The Frist Humanitarian Awards: Employees
Employee Recipient: Leolalinda Plameras, RN, BSN Intensive Care Unit, Doctors Hospital of Augusta, Augusta, GA
Wherever she is, whatever she is doing, Leolalinda Plameras works to make people feel at home. At Doctors Hospital of Augusta, that means caring for patients and families, as well as supporting coworkers. In the community, and in her native Philippines, that means everything from sponsoring Christian radio stations to purchasing and rehabilitating a house to serve as a youth drop-in center and gathering place in a tough neighborhood.
“Leola’s commitment to caring extends far beyond her work at Doctors Hospital and into our community,” says Doug Welch, president and chief executive officer. “Leola purchased a house in a crime-ridden neighborhood where there was a great need for help.”
In December 2016, that home became The Agape Children and Christian Ministries and was dedicated by giving out more than 50 pairs of shoes and socks, gifts from the donations received from the staff of the ICU and PCU departments at the hospital, volunteers, coworkers and her church.
The children’s facility and her work at Doctors Hospital would be enough for anyone’s schedule, but Plameras also works in a local nursing home, volunteers for multiple church-related activities and sup-ports a radio station, food drives and even a working rice field to provide jobs in the Philippine province where she grew up.
“I work almost seven days a week, but I believe the time is set aside for me by God,” Plameras says, adding that she doesn’t see how she could eliminate any of her charitable outlets.
“I love them all, whether it’s the children in Agape, the ministry fellowship or seeing the residents in the nursing home,” she says. “All I want is to make a difference in the lives of people — to have a positive impact on every person I meet, every day.”
Her many kindnesses draw people to her, whether that’s a child in need of some TLC or an adult who wants to help out.
“Kindness, care and acceptance are indeed a universal language, and I believe Leola speaks that language fluently,” says Linda Chavers, who volunteers at the Agape facility. “Although I only met Leola little more than two years ago, I have had ample opportunity to observe and admire her willing spirit to help and serve old and young alike.”
Employee Finalist: Elisabet (Liz) Harms, MSN, RN, CMRSN, PhDc Nurse, Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO
The moment she got a cancer diagnosis, Liz Harms was no longer the nurse, she was the patient – and the experience made an impression.
Soon after her second child was born in 2010, then-34-year-old Harms was told that she had stage IIC colon cancer. Surgery was scheduled for the next day, followed by five weeks of radiation therapy and 12 rounds of chemotherapy. She faced it all with grit and determination, first for her own survival, and then to help others.
She didn’t just volunteer for Stupid Cancer, a national organization that focuses on young adult cancer research and support; she organized a chapter at home in Denver and built it into a thriving support group. At Rose Medical Center, she is the captain of the hospital’s Undy 500 run/walk team, rallying her colleagues to participate in the annual event benefiting colorectal cancer research. She also participates in a young adult cancer survivor group and serves as a volunteer for a local health fair.
In 2016 she attended the Call on Congress to speak with Colorado Representative Mike Hoffman and Senator Michael Bennett about raising cancer awareness.
And of course, in her work as a bedside nurse at Rose Medical, she offers the empathy and support of someone who has been a patient herself. She wants her patients to see her as “An image of survivorship, in a positive light, that this diagnosis is not the end of the world but a challenge to overcome.”
Employee Finalist: Jeanne Marsala, BSN, RN, CPST-I Trauma Outreach Coordinator, Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center/Children’s Hospital, Las Vegas, NV
Accidents happen, but Jeanne Marsala will be quick to note that they don’t have to result in serious injury. And so she has mastered the art of explaining the importance of safety measures like car seats for toddlers, minimizing risk of falls for senior citizens, discouraging distracted driving and strapping on a helmet when you ride a bicycle.
As a nurse, Marsala has spent 18 years of her 30-year career in the NICU, and also has spent 20 years as the executive director of Safe Kids Clark County, the third-largest U.S. affiliate of the Safe Kids Coalition, a global organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. She does all the community outreach for the program in the area, teaching child passenger safety to parents and nursing students, and makes sure that no child leaves the hospital without a proper car seat.
“No audience is too insignificant to command her full attention,” says Todd Sklamberg, chief executive officer. “She’ll corral a hospital full of youth volunteers to stand on the street corners holding signs that urge motorists to drive safely.”
Her endless drive to educate others about how they can keep their children and themselves safe has earned her numerous awards and recognition, both locally and nationally.
Most important, though, the Las Vegas community is filled with people who can tell stories of lives saved because of what they learned from Marsala.
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