Our Employees’ Generosity: Giving Back this Holiday Season

Each holiday season, our Medical Center employees contribute generously to community agencies and local families in need. Our employees’ selfless acts of giving align with our systemwide True North principles (Our Patients, Our People, Our Future and Our Discoveries). That’s why it’s so important that News & Views brings you information about our journey to becoming the best place to give care and the best place to get care. Today’s and Thursday’s News & Views issues show how much our departments and teams care about our patients, our greater community and each other. Learn about this year’s acts of holiday benevolence.

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The Community Mitten Party provided 650 children with the gift of warmth!

The eighth annual Obstetrics and Gynecology Department Community Mitten Party was held in cooperation with the Belmont Community School. This winter-safety themed event, complete with cupcakes, featured a reading of Flat Stanley on Ice and a conversation with a favorite Disney princess for children in grades K through 2. Children in every grade – from preschool through grade 6 – received mittens, hats and gloves generously donated by UMass Memorial Health Care caregivers.

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The Managed Care Operations Department adopted a family through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest. Their gifts were chosen from the family’s Christmas wish list.

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Radiology Department team members donated Thanksgiving food baskets to 23 families in need.

Radiology Department team members from five locations – the University Campus, the Memorial Campus, the Hahnemann Campus, the Ambulatory Care Center and Shrewsbury Radiology – joined together to donate Thanksgiving food baskets for 23 Girls Inc. families. This was a record high for this 20-plus-year department tradition of giving thanks by giving to others. The effort was coordinated by Marcia Amaral and Steve Beaudoin with help from coordinators and contributors in every division!

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Robyn Stokowski, Anticoagulation Clinic supervisor (right), helps “stuff a cruiser.”

The Anticoagulation Clinic is helping to “stuff a cruiser” at the Hahnemann Campus to benefit Friendly House in Worcester.

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The Department of Pediatrics administrative staff participated in a “Reverse Advent Calendar” this year. Their 24-day calendar didn’t give them gifts; instead, each day listed a food item for them to donate, such as cereal, canned goods, pasta and dessert mixes. The team is filling a large box with the items they donated and delivering it to the Worcester County Food Bank in Shrewsbury.

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Members of the Office of Clinical Integration team

The Office of Clinical Integration Wellness and Employee Engagement Committee coordinated its traditional and ever-popular daily fundraising drawings in November. Twenty-four prizes were donated by co-workers, and more than $400 was raised for the grand prize winner’s charity of choice, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Office of Clinical Integration team members also supported the annual Department of Children and Families Holiday Party with gifts for children and families in our community.

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Patients in the Lakeside 3 intensive care unit and stepdown unit will receive homemade cards on Christmas day.

The nurses on the Lakeside 3 stepdown unit brought their children in to make homemade Christmas cards for patients in the Lakeside 3 intensive care unit and stepdown unit who will be in the hospital on Christmas day. The children were rewarded for their community spirit with pizza and cookies.

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 The University Campus Oncology Pharmacy, Ambulatory Care Center fifth and sixth floors, University Campus Inpatient Pharmacy and Memorial Campus Pharmacy sponsored six families from the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, purchasing wish-list items such as toys, clothing, coats, gift cards and stockings. The families ranged in size from two to four members, and the number of families sponsored by this group grew from one in years’ past to six this year!

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The University Campus Oncology Pharmacy, Ambulatory Care Center fifth and sixth floors, Infusion Suite staff and Interventional Radiology staff designated four elves to purchase wish-list items for five animal shelters – four in Worcester County and one in Connecticut. The group collected $500 and donated items such as food, beds, cat litter, toys and cleaning supplies.

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Seventy-five households benefitted from the GenX Millenial Employee Resource Group’s grocery-shopping trip.

The GenX Millennial Employee Resource Group, armed with funds from our United Way of Central Massachusetts Summer Strong and Beyond campaign and a shopping list developed by Kattia Corrales-Yauckoes, MS, RD, LDN, set out on a group grocery-shopping trip that benefited 75 food insecure households in Worcester County. The bags of groceries, with Corrales-Yauckoes’ “Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget” sheet in each one, were delivered to the Pernet Family Health Services and Friendly House food pantries. Groceries were also delivered to the New Citizen’s Center School for students to bring home to their families. This effort was supported by caregivers from numerous departments at all levels throughout UMass Memorial Health Care.

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The Pediatric Endocrinology Department is donating a gift card to Walmart or Target to the family of a type 1 diabetes patient to help them purchase gifts for the holiday. The staff also purchases several smaller gift cards that are given as a surprise gift to some of their teenage diabetes patients.

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The Physician Referral Services team with holiday gifts for a Friendly House family

The Physician Referral Services team adopted a family through Friendly House in Worcester and have purchased and wrapped toys, games, DVDs, gift cards and clothes for the family.

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The Office of the General Counsel is collecting food items to donate to the Food Pantry at Saint Bernard’s Church in Worcester.

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Roxanne Vallejo Torres and Susy Felciano with items donated for Project Just Because

Staff at Marlborough Medical Associates are collecting donations of winter clothing, baby formula, diapers and more for Project Just Because. The organization is dedicated to helping men, women and children by being a resource for items that families need while creating an element of hope for a brighter tomorrow.

