Women’s Giving Network Meets

We are deeply grateful for the community’s generous support. Every dollar given to our Suncoast Hospice Foundation helps sustain, expand or create Empath Health programs and services that enhance care, comfort and quality of life for people touched by illness and grief.

Imagine how having basic feminine hygiene products can uplift dignity and improve health of women with HIV. Consider how the sounds of music can calm and comfort hospice patients with dementia. These types of specialized services rely on the support of our community.

The Empath Health Women’s Giving Network (WGN), of now 21 members, recently joined together for its second year to give and make a difference. The group awarded $18,161 in grants for Empath Health care at its allocation luncheon on June 21. There was $18,000 in available funds and the remaining $161 was covered by a personal contribution from Empath Health Vice President of Innovation and Community Health Stacy Orloff and her husband, Bruce.

The WGN helps:

• Deepen community education and awareness of Empath Health
• Create new ambassadors for Empath Health
• Create an environment for empowered giving
• Provide funding for Empath Health programs and services that have no alternative revenue sources

“I’m so glad you all are here. It’s really exciting. None of these services have a source of funding but they can be very necessary for the care of patients and extend to the care of families,” welcomed Suncoast Hospice Foundation Vice President of Philanthropy Kathy Rabon at the luncheon.

EPIC’s Sheryl Hoolsema presents

Grant Awards

Crimson Movement – Funded $3,000
Feminine kits of tampons, pain reliever and underwear for hygienic care of EPIC clients

“Women come in looking for feminine products. Some homeless women may say, ‘If I’m trying to find a job and go in and I smell, then they are probably not going to hire me.’ What a choice to have to make. Women are at higher risk of cervical cancer if they don’t have proper hygiene.” – Presenter Sheryl Hoolsema

“I was horrified that women have this problem.” – WGN Member Pattie Meek

“I think this is an important need.” – WGN Member Deborah Martohue

Caring Touch Training – Funded $2,540
Train-the-trainer program for massage therapist to teach staff technique that comforts Suncoast Hospice patients

“This is a program I designed for our home health aides to help our patients. They use a very gentle touch with patients’ hands. There’s an exchange of energy – body, mind and spirit. It’s a positive result. The stress level drops and pain goes away.” – Presenter Danette Shalkowski

Music in Caregiving – Funded $2,500
Home health aides play downloaded music on waterproof MP3 players/speakers to comfort Suncoast Hospice patients

“Part of our organization’s strategic plan is to partner with facilities in our community to enhance quality of life and engagement of our patients. Home health aides on four of our teams have been trained in a variety of playlists that are made. The goals are to determine where patients are at before their showers, play the music during the showers and decrease their level of anxiety. We have evidence that visits have become more comforting and relaxing and patients have decreased anxiety, restlessness and stress and less instances of falls. It was commented that one patient loves Jazz music and was lost in the music with eyes closed and enjoyment of the water. Another comment was that with Spanish music, a patient became emotional and relaxed and was singing and pretending to play the guitar.” – Presenter Rachelle Hutchens

Ultrasound/TENS Unit – Funded $2,000
Therapeutic machine that comforts Empath Home Health patients after surgeries

“With the opioid crisis, this is an alternative therapy that can benefit our patients. We have two physical therapists each who do 25 visits a week. The benefits of ultrasound may include pain relief, faster healing, less chance of infections and less visits for the therapists.” – Presenter Anita Rasmussen

Suncoast Hospice’s Dr. Jasmin Jerez-Marte presents

Weighted Blankets – Funded $1,560
Specialized blankets that comfort patients at Suncoast Hospice Care Centers

“We pride ourselves on excellent care. One lady was extremely scared. The nurses gave her meds to calm her down but she was still yelling. I gave a gentle touch on her arm and back. I thought we needed a weighted blanket for her. After we put it on her, it took a couple of minutes for her to fall asleep and start snoring and we were able to give her less meds.” – Presenter Dr. Jasmin Jerez-Marte

Music to Our Ears – Funded $1,480
Teen volunteers play downloaded music on cell phones or iPod Touch devices to bring nostalgia and joy to Suncoast Hospice patients and others in our care

“This is an intergenerational program using the magic of music. We want to deepen the bond between our teen volunteers, patients, Suncoast PACE participants and others. The teens will personalize music for patients and play during visits.” – Presenter Randi Meyer

Care Notes – Funded $1,431
Inspirational messages for patients and families at Suncoast Hospice Care Centers

“These are succinct and beautifully-written messages about a variety of topics that patients and families are concerned about. We got such a great response. They have been a springboard for some wonderful conversations and dialogue with patients, families and care providers.” – Presenter Jim Andrews

Veterans Serving Veterans Volunteer Program – Funded $1,350
Empath Health-branded lapel flag pins that honor veterans we serve and in community

“We are the highest Level 4 designation in the national We Honor Veterans program. We take time to recognize veteran patients’ contributions of service and honor the impact it has had on their lives. Our veteran volunteers or staff present certificates of appreciation, lapel flag pins and stars cut from retired flags. It can be very emotional. Our branded pins will help us branch out in the community with pinning presentations and to raise awareness of our veterans program.” – Presenter Melissa Moré

Members deliberate funding

Air Mattresses – Funded $1,300
Bedding for staff and families sheltered at Suncoast Hospice Care Centers during storms

“Regardless of the weather, we take care of patients. We found a deficit in our North Pinellas Care Center during the three days of the storm (Irma) as not everybody had a place to sleep. We had staff working for 12 hours and sleeping on the floors.” – Presenter Grace Case

Creating a Healing Oasis – Funded $1,000
Reiki and aromatherapy to comfort clients served by the Suncoast Hospice bereavement program and Empath Health Community Counseling

“Reiki practitioners provide a sense of deeper relaxation through their energy. We invite survivors to come and experience the benefits of Reiki. We had one client who came to see me after her husband of 52 years died. She was a yogi whose balance was gone. Our volunteers provided her four sessions of Reiki and aromatherapy in her home and her anxiety decreased and she was able to sleep at night. We know it doesn’t take the grief away but it’s amazing at helping manage symptoms.” – Presenters Melissa Moré and Kathy Quance

Additional Giving

WGN member Suzan Decker-Ross committed an additional $1,500 to EPIC’s Crimson Movement project, as well as recruited a new WGN member who added her support.

WGN member Kathy Wilder committed $17,000 to the Teen Scholarship Endowment Fund, bringing the fund to the minimum necessary to provide annual college scholarships to teen volunteers.

“Our teens have something to celebrate and be proud of – they are part of the very first and biggest teen program in our country. We have had over 10,000 teens since our program started. In 2017, our teens made about 4,000 patient visits – that’s incredible. Our teens are the cream of the crop. They make a great impact on our community and planet. We want to keep them coming to us. Almost 100 percent of our teens continue to go on to college.” – Presenter Randi Meyer

Become a Member

To learn more about Women’s Giving Network membership, contact Carla Mattern at CarlaMattern@EmpathHealth.org or (727) 523-3414.