HCA Healthcare Hope Fund Week 2021: 44,000 hard times made better by each other
When it comes to overcoming challenges, hope is a powerful force. Through the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, our colleagues have shown up for each other – again and again – to prove that they are never alone in life’s most difficult moments.
The HCA Healthcare Hope Fund’s mission is to provide compassion and assistance to colleagues and their families in times of need. Since 2005, the colleague-run, colleague-supported 501(c)(3) charity has given over $75 million to more than 44,000 colleagues experiencing financial hardships due to illness, injury, natural disasters or other difficult situations that impact their essential needs. This year alone, more than $9 million has been distributed to colleagues who need hope and a helping hand.
“Every day, our HCA Healthcare colleagues show up for our patients, our communities, and each other,” said Sam Hazen, chief executive officer at HCA Healthcare. “It is truly a privilege to be part of this organization, where caring like family is not just something we say, it is who we are.”
As our organization celebrates Hope Fund Week 2021, we’re sharing how our colleagues have banded together to support fellow colleagues struggling with circumstances beyond their control.
A story of hope emerges in the wake of Tennessee tornado devastation
Derrick Coleman has worked at HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee as an operating room (OR) technician for nearly 27 years. Last year, his life was turned upside down by a powerful tornado that wreaked havoc on Middle Tennessee.
Derrick was at home with his mother and sister when the tornado hit. “We heard this loud noise like a tree hitting the house,” he recalled. “The lights went off, the TV went out… everything went out.”
After the terrifying storm passed, they realized the extent of the damage. “Half of my roof came off, a tree fell on my car, and my storage shed was blown into somebody else’s yard,” Derrick remembers.
Fortunately, Derrick and his family members did not sustain any injuries. However, they encountered other devastating hardships following the storm. Lacking electricity or water for nearly two weeks, food spoiled and eating out was a means for survival. For weeks, Derrick and his family used plastic tarps to temporarily cover the extensive roof damage.
At work, Derrick’s director advised him to apply to the Hope Fund to help with repairs, bills and food. His manager helped him with the online application. Within two days, he was approved for assistance.
Due to the widespread damage across the region, carpenters and repair people were in high demand, so Derrick and his mother still had to wait about two months for repairs to be done. In the interim, the assistance they received helped to ease their burden immensely.
Many months later, Derrick is glad to share everything is finally back to normal thanks in part to help from his colleagues through the Hope Fund. He said, “We are a family. I was so grateful for the help.”
Colleagues helping colleagues amid historic winter storm
In February of 2021, an unprecedented winter storm moved into Texas. Millions of people lost power in below freezing temperatures, including Lora Borklund, a transition manager for HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group. For four days, Lora and her family did not have any power or water and the temperatures dropped to 30 degrees in her living room.
Lora, her husband and their two sons huddled around the fireplace and bundled up to keep warm. Eventually, they went to stay with family. When they finally returned home after the thaw, they discovered the worst part of their experience – seven burst pipes, with water coming in from their ceilings, kitchen and laundry room.
The damage was extensive and repairs would take a long time. Plumbers and contractors were in high demand and had long waitlists to fix Lora’s pipes, replace waterlogged drywall, broken electronics and ruined furniture.
And, insurance coverage only took them so far. Luckily, her colleagues recommend applying to the Hope Fund for help and it wasn’t long before help was delivered. “I didn’t expect it to be so quick. I was crying tears of joy, I was so happy. I was so very touched, it was such a relief,” said Lora. “I knew my family would be okay.”
Lora’s advice for fellow HCA Healthcare colleagues? “I want colleagues to know how much people truly care and how easy it is to reach out for help. If you really need it, just know the Hope Fund is there to help.”
Providing help and hope in the fight against cancer
Katherine Bell, a senior accountant with HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group in Tennessee, had just welcomed a second child into her family when her life turned upside down. While still on maternity leave, she took her 2-year-old son, Harrison, to his pediatrician for a routine checkup. The doctor noticed something was not quite right and ordered an ultrasound. She never expected what was coming next.
“That day changed our lives forever,” Katherine said. “We found out he had liver cancer. It was all a whirlwind, with the new baby and uncertainty about my son.” Within a week, little Harrison was undergoing chemotherapy.
Before long, Harrison’s doctors determined he would need a liver transplant. His care put a strain on the couple’s finances, particularly because Katherine couldn’t work. After her maternity leave was up, she had some PTO, but looking after him during treatment and recovery meant extending her leave for more than seven months.
“With the time away from work coupled with medical bills, expenses started piling on top of each other,” she said. She didn’t think about applying to the Hope Fund until her colleagues suggested it.
“I never thought it would be something I would need,” she said. “I’m sure everyone who has needed it feels that way.” Katherine felt so grateful when she learned her family had been approved for assistance. “When we received the money, I felt like I could actually exhale. It was such a difficult time and it took so much stress off us when we found out we were getting help. We felt very blessed – it helped in so many different ways, and allowed us focus on what was most important – taking care of our children.”
Harrison received his new liver. He is now 4 years old and doing well. Katherine wants her colleagues to know the Hope Fund is there for them, thanks to the generosity of our own HCA Healthcare family. As a donor for more than 10 years, she said, “It’s such an amazing resource. I wish everyone would contribute because you just never know when you may be the one needing help. I think as a community, we need to help each other even if you’re donating just a little bit each month. If everyone could give, it would help so many more people.”
When a colleague’s home was damaged in a fire, Hope Fund donors were there
Gina Montes de Oca, a utilization review coordinator in Waco, Texas, has worked for HCA Healthcare for seven years. She and her family had been in their new home for only a month when the electricity suddenly went off. The area around her home had been experiencing recent power outages, so she didn’t think much of it at first.
The lights came back on, but went out again, so she decided to check her fuse box. To her alarm, she saw black smoke coming from the wall. “I opened the panel, and I saw a fire,” she said. She doused it with a fire extinguisher. “I called the fire department, and they said to get out of the house. I kept hearing a crackling sound. I grabbed my dog and walked outside.”
Firefighters told her that her quick action with the fire extinguisher kept her house from burning to the ground.
Gina and her family had to stay in a hotel for weeks while the house was cleaned, repaired and the fuse box was relocated.
Gina learned about the Hope Fund during her orientation, and donated money from every paycheck. Even so, she didn’t initially think of the Hope Fund to help in their situation. Their insurance deductible was well beyond any savings they had accumulated, and there were many other expenses related to the fire.
“Receiving assistance made all the difference,” Gina said. “It took a lot of the worry and stress away, and we were able to move back into the house. I was so grateful to be able to come back home.”
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About HCA Healthcare
HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.
As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.