Nursing and Patient Care Services staff are deeply committed to serving local, national and international communities and contribute their time and talents to making a difference. From helping out at a local food pantry, to participating in U.S. disaster relief efforts to supporting schools in Nigeria, here are just a few examples of how nurses and Patient Care Services employees are helping communities in need here and abroad.
Making a Difference in the Local Community
Name: Shubhankar “Shubi” Joshi
Role: Patient care assistant, Tower 10CD/12B, Neurosciences
Commitment to community from a young age: When Joshi was 12, his parents explained the importance of helping others, and he began volunteering at a local library. During college, he volunteered with pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, and he was a volunteer in Central Transport Services at the Brigham.
Eye-opening experience: Today, through the volunteer agency Boston Cares, Joshi helps the American Red Cross food pantry in his Dorchester community by packing shopping bags with fresh produce, canned goods and other items for local families in need and carrying the bags to their transportation. “I didn’t realize how great the need was,” says Joshi, who recently received the President’s Award from Boston Cares for achieving 100 hours of service within a year. “Sometimes we serve up to 500 people during one shift. So many people struggle to put food on the table each week, and I am thankful I can do my small part to help.”
Advice for volunteering: “Find an organization with a schedule that works with yours. Boston Cares provides a lot of flexibility and many different opportunities, locations and times. You can find one that is convenient for your daily or weekly routine,” he says.
Words to live by: “Facta Non Verba, Deeds Not Words,” the motto of Phi Delta Epsilon, an international medical fraternity to which Joshi belongs. “It’s not about what you say you’re going to do, but what you contribute through your actions,” he says. “I approach clinical care as a PCA with the same virtues as my volunteer work: compassion, dedication and enthusiasm.”
What’s next: Joshi, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry on the premedical track at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, plans to apply to medical school in the spring. He’ll continue to volunteer at the food pantry while helping at other organizations, including Community Servings, which provides meals to critically and chronically ill individuals, and the Boston Celtics.
Providing Disaster Relief to Communities throughout the Nation
Name: Eileen Searle, MPH, RN/NP, CCRN
Role: Professional development manager, Medicine
Serving Communities Nationwide
In addition to her role at the Brigham, Searle has been employed by D-MAT MA-1, a medical disaster assistance team run by the U.S. government, for the last seven years. Recent deployments with the team include hurricane relief in Florida and Puerto Rico. Brigham nurses Yaeko Karantonis, BSN, RN, of the Emergency Department, and Jenny Stone, BSN, RN, of Tower 11C, are also members of the team.
Why she does it: “The impact you’re able to have on patients and families during difficult times—you provide care and help put people in contact with necessary resources,” Searle said. “I also appreciate the opportunity to help our fellow health care providers in these locations.”
Most recent deployment: Panama City, Fla., in October. Searle traveled with MA-1 to assist with relief efforts after Hurricane Michael devastated the community. For nearly two weeks, the team was stationed alongside an evacuated hospital that kept its Emergency Department open. “They were seeing a high volume of patients because there was no other place for people to receive care,” she said. “We supported them in caring for patients and ensuring that local staff were able to take care of their own needs as well.”
Eye-opening experience: “You never get used to seeing the destruction caused by a hurricane or another disaster,” she says. “When we landed in Florida, it was shocking. Everything was broken. We treated a lot of injuries that happened when people were going back to their homes and trying to clean up the damage. We also cared for many people with acute exacerbations of chronic diseases. Their usual sources of care were disrupted; they couldn’t access pharmacies, dialysis or other services they needed.”
What’s next: Searle’s team is on call for three months each year and notified within that time if they need to deploy.
Supporting Childhood Education in Nigeria
Name: Father James Ojo, MA, BCC
Role: Staff chaplain and Catholic priest, Spiritual Care Services
Serving the international community: Ojo, a native of Nigeria who came to the U.S. in 2011, co-founded a nonprofit organization called Education Partners Nigeria (EPN) to support schools in the diocese of Idah.
Why he does it: As a student, Ojo benefited from the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church, which built schools across Idah. “Without the effort of the church, many children would have little or no opportunity to go to school,” he says. “Because of this, I have chosen to give back and join the effort to improve the education of children and develop school infrastructures. I want to help as many children and young people as possible.”
Eye-opening experience: Ojo says that up to 10 million children in Nigeria do not attend school. Without proper funding, many schools are poorly constructed and lack teaching materials, drinking water, a library and sanitation. There are not enough schools, especially in rural areas, and many teachers are not adequately trained.
Making a difference: In the last two years, EPN has provided a truck, drilled a borehole (a deep, narrow hole in the ground to access water) and delivered an overhead storage tank to schools in Idah. “These donations have changed the lives of students and administrators; they now have clean water and a means of transportation for food and other supplies,” he says. EPN has also provided books, computers and funds for enhancing school facilities.
What’s next: EPN aims to support about 30 schools in different communities across Idah and has a goal of raising $100,000 within the next year to build a block of six classrooms and offices in the village of Ofakaga. Ojo, who assesses the needs of various schools during annual visits to Nigeria, is working to find members to join the organization’s board or volunteer in other ways.