Gadsden Regional Medical Center has put together a project that takes care of its own.
In the spirit of the holiday season, GRMC volunteers recently purchased 20 Christmas trees with the intent of donating them to hospital employees and their families who were affected by the April 27 tornado outbreak.
According to GRMC marketing coordinator Donna Thornton, a raffle will be held for the remaining trees, with the resulting funds earmarked for hospital employees who require assistance for the Christmas season.
Among the seven employees who accepted one of the 20 trees was Michelle Barksdale, a surgery scheduler at Gadsden Regional whose rental house in Guntersville was almost virtually destroyed by the April 27 storms.
It was an experience I hope I don t have to go through again.
Barksdale, who currently is staying at her parent s home with her sons Brandon and Jordan, very much appreciated her co-workers generosity.
You just don t see that kind of compassion anymore. They already helped me out a lot when the storm hit in April, like people giving me their extra personal time. I ve always seen [GRMC staff] help out other people, but it makes it even more special when they help out one of their own. I m really fortunate that they helped me as much as they did.
The impact of the project has not gone unnoticed by the hospital administration.
The pain of April 27 is still with us, said GRMC Chief Operating Officer Paul Theriot. To this day, a lot of our employees still are not back on their feet. From my understanding, it was a group effort to come up with the idea (for the project) and see it through.
The one thing I ve been so impressed with since I ve been here is the amount of compassion these folks have. They re not thinking of themselves all the time, and they really want to help other people.
Gadsden Regional also operates an in-house food bank for those employees in need.
We took a room (in the hospital) and renovated it a little bit, and within two weeks we had to tell everybody not to bring in any more food, because it was full. So when it gets low in the future, we ll put out the message that we can use donations again.
Theriot pointed to GRMC Human Resources director Gail Sanders and GRMC Marketing director Leslie Harp as two of the driving forces behind the two projects.
Gail has really taken the lead as far as getting it organized and making it happen, and Leslie brings a lot of energy and helps fill in the gaps when a person on staff here really wants to help but can t make it happen with the demands on their time.