Friday, June 8, 2012

Being Conscious of Those in Distress and Working to Alleviate It.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines compassion as sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with the desire to alleviate it. We certainly see compassion among our teammates in our healthcare system every day. When we or our loved ones are hurting, we are looking for compassion and therefore, compassion for all who are in distress is a requirement of our vision.

Once a year, we gather nominations from our people of those among us who are exemplars of compassion; those who demonstrate compassion more often, more deeply, more consistently, than the rest of us. We had many nominees this year who were deserving of recognition for their compassion.

Heidi Dorsey (L) and Amy LaMoure (C)
accept their Compassionate Caregiver Award
So, once again, we have called out a winner of the GBMC Compassionate Caregiver Award. Actually, we called out two winners at a ceremony this past Wednesday. They are: Heidi Dorsey, LGSW and Amy LaMoure, LCSW-C, social workers at the Towson Inpatient Unit of Gilchrist Hospice Care who work together to help patients at the end of life and their families. 

Their co-workers nominated Heidi and Amy because they routinely demonstrate true compassion. They call them both gentle and kind and point out their sensitivity to patients and families “in shock” with a new diagnosis or sudden decline. It is very easy for caregivers dealing with dying patients to develop their own defense mechanisms and distance themselves from the pain.

Heidi and Amy were recognized for being able to be “present minded” even though they have “seen this before” knowing that it is the patient and family’s “first time.” One colleague said that Amy and Heidi “ask questions that others can’t and think of things the family has forgotten.” Some ways that Amy and Heidi have supported patients and families include the special celebrations of birthdays, baptisms, and even weddings! The colleague said: “They advocate for patients to make final hopes reality.”

Another colleague remarked in her nomination that Amy and Heidi “can often be found on the unit after their ‘shift’ ends, closing the loop with families they come in contact with who could not make it in during regular hours.” They often take calls when off duty. Amy and Heidi never show the frustrations of the fragmented health care system to patients and families.

I read through the pages of valedictory comments submitted by Amy and Heidi’s co-workers and I realized that they are a model of compassion for all of us to try and emulate.

Congratulations Heidi and Amy! And thanks to all at GBMC who are compassionate every day.

A group photo from the Compassionate Caregiver Awards ceremony
Compassionate Caregiver Award Honorable Mention recipients include anesthesiologist John Kuchar, MD; Christine Clevenger, RN, a Gilchrist Hospice Care homecare nurse; pathologist Howard Siegel, MD; and Ruth Nolan, a volunteer at Gilchrist Hospice Care. 

Another area of our system where concern and compassionare always on display is Oncology Services, and last weekend, GBMC celebrated its 21st annual National Cancer Survivor Day. More than 240 GBMC patients, family members and staff attended a "paradise themed" celebration. 

Survivors enjoyed food, fun and festivities as well as a message of Health, Healing and Hope. Speakers included Marshal Levine, MD, GBMC Oncologist/Hematologist, who summarized what makes GBMC special and unique when treating those diagnosed with cancer, and GBMC four-year cancer survivor and motivational speaker Vicki Hess, RN CSP, author of Shift to Professional Paradise. In her keynote address, Hess spoke about her experience of practicing what she preaches; lessons she learned when she herself was diagnosed with cancer and how to shift to "personal paradise."

In addition, 23 GBMC staff members were nominated for the Susan M. Murphy Making a Difference award with Donna Lewis RN, recently retired manager oncology support services, recognized as the winner for her many contributions to the GBMC oncology program. The patient award was given to Marci Cooke, a four year GBMC colon cancer survivor, for her work in raising funds and awareness in the community through the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.


  1. Don't forget about the Compassionate Caregiver Award given posthumously to Etna Weinhold. It was a lovely part of the ceremony.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous. Yes, absolutely, I should mention that at the beginning of the ceremony we recognized Etna Weinhold posthumously for the beautiful gift of the compassion she showed throughout her wonderful career at GBMC.


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