When she turned the final corner and saw the half marathon finish line, Mary Koleff-May, Magnet/Education Director at Swedish Covenant Hospital, doubted that she was going to make it. But, with the encouragement of her running partner, Kathy Donofrio, and the simple words “whatever you do, smile when you cross that finish line,” Mary kept going.
Mary and Kathy were two of the 50 Team SCH runners who completed the Magnificent Mile Half Marathon & 5K on Sunday, September 6. Team SCH, including nurses, physicians, administrative staff, donors and community members, raised more than $13,000 to support a new program at Swedish Covenant Hospital that was created to strengthen the hospital’s capacity to identify and respond to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
It was the encouragement of Kathy Donofrio, Chief Nursing Officer at Swedish Covenant Hospital, and the cause that influenced Mary to train for and finish her first half marathon.
“There is a need to empower women in our community,” Mary said. “There is a lack of awareness among the populations we serve on issues of interpersonal violence. We, as a hospital, need to have a collective effort to support these victims.”
The program aims to create comprehensive screening and referral protocols and regular staff trainings; provide seamless referral and safe transportation to emergency shelters; create patient education materials; and formalize partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse community organizations.
Funds raised through Team SCH will help to purchase care packages for victims of violence that seek care through our emergency department. When women come into our emergency department who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking or sexual assault, it is often not safe for them to return home. Care packages will provide self-care items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, face wipes, comb, shower gel, hand sanitizer and lotion that a woman may need whether she is going to stay with friends, family or at a shelter. In some cases, the additional support of vouchers for food and transportation will make this difficult time just a little bit easier.
Cristin Hurley was the top fundraiser for Team SCH and raised more than $1,200 for the program. As a paralegal at Swedish Covenant Hospital for 11 years, the race was a meaningful way for Cristin to give back to her community.
“Many women have nowhere to turn when facing abuse, and I felt that this was a great initiative to give them a new chance to start over,” Cristin said. “I enjoy fundraising for people less fortunate, it makes finishing the race much more memorable.”
This cause is particularly important to Maggie Simmons, who also completed her first half marathon with Team SCH.
As a nurse in the emergency department, Maggie sees many women who come through the emergency department that will benefit from the program. It was the opportunity to raise funds for much needed resources, as well as to raise awareness of the program, that inspired her to run with Team SCH.
“The race gave me the opportunity to spread the word about this much needed program at Swedish Covenant Hospital,” Maggie said. “So many people weren’t aware of the services that we provide to victims of violence, and I was able to help to change that.”
In recognition Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a tree in the lobby of Galter Medical Pavilion at Swedish Covenant Hospital has been adorned with purple ribbons. Community partners for the violence prevention program joined Swedish Covenant Hospital staff to decorate the tree earlier this month. The tree will remain decorated for the month of October to build awareness of domestic violence in our community. To learn more about the violence prevention program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here.
Do you have a race coming up that you would like to dedicate to Swedish Covenant Hospital? To learn more about using your upcoming event as a way to benefit an area of your choosing at Swedish Covenant Hospital, visit the Team SCH web page or contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 989-6255. More information will be available about the 2016 Team SCH fundraiser in the spring. Stay tuned!