Make a Grand Impact
Grand Girlfriends Dish About the Group
"I love that it was so easy to join."
"It's all about helping other women — that's so cool."
"I really like that I can help decide how my gift can truly make a difference."
In 2007, Grand Girlfriends awarded a grant to The Lacks Cancer Center at Saint Mary's to purchase plush robes for women to wear before their radiation treatment for their breast or lung cancer. As one patient stated, "I feel more comfortable, warm, and private with the beautiful robe — thank you for making this difficult time easier."
In 2008, Grand Girlfriends awarded a grant to Saint Mary's Heritage Pediatrics, an inner city health center that provides primary and specialty care to a large number of families living at or below poverty levels. Many of these patients lack even the most basic health education and tools for effective parenting and childcare. Knowing when a child has a fever and needs to be seen by a physician is a foreign concept to many of these families. With a digital thermometer and basic information about fevers, families will be better equipped to know when to seek medical and/or emergency care. The award provided education and digital thermometers to 400 families.
In 2009, Grand Girlfriends awarded a grant to the Emergency and Trauma Center to have a supply of safety cards for women in abusive situations. Women who are victims of domestic violence are frequently seen in the Emergency Department, however they often are unwilling to acknowledge that they were injured by their intimate partner. Strategies are now in place to screen all adult ED patients for domestic violence, and ED staff have had comprehensive education about the process. In these situations, it is possible that women are at risk if the perpetrator is aware of the conversations or finds written materials of the resources that are available to the women. Therefore, the women need something small, discreet, and could be hidden in a wallet, pocket or shoe.
In 2010, Grand Girlfriends awarded a grant for a Stroke Support Group for Women at The Hauenstein Neuroscience Center. Strokes kill more than twice as many American women per year as breast cancer. Each year about 55,000 more women than men experience a stroke. Women ages 45 to 54 are experiencing a stroke surge, mainly due to increased risk factors and lack of prevention knowledge. The signs and symptoms of stroke in women are different than those experienced by men. Thus, a stroke may not be suspected for hours, contributing to less effective treatment. There is an urgent need to create awareness among women about stroke and educate them about this disease which is the 3rd leading cause of death and the top cause of disability in the U.S. The purpose of this support group is to create awareness about stroke risk factors, clinical signs and symptoms, pathophysiology and mechanism, treatment and prevention among women in West Michigan.
In 2011, Grand Girlfriends was able to award four grants in 2011 to help serve women in the Grand Rapids area.
The Wellness Program was granted a demonstration kitchen with home-type utensils and appliances so that the kitchen can be fully utilized to offer wellness-based cooking programs for associates and their families. Studies show that the average adult has a repertoire of only 12 recipes — and these are often based on high-sodium, high fat, high starch convenience foods. Many women would benefit from cooking classes suited to different needs such as "Great Start Breakfast," "How to Pack a Healthy Lunch," "Dinner in 30 Minutes," and "Kids in the Kitchen."
The Wellness Program also received funding to purchase a card reader so that Bridge Cards (food stamps) can be used at the Healthy Street Farmers Market sponsored by Saint Mary's Health Care, Mary Free Bed and Advantage Health. Women compose the majority of hospital staff and typically serve as the primary food purchasers for the family. Having a card reader would enable our Farmers Market to accept Bridge Cards, extending the availability of fresh local foods to those among us most vulnerable to malnutrition. In 2010, approximately 22% of the Kent County population was on food stamps — in the city of Grand Rapids almost half the population is living in poverty and in need of food assistance.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) received funding for a Breast Milk Initiation Program for high risk mothers. This program would include education provided by a lactation consultant, printed materials, a video, and the purchase of two breast pumps for short term loan until mothers are able to obtain the pump provided by insurance. Research has shown that breast milk is the best nutrition for the preterm babies. Providing breast milk for early feedings decreases incidence of infection and gastrointestinal problems among preterm infants.
Grand Girlfriends also granted funding towards baby spoons that will be given to each new mom upon delivery of her baby from The Nutrition Services Department. The spoons are stainless steel and are engraved with the words, "Delivered with Love at Saint Mary's." This gift exemplifies that "something more" that patients have come to expect while they are in our care. Last year, approximately 4,280 babies were delivered at Saint Mary's.
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