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December CONSULT

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When giving during the holidays, consider UMMC patient needs

Published on Sunday, December 1, 2019

By: Ruth Cummins

During the holiday season, University of Mississippi Medical Center patients and their families need extra cheer. There are plenty of ways to help not just children, but adults young and old who are cared for at UMMC hospitals and clinics.

Shopping bags for transplant recipients that hold supplies intended for comfort and medical care. Toiletries and clothing for hospitalized patients arriving without them.

Snacks and restaurant gift cards for family members who wait long hours for loved ones to complete surgeries or a hospital stay. Respite care for families of patients who cope with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

University of Mississippi Medical Center employees every day strive to provide support for adult patients and their families with needs related to a hospital stay or treatment plan. Sometimes, employees dip into their own pockets. But generosity from the community, especially during the holiday season, is much appreciated.

“People are away from their homes and families, and they’re here because they need to be here,” said Hillary Basden, manager of patient experience programs in the Office of Patient Experience. “We want to give them the comforts of home to the best of our ability.”

To support the UMMC Patient Care Fund, click here.

The Office of Patient Experience provides support services for patients and families, and UMMC’s Volunteer Services program is under the Patient Experience umbrella. Patients are grateful for help from the community, not just during the holidays, but during the heat of July or the rain of April. In addition to material goods, Basden said, dedicated, committed volunteers ages 16 and up are needed.

“We have a plethora of volunteer jobs available, and we need people willing to come in once a week for a two- to four-hour shift. It can be morning, noon, evening or weekends, and we can accommodate schedules,” she said. “Volunteers help our care teams in taking care of patients and family members.”

The Medical Center has a detailed application and interview process for volunteers. When community members want to do something special for UMMC patients, “the service of your time is equally or more important,” said Amy Cottrell, volunteer coordinator in Volunteer Services.

Other needs that individuals and groups can meet include supplying individually prepackaged and non-expired snacks such as cookies, peanut butter crackers or fruit gummies; puzzle books such as word searches, crossword or Sudoku; travel-size toiletries; and magazines, including hunting and fishing or men’s health.

“We go through about 700 snacks a week in the adult hospital areas,” Basden said.

“There’s a huge need for gift cards, and they can’t be greater than $15,” she said. “Gift cards to McDonald’s and Subway are especially helpful because we have those restaurants at the Medical Center.”

Give of your time or other needed resources by contacting Basden at lbasden@umc.edu, calling Volunteer Services at 601-815-7001, or calling the Office of Patient Experience at 601-984-2068.

The Office of Patient Experience strives to build relationships with patients and families that improve patient care.

“There’s more to healing than the physical part,” Basden said. “There’s a spiritual, mental and emotional part of healing, and making the human connection. We count on our UMMC volunteers, and they make a huge impact every day in helping us promote patient- and family-centered care.”

Also casting a wide net to meet patient needs is the UMMC Alliance, a volunteer organization that promotes goodwill and fellowship through support of unmet patient needs, the campus chapel and art acquisitions. Members of the Alliance – both employees and from the community – aspire to enhance the patient and student experience at UMMC.

To help, send an email to the Alliance at UMMC-Alliance@umc.edu or click here.

UMMC’s transplant patients have unique needs, and the nonprofit University Transplant Guild strives to meet them so that they can care for their new organs, said Guild president Olivia Milner, an administrative assistant in transplant services.

“Every patient gets a kit when they come into the hospital,” she said. “It includes a robe, a notepad to take notes when their doctor comes into their room, and a bag to carry home their prescriptions. They can keep all of their transplant materials together.” As of Nov. 25, 187 newly transplanted patients received kits during 2019.

The Guild raises money and accepts donations to cover patient comforts and other assistance they might need after their surgery, logging 111 instances of support since September 2018. “Because transplant is such a major surgery, people can be out of work for quite some time,” Milner said. “Things can happen financially that they aren’t prepared for, and that’s where the Guild steps in.”

Helping a transplant patient often equates to helping their entire family, Milner said. The Guild has provided 100 meal vouchers for family members since August 2018.To assist the Guild, click here.

The Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases treats thousands of patients living with HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C, said Mary Jones, the division’s social work manager. “We always need help with food, clothing, gift cards for food or other items, and assistance for gas to get to appointments,” she said. Reach out to help patients by emailing Jones at Mljones@umc.edu

A chief need at the Medical Center’s MIND Center is respite care for families of patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, said Denise Lafferty, chief of strategy and operations officer. “If they are the caregiver, they need someone to stay with mom or dad so that they can take care of themselves, such as going to a doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store,” she said.

MIND stands for Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia.

“Families might need to do Christmas shopping for the kids, and if they have to take mom with them, that causes more stress for the patient as well as the family,” said Jennifer Knight, MIND Center nurse care coordinator.

Adult day care runs about $50 per day, Knight said. “So many families love this and need this, but they can’t afford it,” she said.

To help patients and families with respite care, food and clothing, or other needs, contact the MIND Center at mindclinic@umc.edu

In order to protect patients, there are policies in place outlining what items can be accepted for donation at the Medical Center. Also, depending on what donations are received, the list of needs changes from time to time.  

It’s always a good idea to contact the Office of Development at 601-984-2300 before collecting items for donation. Or, send an email to UMMCDevelopment@umc.edu.

The above article appears in CONSULT, UMMC’s monthly e-newsletter sharing news about cutting-edge clinical and health science education advances and innovative biomedical research at the Medical Center and giving you tips and suggestions on how you and the people you love can live a healthier life. Click here and enter your email address to receive CONSULT free of charge. You may cancel at any time.