Issue 5 Stories
Philanthrophy

The White Rose Giving Circle: Celebrating 10 Years of Women Making a Difference

In 2010, the Sentara RMH Family Birthplace was given a GlideScope, a device that enables an airway tube to be inserted quickly into a patient’s throat. Within days, that GlideScope was used to save a mother’s life.

“Lucy Weston, MD, was the only anesthesiologist on call late one night when a patient developed an urgent medical need for general anesthetic,” recalls Frank Gordon, MD, a Sentara RMH anesthesiologist. “Although the patient’s airway initially looked adequate for intubation using conventional laryngoscopy, that technique proved unsuccessful. Dr. Weston then used the GlideScope to quickly secure the patient’s airway, providing oxygen to both her and her baby.”

Acquisition of the life-saving device came about thanks to a donation of funds by the White Rose Giving Circle. Before this GlideScope was purchased, the only other one available had been located in a different part of the hospital.

“Having only one GlideScope was not a good scenario,” says Tamlyn Ogden, then business manager for capital purchases at Sentara RMH. “But once we received the new GlideScope, purchased with this gift from the White Rose Giving Circle, it was used almost immediately to save a precious life.”

Local Women Helping Patients

Founded 10 years ago by 10 generous, visionary donors, the White Rose Giving Circle was brought together by Sherrill Glanzer, senior development officer, RMH Foundation. The group has been expanding ever since and today includes more than 80 members.

“I consider this one of my best ideas,” says Glanzer. “Our patients’ needs don’t always fit in to nice, neat budget cycles. Our hospital caregivers are so grateful to have the flexibility that these extra resources provide, to make sure our community always receives exceptional care.”

To join the Circle, which is made up entirely of women, each member makes an annual gift of at least $500 to the RMH Foundation and commits herself to participating in the group’s educational and philanthropic goals. Members also vote on how their pooled money will be used.

“These women are all about making a difference,” Glanzer says. “When we pool our resources, it makes our gifts so much more significant.”

The process of identifying the hospital’s needs begins in August each year, when Glanzer sends a letter to department heads and other hospital leaders, letting them know how much the Circle has available. Department heads then respond with proposals detailing how they can use the funds to enhance patient care.

“They need to make compelling requests that meet the Circle’s goals,” Glanzer says, noting that this year the group had $42,000 to give.

The Circle usually receives about 20 proposals, which are reviewed by the steering committee. At the October meeting of all the Circle members, those requesting funds come in to pitch their proposals to the group.

“Then we vote,” Glanzer says. “The women are fully invested in the dollars and the decisions we make.”

Members Getting Involved

Vicki Krauss, a nurse practitioner with the Sentara RMH Medical Group, has been a member of the Circle since it began. She likes being part of a group of women who care about helping others in the community.

“I like networking with women I never would have met otherwise,” says Krauss, of Harrisonburg. “We’re all on the same page and have the same goals in mind.”

Krauss is one of the few members of the Circle who have hands-on healthcare experience, so she’s impressed with the interest of other members in learning about what goes on in the hospital. For instance, the group has taken special tours of the new high-tech operating room and the Emergency Department to learn more about the hospital’s capabilities, as well as potential opportunities for upgrades.

Betty Chappell, a Circle member for three years, has found the tours and Circle meetings to be of great interest. In the past year, she has learned about how alternative medicine is being integrated into health care, and also about advancements taking place in the Sentara RMH Heart and Vascular Department.

Chappell, of Penn Laird, has found it particularly gratifying to make donations to nurses’ scholarships. Over the past two years, the Circle has given $12,000 to help four nurses earn their bachelor’s degrees.

Worthwhile Projects

Since its founding, Circle members have given an estimated $266,436 to support many of the hospital’s programs and services.

One example of the many beneficial projects supported by the Circle was the purchase of five handheld biofeedback systems, known as emWaves, thanks to a donation of $1,015 to the Hahn Cancer Center. The devices measure changes in heart rhythms and reflect back a patient’s emotional state, whether positive or negative. In the Cancer Center, the emWaves are used to help patients learn to cope with emotions associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“Patients can see how their emotions affect their heart rate,” says Elaine Dunaway, LCSW, a health counselor in the Cancer Center. “That helps them learn to shift from negative emotions to positive ones.”

Debra Hedrick, continuum integrated care manager at Sentara RMH, raves about how donations have helped patients served by her department. Continuum Care assists patients dealing with medically complex conditions during hospital stays and follows up with them to ensure that they have the support they need following a hospitalization. The Circle gave the department $9,000 in 2015 and $3,000 in 2016 to help with patient needs.

In one case, an oxygen-dependent patient who was transitioning into living on disability benefits could not afford to pay her electric bill.

“It was an emergency situation,” Hedrick says. “We paid her electric bill and talked to the electric company about her oxygen dependency, so that they wouldn’t turn off her service.”

In other cases, Continuum Care team members have visited the homes of patients being discharged to find that they have little or no food. Funds provided by the Circle allow them to buy food and other supplies for such patients in need. Continuum Care also has given out items such as gasoline cards, pill boxes, scales and thermometers, and last year they donated about $9,000 worth of medications to 55 clients.

“Our goal is to improve our clients’ quality of life,” Hedrick explains.

These gifts help clients reduce their healthcare costs. They ultimately help the hospital as well by reducing readmissions and patient use of acute care.

“We’re so grateful, because without help from the White Rose Giving Circle, there’s no way we would be able to meet our clients’ needs,” Hedrick notes. “The Circle has been a phenomenal blessing to this program, and our clients are so thankful for their help.”

Other examples of initiatives supported by the Circle’s gifts include a two-way radio for the Emergency Department, stair chairs for Orthopedics, ultrasound software for the breast clinic, Community Health presentation equipment and a carbon dioxide detector for the Sentara RMH Center for Sleep Medicine.

Glanzer says the women in the Circle are dedicated to improving healthcare services for the community.

“They love to see the wonderful things that happen with their donations,” she says. “They’re the best!

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Philanthrophy

The White Rose Giving Circle: Celebrating 10 Years of Women Making a Difference