Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrating the Life of Etna Weinhold, a GBMC Icon

ICON [ahy-kon] – a person or thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community, or cultural movement.

As many of you already know, GBMC lost one of its icons last week. Etna Weinhold, Clinical Manager of Units 25/26 – Postpartum, was a symbol of the GBMC community. Sadly, she succumbed to cancer on November 10.

I had the good fortune of knowing Etna, and although we didn’t work together closely for a long time, it was obvious to me from day one that she clearly and deliberately embodied GBMC’s values. And she did so for each of the 40 years that she worked here. I chose to dedicate this installment of the blog to Etna’s memory because her lifelong commitment to caring for so many – family, friends, fellow Americans, employees, patients and their families – was truly remarkable and, in fact, iconic.

A former field nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corp, devoted wife, mother of four and grandmother of eight, Etna literally touched the lives of thousands of people. In her role as clinical manager of the postpartum units, she helped revolutionize the way that new mothers at GBMC recovered from childbirth by making their rooms more comfortable, like home or a hotel. Improvements also featured accommodations that allowed fathers to stay in the recovery room with their wives and newborns, which many women consider a necessity today, and “hidden” medical equipment to create a less sterile atmosphere. These approaches made a big difference to women and their families.

Etna herself was a comforting presence to those on her unit. Her attentiveness and genuine interest in every patient was evident.

In a recent tribute to Etna, news reporter Kerry Cavanaugh summed up the feelings of many, saying, “I was one of more than 4,000 women to have a baby at GBMC that year [2008], but when Etna knocked on my door and introduced herself, she made me feel like the only patient on the unit.” I can say without hesitation that Etna worked tirelessly to provide the kind of care she would want for her own loved ones. There was also a beautiful tribute to Etna in today's Baltimore Sun.

At the funeral home on Monday afternoon, I was moved by the number of Etna’s colleagues who approached me to share stories about the impact she had on their careers and lives. By all accounts, she was always looking out for the best interests of her staff, her patients and GBMC, always enjoying her work and taking pride in it, always committed to serving others.

Keeping Etna in mind, I’d like for all of us to take some time to reflect on our own lives and the way in which we care for others. Let’s strive to follow her lead.

If you have your own stories or memories of Etna that you’d like to share, you are welcome to post them in the comments section.

I’d also like to take a moment to recognize the group of volunteers who made the fall 2011 Nearly New Sale an outstanding success. They, too, have made a significant commitment to caring for the community and GBMC.

Did you know that it takes 75 to 80 dedicated Nearly New volunteers (plus 30-40 extra “day” volunteers who help on the sale days) more than 12,500 hours to prepare for, hold and clean up from each sale? Under the leadership of Nearly New Chair Loretta Reynolds and Director of Volunteer Services Cynthia Fager, the team not only accepts donations, but sorts and prices them, stocks them on shelves/racks, sells them and counts the money, then starts the process over again.

At a special celebration event held at the Elkridge Club last Friday for the Nearly New volunteers, it was announced that the recent fall sale raised $143,140, topping all previous sales! This brings the total amount raised between spring of 2000 through fall of 2011 to an astonishing $2,930,540, which has all gone directly to GBMC’s Volunteer Auxiliary Patient Care Fund. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who participates in these sales.

Lin Hardy ,Nearly New Treasurer, announces the sale's total.

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