Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital Wins National Recognition for Patient-Centered Care
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Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital Wins National Recognition for Patient-Centered Care 

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Williamsburg, VA - October 21, 2005 - Representatives from Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital recently attended Planetree's annual conference in Chantilly, Virginia, where the hospital and staff were recognized nationally for some of its work to improve patient care under the Planetree umbrella.

Congratulations to Helen Powell, who was awarded the Planetree Spirit of Caring Caregivers Award; and the SWCH Block Buddies Program, which won the Planetree Spirit of Caring Award for Healthy communities. Special recognition also goes to Cooper, a Golden Retriever and volunteer for the SWCH pet therapy program, who was recognized at the event.

The Spirit of Caring Award recognizes an individual or program whose interactions with patients, staff and loved ones demonstrates respect for human beings as multidimensional individuals. It also recognizes the winner as one who performs work responsibilities with an appreciation for the interrelated functioning of body, mind and spirit in illness and recovery, and who realizes and models the importance of promoting teamwork and communication among various disciplines, believing that positive staff relationships result in better care for patients. Finally it recognizes an individual who, in their personal and work life, strives for a balance of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

"Receiving these awards was tremendous validation that our work within the Planetree alliance is having a profound affect on patient care," said Bob Graves, administrator of SWCH. "Helen Powell, the Block Buddies Program and even Coopers work in the Pet Therapy program are all shining examples of how we embody the spirit of Planetree every day. I'm proud of the work they do for our patients and our community."

Helen Powell, RRT-NPS, RPFT, is the manager for cardiopulmonary services at SWCH. Powell, a SWCH employee since 1979, is described by her peers as someone with a strong commitment to professional development and the highest standards for clinical care. She has long been seen as a manager who leads by example. Powell has been an active member of the Planetree Steering Committee since SWCH joined the alliance in 2002 and has worked to champion new programs and services aimed at benefiting the patient and employee experience.

Initially started in partnership with James City County for identified at risk neighborhoods in the county, the SWCH Block Buddies Program was established in August 1998 as a Health Promoter Program.

This program was created to provide information and improve access to health services for residents in low to middle income neighborhoods. The model included finding a champion or champions within each neighborhood that would rise to the challenge of assisting our Community Health Department by becoming their neighborhood health resource contact. As a Block Buddy they could encourage and coordinate neighborhood-based service delivery.

The early success of the program led the initial partners to realize the greater potential of expanding this program to communities throughout the greater Williamsburg area, not just in James City County. In 2001 the Block Buddies Program was transitioned to SWCH. Since its inception, Block Buddies has trained 45 champions, representing 17 different neighborhoods in the greater Williamsburg area to become health ambassadors in their communities.

The Block Buddies Program provides 15 weeks of intensive health education. All instructors for the Block Buddies Program are recognized health experts who have volunteered their time to teach classes on general safety precautions and blood borne pathogens, first aid and fevers, diabetes, cancer, nutrition and exercise, substance abuse, immunizations, disease prevention, medications, senior issues, HIV/AIDS and STDs, child development, CPR, asthma and allergies, and cardiovascular health. In exchange for this wealth of information, the Block Buddies agree to share what they have learned with their neighbors, friends, and family members.

Upon graduation they receive a wellness kit that includes a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, first aid kit and book and other items that will assist them in their promotion of health.

About Planetree:

Planetree is a holistic, patient-focused model of health care that encourages healing in all dimensions: mental, emotional, spiritual and social, as well as physical. More than 70 health care providers across the world practice the Planetree philosophy. Planetree was founded in 1978 with the goal of personalizing, humanizing and demystifying the health care experience for patients and their families.

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