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Children from grades three through eight from Visitation BVM School in Trooper, Pa., "adopted" patients from Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. The patients, located on the Levy 9 unit, are frail elderly with psychiatric and medical conditions. The majority of these patients are poor and many are admitted to the hospital owning only the clothes are their back.
The partnership was created five years ago by Carol Stupka, RN, a registered nurse on the unit (shown in photos), who is dedicated to making sure the program continues. Students earn money by doing chores at home which they donate for the purchase of much needed items for the patients, such as toiletries, underwear, socks and warm clothing, including sweat pants, shirts and jackets.
"The new clothing and toiletries really help to boost patients'self esteem and sense of dignity," Stupka says. Staff on the unit create a "Caring Cart" with the new items and patients select the things they need. As part of the partnership, Stupka visits the class each year to discuss homelessness and mental illness and she brings a huge "Thank You" banner with personal notes of gratitude from the patients (displayed on chalkboard in photos).