From left, Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Joel Wernick stands with Mended Hearts Chapter 165 President Nancy Askey and her husband Bob Askey during a group photo following an awards presentation at the hospital on Tuesday. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital was recently named the Mended Hearts Regional Hospital of the Year. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)
ALBANY — Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has been named the Regional Hospital of the Year from Mended Hearts, Inc., an award that was officially presented at a ceremony at the hospital on Tuesday morning.
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“Phoebe has been very lucky to have Mended Hearts as part of our organization,” said Dave Baranski, vice president of human resources at Phoebe. “Cardiologists and cardiac patients of our organization have reaped a lot of benefits based upon Mended Hearts.”
Mended Hearts is a national organization that strives to give hope and encouragement to cardiac patients and their families. Joel Wernick, president/CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, accepted the award at the Centennial Museum on the second floor of the hospital’s main campus.
“I accept this on behalf of all of our patients,” Wernick said. “Many people don’t realize that the Phoebe family comes in many different forms of people that show up everyday for a paycheck and work hard to earn that paycheck by providing caring service to our patients, but it also comes in the form of 700 volunteers we have here.
” … I always tell people at orientation that these people are here because they choose to be here, they take their time and service to our work force … Mended Hearts is unique in that each volunteer has a different focus.”
Wernick also noted that Mended Hearts is a unique volunteer organization in that many, if not all, have either been on the cardiac floor themselves or have had someone close to them who has — and that the chapter attached to Phoebe puts in roughly 5,000 hours a year.
“So not only are they telling something that they know about, they are sharing of themselves … where you are, I have been,” he said. “And of course volunteers come in a lot of distinctive colors. You can never miss the red vests that Mended Hearts has.
“The number of hours your put in is incredible, which is probably why you folks earned this recognition and Phoebe Putney gets a chance to share it because it is really all your hard work that has made all that happen — and we are blessed to have you.”
Albany area Mended Hearts volunteers visit heart patients six to seven days a week. Volunteers also make follow up visits, phone calls and send emails to provide continuing support and encouragement to patients and their families.
Phoebe was nominated for this award by Mended Hearts Chapter 165 President Nancy Askey, Phoebe’s current Volunteer of the Year, who attended the organization’s national conference in Indianapolis earlier in the summer. Both her and her husband, Bob, are Mended Hearts volunteers.
She worked on the cardiac floor of the hospital, and he has had a heart attack. She was described by Baranski as an individual with outstanding commitment and great compassion for cardiac patients.
In her remarks, Askey noted that Phoebe competed with 46 hospitals in seven states for the award.
“We also want to tell you how much we appreciate all your help and support you have given us over the last 31 years,” she said to Wernick before presenting him the award.
The award, signed by Mended Hearts Southern Region Director Fredonia Williams, was for the “grateful recognition of the hospital’s outstanding service to the Mended Hearts heart disease patients and to the community.”
Officials say that, in the nomination Askey submitted, Phoebe met all of the awards criteria, such as providing meeting space, allowing for approved patient visitation, providing space for supplies, having a consistent contact person and assisting with speakers.
In addition, officials said Askey submitted nearly 20 additional items, noting that Phoebe has been supportive of Mended Hearts for three decades.
Mended Hearts Southern Region is comprised of seven states – Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana.