2008 Report the Community

Aurora caregivers make a difference in patients' lives

The Aurora Partnership Campaign, Aurora Health Care's annual charitable giving campaign, gives them the opportunity to extend that good work. The Aurora Partnership Campaign's 2008 goal was to raise $2.4 million for community organizations and Aurora programs.

Aurora caregivers responded to the challenge! In a strong statement of commitment by caregivers, the campaign collected $2,426,691.

Major drivers of the campaign's success were the 438 Leadership Givers (caregivers who pledged $1,200 or more) and Aurora's physicians, many of whom were also Leadership Givers.

Caregivers can choose from more than 1,600 organizations and funds. The choices include 115 Aurora programs for the underinsured, women's health, flu, mobile meals, cancer counseling, hospice, nursing education and more. Non-Aurora organizations include the American Heart Association, United Way, Deanna Favre Hope Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, food pantries, scholarships, animal shelters, museums and many others.

There is certain to be one – or several – that has touched each caregiver's life or the lives of their family, friends and neighbors. If not, they have the option to write in their favorite organization, if it qualifies as a 501(c) (3) health and human services agency located in Wisconsin.

Lisa Just, vice president and chief administrative officer at Aurora Medical Center in Washington County, gives through the Aurora Partnership Campaign because it's an easy way to support some funds that are very dear to her.

“Giving to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic is top on my list as it makes me feel connected to my mother,” she says. “The clinic provided her with great resources and comfort as she battled her cancer, and it feels good to be able to give back to them.” Lisa's mother, a healthy breast cancer survivor of eight years, lost her battle to kidney cancer six years ago.

This year, Lisa has identified some local funds, and continues to include Special Olympics in her pledge as well. “I've been a champion of the Special Olympics since volunteering for them as a physical therapy student. And of course I like to support the United Performing Arts — qualifying for the discounted tickets is an added bonus.”

Shirley Scriver, a recently retired medical technologist at Aurora Medical Center in Two Rivers, helped design the healing garden at the hospital, and gives to that fund through the Aurora Partnership Campaign. Earning an associate degree in horticulture a few years back, Shirley has always had a passion for plants, and feels the healing garden really makes a difference to everyone.

“Nature is healing and reflective,” says Shirley, “and helps calm our patients, their families and our caregivers.”

The healing garden, with its gazebo, pond and waterfall, will be featured in the 2009 Garden Walk, an impressive recognition by Manitowoc County Master Gardeners. Caregivers eat lunch in the garden, and patients and other visitors stroll through, locating flowers and plants from a map that Shirley developed.

The distinctive flagstone wall and commemorative walkway were funded through the Aurora Partnership Campaign.

"Thank you to all caregivers and physicians across the organization who found an organization that touched their hearts and then made a pledge," said Michelle Johnson, manager of community partnerships. "Once again Aurora employees have stepped up and showed they care. This is a clear message to the communities we serve."

Aurora Partnership Campaign dollars in action

Imagine walking your kids to school when a pit bull attacks you. The dog bites you twice, but luckily you sustain no life threatening injuries. Three months later, though your physical scars have healed, anxiety, fear and isolation overwhelm you. You stay inside most days. Outings that were once enjoyable, like playing with your kids at the park, are now just watched from your car. Being outside is just too scary.

This is a true story of a young mother of three from the south side of Milwaukee. Three months after the attack, she went to Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic for a health visit. The doctor noticed symptoms of anxiety and depression and suggested she talk to volunteer psychologist, Leslie Davis.

The treatment for the patient's phobia included the help of Leslie's 9-year-old mixed breed dog, Taos. Leslie and the patient set up a plan that included bringing Taos to the patient's home. First, the patient viewed the dog through her window. As she felt more comfortable, she allowed her children to go outside and pet Taos. Then, she stood by the door and soon stepped outside of the house, petted Taos a couple of times and finally joined the group for a walk around the neighborhood.

While the patient is still participating in talk therapy with Leslie, she is making great strides toward a full recovery. In fact, Leslie states, "just last week I saw her and her kids at a neighborhood health fair." This story might have turned out differently for the patient. After all, she had no health insurance.

Being uninsured is common in the 53204 zip code, where Walker's Point clinic is located. This area has the highest number of uninsured people in Milwaukee County. In fact, the rate is over double what you find in other uninsured areas. But thanks to the generosity of Aurora Health Care and its caregivers, Walker's Point clinic has been open and helping uninsured patients for the past 16 years.

Walker's Point is just one of hundreds of organizations supported by the Aurora Partnership Campaign.

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