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Pictured are Giving Tree organizers Barbara Wray and Linda Shelton.

The Transplant Team sponsored a Giving Tree with all gifts going to Abby’s House local women’s shelter. The gifts were delivered to a very grateful staff.

Share Stories and Photos of Your Holiday Acts of Kindness!

happy holidays Every year, our Medical Center caregivers exemplify the spirit of the holiday season by participating in activities that bring assistance and joy to less fortunate members of our community. And every year, we dedicate two special editions of News & Views to sharing these acts of kindness carried out by our Medical Center departments and teams. Is your team involved in a collection, fundraiser or other initiative to support community agencies and families in need? Please email your short news item and photo by December 13 so we can recognize your generosity. See what ran last year: Part 1 and Part 2.

Your Health Matters: A Plank a Day Goes a Long Way

The warmer weather rolling in is a great reminder that June is Great Outdoors Month. If you’re looking to have fun and commit to physical fitness indoors or out, try planking! Planking exercises your core abdominal muscles, which can minimize lower-back pain and improve your posture. 

Make sure you’re planking correctly and explore different planking positions to find the right one for you. Got the hang of it? Tweet your planks on Twitter using the hashtag plankaday. Benefits-eligible employees: Plank with a team to track 1,000 minutes of planking and earn 100 points in the “Crank Those Planks!” challenge on the myHealth Matters website.

Ask the Expert: Dr. Busconi Answers Shoulder Pain Question 

Dr. Busconi

Does your child complain of shoulder pain from throwing while playing softball or baseball? He or she might be suffering from an overuse injury or a stress fracture. In this week’s Ask the Expert video, Brian Busconi, MD, chief of sports medicine and arthroscopy, explains signs and symptoms. Be sure to follow our spring sports Ask the Expert series on our Facebook page and stay tuned for future topics in the fall. View video.

Health Watch: Gynecology 101 with Celeste Straight, MD

A woman’s health care can be complicated. As we navigate different stages of life, our health needs change, as do the screenings we get and the physicians we see. For example, your daughter just began menstruating; when should she see a gynecologist? You and your partner are thinking about starting a family; when should you consult with an obstetrician? Your mother is in her 70s; does she need to continue seeing a gynecologist annually? Celeste Straight, MD, obstetrics and gynecology, helps simplify the answers to these questions and more in this segment of Health Watch. Watch the video, below, and visit Simply Women for easy access to additional women’s health resources. #SimplyWomen

Calendar of Events


United Way: Help Improve Lives for Those Who Need It Most


Dr. Dickson

In his most recent blog post, President and CEO Eric Dickson, MD, noted that as a health care organization,the Medical Center addresses about 20 percent of a patient’s overall health needs, but that close to 80 percent of overall health is shaped by social determinants that can act as barriers to good health. “To succeed in providing true overall health to our patients, we must address the social determinants within our patient population that have a negative impact on health,” he said. “This is the reason we team up with the United Way of Central Massachusetts every year.” Read the Everyday Innovators blog to learn more.

Make your United Way pledge by Friday, April 13 for a chance to win an iPad or one of five $100 American Express gift cards.


Hot Topic at Schwartz Rounds: Stress


Attend the upcoming Schwartz Center Rounds, “Providing Compassionate Care in Times of Stress,” Friday, April 13, noon to 1 pm (lunch 11:45 am). Place the forum in your schedule by downloading the outlook calendar appointment. Located in the Faculty Conference Room, S1-342, University Campus, this event is an opportunity to discuss the role stress plays in providing compassionate care. Featured panelists include Thomas Guggina, MD, Boris Lorberg, MD, Christine Runyan, PhD, and Jennifer LaFemina, MD. One contact hour will be provided for nurses and physicians, and preregistration is not required. Email SchwartzRounds@umassmemorial.org with questions, ideas for topics or to join the rounds planning committee. Learn more.

Dr. Schaal Featured in Retina Today


Dr. Schaal

Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, chair of the Ophthalmogy Department and one of only four female retinal specialists in the United States serving in the role of ophthalmology department chair, was recently featured in a Retina Today article titled, “Women in Retina, Leading the Way.” In the article, Dr. Schaal expresses her gratitude toward her mentors for giving her opportunities for growth, and assures other women that they are capable of chairing a department if that’s what they aspire to do. She also encourages women to establish relationships, and seek guidance, advice and inspiration from other professional women who face similar challenges.

Celebrate Breakthrough Ideas: Visit Everyone, Everyday Website


credo-bits-2If you weren’t able to attend an Everyone, Everyday film festival last month, learn more about the featured teams being celebrated for their breakthrough ideas on our revamped Everyone, Everyday website. We want to hear your team story! Share an innovative idea that has resulted in better access to our services, improved quality of care, or enhanced the patient or caregiver experience. Send in the name of your team, department or unit, campus and your idea by April 30 and you’ll be considered for inclusion in a future phase of Everyone, Everyday!

You can contact us one of two ways (include a team photo if possible):