During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maureen Hayes, an ICU registered nurse at South Shore University Hospital (SSUH), proposed a brilliant idea of knitting pairs of hearts for COVID patients and their families. One of the hearts would be given to a patient and the other to a family member, allowing them to feel connected although they are apart. She brought the idea to nursing leadership who thought her idea embodied Northwell’s value of being Truly Compassionate and was excited to see it come to life. This was the beginning of the Connected Hearts Project.
The support of our community and teamwork
Both Maureen and her assistant manager, Andrea Freudenberg, were excited about the Connected Hearts Project but needed help getting started. That’s when Andrea reached out to the community for help in creating as many “connected hearts” as possible. Andrea was already a member of the Facebook group ‘The Islip’s Feed Southside Hospital Employees’ and during the height of COVID, their members donated money and ordered from local restaurants to help feed the staff at South Shore University Hospital, formally known as Southside Hospital. She knew this group would be more than willing to lend a hand with this effort.
The response was overwhelming. The outpouring of love and a united community was incredible. Once the hearts began to pour in, the team members in the ICU were able to distribute them.
“Since its launch in April 2020, our Connected Hearts Project has taken on a life of its own,” says Andrea. The Connected Hearts Group at SSUH has monthly meetings with ICU nurses who continue to come up with ideas to support and comfort their patients. This group not only distributes hearts to COVID patients and families but also to other families who are unable to see their loved ones.
The Connected Hearts Project is still new, but it has created a positive impact on our community, patients, families, and our team members. Members of the Facebook group have commented: “It helped me to feel useful during tough times” and “I was happy to be a part of this project.” SSUH team members have also commented that they love having the ability to provide family with a connection to their loved ones.
At Northwell Health, we’re dedicated to supporting team members’ interests above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. It allows team members to be creative while delivering compassionate care to their patients and partnering with the community.
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