Friday, February 21, 2003

The good, quiet work of CGH people

Fourteen employees hold confidential meetings from time to time throughout the year. They are acting for all of us in helping employees, retirees, and volunteers who are facing a crisis of one kind or another.

The fourteen employees[1] are members of the “CGH Employee Community Service Fund” – the same group that conducts our United Way campaign each fall. While raising funds for the United Way, the Fund also receives gifts to help co-workers in family emergencies.

Fund members usually meet in private to discuss the circumstances of those who may need assistance. Anyone, however, may attend the Fund’s annual meeting, which was held on February 12. The annual meeting is used to report on activities and answer questions about the Fund.

In 2003 the Fund distributed $26,331 to the United Way, helping charities across Central New York. It also distributed $12,725 in financial assistance within the CGH family.

Who benefits from such assistance? They may be co-workers, retirees, or volunteers who face an immediate family hardship caused by a problem with a spouse, a work interruption, the loss of child support payments, illness, fire, or death. Such events sometimes create dire situations for families.

Some employees apply to the Fund directly (applications are available in the Human Resources Department). Sometimes co-workers may ask the Fund to consider assistance in difficult situations they know of. The Fund assigns one of the fourteen members to meet with the individual and thoroughly review the situation. This is often difficult because it may involve embarrassment or emotional distress. So the Fund limits contact to a single member who keeps confidential the applicant’s name.

The Fund considers each situation on its merits. Often it asks for more information, including copies of bills or other documentation. Sometimes an individual may be asked to use the Employee Assistance Program that is available without charge to all employees. The Fund may also want assurance that an applicant has started to manage a bad credit experience and is actively working to improve the situation.

After reviewing the circumstances, the Fund may provide financial assistance to help a family bridge a difficult period. The fund has paid for utilities when cut-off was threatened, for family food and medical expenses, for rent, or for partial funeral costs. There are things the Fund will not pay for, such as cable television or car payments.

The Employee Community Service Fund does not make loans, and some applicants have been uncomfortable accepting such assistance without a repayment agreement. In these cases the Fund has encouraged individuals to repay the amount, when they are able to do so, by making donations to the Fund.

The Fund has assisted members of the CGH family with over $60,000 in financial assistance during its 11-year history. This is the good, quiet work of CGH people that benefits CGH people.

Many thanks are deserved by the fourteen employees who serve on the Fund, conducting interviews, holding the meetings, and keeping its records and accounts. But the ultimate appreciation belongs to all members of the CGH family[2] who support the work of the Fund with their annual donations and pledges.

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.

[1] Maureen Blackmeer, John Connor, John Carnowski, Cindy Cress (Past Chair), Tracy Fenner, Kathy Kendrick, Donna King, Toni Maxwell, Sharon McCue, Jim O’Brien, Leah Neider, Phil Sherwood, George Slavinski (Chair), and Jean Waldron. Ken Redmore has recently joined the panel, succeeding Leah Neider.

[2] Last fall 587 members of the CGH family (535 employees, 32 retirees, and 20 volunteers) gave $37,196 to the Employee Community Service Fund to support United Way charities and to benefit our fellow employees in times of need.

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