We are incredibly fortunate to have so many kind and thoughtful friends who give to UnityPoint Health – Meriter from their hearts to improve the lives of our patients and the health of our community.
Volunteer - George Falor
George has been volunteering with many community organizations in Madison for the past 20 years. He became a Meriter Hospital volunteer four years ago. "I have volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House for two decades and saw so many families from Meriter Hospital, especially parents with babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)." On a whim, he signed up to be a volunteer "cuddler" who holds and comforts critically ill infants at Meriter. The wait list is long and it took close to five years before George got the opportunity. "I wasn't sure how it would work out, but after holding that first baby, I was hooked." In addition to his "cuddler" role, George also helps train other volunteers to hold these fragile infants and assists the volunteer program in other capacities.
"I've held infants whose parents live far away and can't be at the hospital every day; I've rocked newborns going through drug withdrawal; and I've held infants that I knew would not survive. Whatever comfort I can bring is an honor for me. I am so impressed with the dedication, high quality and excellent care provided by the entire NICU care team."
In addition to his gift of time, George also makes annual donations to support the NICU at Meriter.
Employee - Kim Jorgenson
I have been the Manager of the NewStart Program for the past year and a half. Prior to my current role, I worked directly with NewStart patients as an Addictions Counselor for almost five years. In addition to being my place of work, Meriter has provided most of my family's health care needs for the last 20 years. With two active boys, that was a lot of care!
"I believe in supporting services that have taken care of me and my family, just as Meriter has done. I am extremely proud of the comprehensive services we offer our patients at NewStart. It is a privilege to work with patients and see them emerge through the addiction recovery process, stronger and more confident in themselves. That's why it only makes sense for me to contribute to the effort and support our high standards of care. Two things come to mind that I find most inspiring: My co-workers, who are dedicated to providing quality patient care each and every day. And the strength that our patients find to make the changes we ask of them."
Physician - Richard S. Lee, M.D.
I am a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Division Chief at UnityPoint Health – Meriter. I help provide compassionate cardiovascular care to our sick patients. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid growing up in Ohio. Both my parents are physicians. Watching their dedication to their patients, I recognized — early on — how physicians can make a meaningful difference in a person's life. All I have ever wanted to do with my life is help sick people get better.
"As a physician at Meriter, I have realized that providing excellent patient care requires the combined contributions of every single member of the health care team. It takes more than a village to support one patient through a single cardiothoracic surgery. It takes an entire community. Our community is supported very generously by the Meriter Foundation. As members of the Meriter family, we are all called to give back to our community in whatever way we can, to whatever degree is reasonable. If our physician leaders don't give back, then who will? My personal contribution to the Foundation was inspired by the realization that surgeons alone don't heal sick patients. Communities do."
Volunteer - Kristine Podolak
Kristine recalls learning to knit as a young girl when she was in grade school. She would go to the local yarn shop where the store manager taught her the basic knit and purl stitches. Kris admits she wasn't an avid knitter until six years ago, when she had some downtime and needed a hobby to keep herself occupied. She found her knitting needles and has busy ever since, providing over 1,000 hours of volunteer service making baby hats for Meriter newborns. As a hospital volunteer, Kris has created more than 225 knit hats for infants in the Birthing Center and Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Each little hat takes close to 5 hours, one stitch at a time. "I like to use happy, bright-colored yarns and have enough yarn to knit for the next century!"
Kris also directs annual corporate matching gifts from her employer. Walmart Foundation makes a donation to a charity of her choice, in recognition of the number of volunteer hours she gives back in the community. Kris directs this gift to Meriter's Littlest Angels fund which provides emergency resources to families who are struggling financially and have a newborn to take care of.
"Four of my grandchildren were born at Meriter and one needed extra care in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for over eight days. We spent a lot of time at Meriter and received wonderful care. I feel that giving back is important."