When Oscar Abrahamsohn started a tradition of decorating HUP’s hospital ward in the late 19th century, he clearly couldn’t imagine the heights to which staff in patient units would bring this ritual. The Abrahamsohn Christmas & Easter Committee -– which faithfully continues the custom -– announced the five winners of the 2012 Tree Decorating Competition. As one member noted, “It gets harder every year to choose!”
When most people think about spreading holiday cheer, animals aren’t typically among the recipients. That’s not the case in Ravdin 9, which chose Santa Paws: Toys & Treats for Tails theme for this year’s competition as well as a community outreach project for the Delaware County SPCA. “The SPCA receives no government funding. It relies on private donations,” said Sitha Dy, who worked with Maria Nicolas to pull together this year’s winning theme. “And yet, it helps so many animals, and also provides low cost spaying and neutering, as well as vaccinations at cost.”
Hoping to help increase adoptions, Dy and Nicolas created animal ornaments, each of which contained a photo of, and information about, a cat or dog currently waiting at this SPCA for its “forever” home. They used the ornaments to decorate both an ‘adoption’ tree and a bulletin board, hoping those who visited the family waiting room might consider adopting a new pet. Their strategy has worked! “We put up photos of 103 animals and so far nearly 50 have been adopted,” Dy said.
The duo also encouraged coworkers to donate food, toys, and treats so the animals at the SPCA would have a merrier holiday as well. They brought the goodies to the shelter last week, along with the $150 the unit won in the tree decorating competition.
A Boost for Camp Achieve
The staff on Silverstein 9 cares for many patients with seizures stemming from epilepsy, injury or other causes. So when it came time to pick a theme for the tree decorating competition, the unit council decided to follow the lead of Bethany Frasch and Kristin McCabe, two unit nurses who volunteer for Camp Achieve. This overnight summer camp is for children and teens with a primary diagnosis of epilepsy or a seizure disorder. For one week, campers have the opportunity to do all the typical camp activities kids love, in a safe and friendly environment.
The staff went all out. Tree decorations included dream catchers, pipecleaner figures and glittery pine cones, plus letters from camp. To make the scene more ‘rural,’ the walls of the family waiting room -– where the tree and decorations are located -- were covered with brown paper decorated to look like logs. Even the windows are festive!
Pat Huggins created the Campfire Diva -- complete with jewelry, make-up and fancy clothes – who is standing in a canoe atop the tree. Jen Kraus made a very realistic camp fire using decorated cardboard rolls from paper towels and topped it with a camp favorite: marshmallows toasting on the open ‘fire.’ Phyllis Dubendorf and her daughter took the lead on creating three gingerbread houses.
The unit plans to donate its $150 winnings from the competition to Camp Achieve. It will also donate all money raised from selling the tree’s ornaments and gingerbread houses. To purchase, please contact Jackie Dunayevich at 215-662-3808.
It Really is a Small World
Patients from around the world come to HUP for high-quality care and some of the staff who treat them have come from foreign lands as well. To celebrate this diversity, Rhoads 7 put together a trip around the world … all within the confines of the the unit.
The tree -- decorated with flags from many counties, cut-out figures of doctors, nurses, CNAs, and patients, and a globe on top -– is the first thing people see as they step off the elevator. In the unit itself, each patient room window is decorated with a holiday scene from a different country. On one, Santa delivers toys in shorts and a tshirt to Austrailian boys and girls. On another, Scotland’s Santa wears a kilt and plays a bagpipe… while the loch ness monster surfaces to hear the music. In the Marshall Islands scene, Santa rises out of the ocean, carrying a tree!
The windows of the unit’s family waiting room are painted with a forest of evergreens, dedicated to a patient who sold Christmas trees in the city. Even some of the patients got into the spirit, helping to paint the evergreen scene.
“It was a great group project,” said Stephanie Lynch. To continue the holiday spirit, the unit did caroling on Christmas Eve.
Santa Paws: A Tribute to Pets
Rhoads 5 is known for its winning entries. Indeed, the unit has been among the winners in this very competitive event in 15 out of the last 18 years. Kirstin Quinlan and Jin Jun knew this when they agreed to take the lead in decorating for this year’s competition. “We had very big shoes to fill!” Quinlan said.
But they came through with flying colors. Santa Paws is a winner! Quinlan said the theme was inspired by the hospital’s own therapy program, HUP’s Pups. “The wreath on the tree contains photos of all of HUP’s Pups,” she said. Originally, in keeping with the theme, staff with dogs were invited to create an ornament with a photo of their pet for the tree, but “by popular demand, it spread to include photos of pet cats as well.” They also allowed a photo of a pet fish, dropping the paws requirement for this one. On the top of the tree is a kitty angel.
Even the room’s windows carried the theme –- with brightly decorated dog houses on the ‘snow’ covered sill and origami dogs hanging in the window.
Restore the Shore
The devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to parts of the Jersey Shore not only affected those who lived or owned houses in these areas but also the many people for whom the shore holds wonderful memories.
Founders 10 literally brought part of the shore to its unit as part of its winning theme: Restore the Shore for Santa. With the help of two inpatients, unit secretary Jessica Edinger took the lead, pulling the entire scene together over the course of a weekend. The tree, decorated with star fish, seashells, and holiday ornaments, sits among a typical shore scene: beach chair, cooler, sand toys and beach bag. "The sand came from an actual sandbag one of our nurses used at her beach house during the storm,” Edinger said. The scene also featured photos of the devastation brought on by Sandy.
The two patients -– Mary Ellen Otto* and Stephen Fitchett -– said they were thrilled to help! Each has been on the unit since late October waiting for a heart and liver transplant. “It was great to have something to do,” Otto said.
The group will use its $150 prize money towards ‘adopting’ a family from Lavallette, NJ for the holidays, About half that town sustained substantial flood damage during Hurricane Sandy.
*Otto got an early holiday present. She received her new heart and liver last week!
To see more holiday tree photos, see below or click here.
Top photo: Sitha Dy (l.) and Maria Nicolas with some of the many donations for the Delaware County SPCA.
Second photo: Phyllis Dubendorf, Aparna Kumar, Jen Kraus, Diane Leichter, Jackie Dunayevich, Julia Hodge, Tina Palmer, Nahree Anderson. Also a special thanks to Siobhan Rock, Robin Acker, Maureen Hauger, Mackenzie Mapes, Marissa Mcaneny, Sarah Stein, Steffi Caniglia, Kelechi Ekejiuba, Ashley Hicks, Sarah Fritze, and Amber Oberholzer.
Third photo: The Rhoads 7 staff all put their creative talents to work for It’s a Small World.
Fourth photo: (L. to r.): Theresa Smedley, Kirsten Quinlan, Julie Jablanski (who developed HUP’s Pups with Donna Griffith, director of Volunteer Services), and Sebastian Ramagnano.
Bottom photo: Unit secretary Jessica Edinger with the two patients who helped her decorate, Mary Ellen Otto and Stephen Fitchett.