic efforts during Covid,” he said.

Joann Kim, MD, FCCP, is a pulmonologist and president of the UPMC Passavant Medical Staff. She took Dr. Garrett’s idea of providing free meals for the operating department staff and expanded it to include everyone throughout the hospital. “The pandemic has taken its toll on doctors and medical staff everywhere,” she said. “Staffing is critically low right now. Nursing staffs are burning out. Doctors are retiring in large numbers. Medical personnel are getting sick. Morale is at an all-time low.” To perk up co-workers, Dr. Kim collected donations from the doctors at UPMC Passavant in order to provide free meals for the nurses, support staff, pharmacy staff, lab personnel and security, all of whom were working extended hours at the hospital under extreme stress and anxiety. She raised $10,000, which was matched by both the Medical Staff treasury and Passavant Hospital Foundation. The meals, catered by Giant Eagle, will be offered on designated days, and will be on-going. “We do it to show our appreciation, and we’ll continue to do it until the money runs out,” Dr. Kim said. While Dr. Kim’s typical workday is 15 hours long and runs the gamut from seeing patients for routine office visits to treating critical and emergency cases in the ICU, she still finds time to serve on the Board of Directors for the Passavant Hospital Foundation and volunteer for other causes. Some of her favorite projects involve pre[1]teenage youth. “A lot of philanthropies are geared toward adults or young kids, but helping teens and tweens means a lot to me because the way they’re treated now could affect their lives later on,” she said. She sponsors two children at MHY Family Services (formerly known as the Mars Home for Youth) through her church and regularly donates new toys and personal hygiene items to the organization through Passavant Hospital Foundation. She also donates items to the McCandless Police Department’s toy drive.

Kiran Mehta, MD, FACRO, FACR, treats between 30 and 45 patients each and every day as a radiation oncologist at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Passavant. She typically reaches dozens more people through the free seminars and workshops she presents in partnership with Passavant Hospital Foundation. And, in another partnership with the Foundation, she volunteers at a Celebration of Survivorship event, which is held annually at the hospital and attended by up to 700 cancer patients and their families each year. It consists of dinner, live music, basket raffles, keynote speakers, breakout sessions and an opportunity for attendees to share their stories, tears, laughter, love and encourage[1]ment for one another. “It takes a year to plan the event. The nurses and support staff run it. I get to do the fun stuff — meet and greet, serve food, play games. It means a lot to the patients to see their doctors outside the office. The whole event is very uplifting for them,” Dr. Mehta said.

A medical oncologist at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Passavant and chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division, Kiran Rajasenan, MD, is humble when it comes to discussing his philanthropic contributions to society. He and his wife have established multiple scholarships to help alleviate some of the financial burden for students pursuing careers in health sciences. Dr. Rajasenan also spent many holiday seasons — from the time he was in medical school until the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020 — poised in front of a Salvation Army kettle, ringing a bell and encouraging people to donate money to help feed, clothe, house, uplift, relieve and support those in need within the community. Yet, he is quick to point out the good works being performed by Passavant Hospital Foundation’s Patient Assistance Fund and Cancer Care Fund, which provide patients with monetary assistance to help them pay for basic needs during treatment, such as medicine, housing and food. “These funds have really helped my patients, and all I have to do is ask the Foundation for it. That’s what makes it so easy for me to support them,” he said. Dr. Rajasenan and his wife frequently participate in Foundation fundraisers. In fact, they once opened their home to host a charity poker game for 50 doctors and their spouses as a way to raise money for the Foundation. “We have a freakishly large garage and a nice backyard for hosting such events,” Dr. Rajasenan explained. He encourages everyone to think about what organizations they support, and to consider adding Passavant Hospital Foundation to their list. “The Foundation truly helps the people in our community in so many ways,” he said. “They help educate people on relevant health issues, they assist cancer survivors, they increased awareness for preventative screenings, they offer support groups and patient assistance in general. It’s a one-stop shop and impacts so many areas.”

One particularly timely way people can donate to Passavant Hospital Foundation is to recognize National Doctor’s Day on March 30 as a way to thank physicians for their tireless service to others. “Showing appreciation to your doctor — or any physician — on National Doctor’s Day can be as simple as jotting a note of thanks or honoring them with a gift to Passavant Hospital Foundation that will help fund projects that can ultimately help physicians improve or enhance the patient experience at the hospital,” Anthony R. Savannah said. “I feel people have lost a lot of respect for doctors over the course of the pandemic,” Dr. Kim said. “We had to tell people things they didn’t want to hear. Patients believed things that weren’t true, and we couldn’t reach them. Doctors were, and are, burning out at an accelerated rate. We’re exhausted. So having this recognition is helpful. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way”

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