ChristianaCare received the 2020 Mended Hearts Regional Hospital of the Year Award for exceptional support of patients having cardiac surgery and procedures. ChristianaCare has partnered with Mended Hearts, the world’s largest peer-to-peer heart patient support network, for 36 years.
ChristianaCare was honored in the Mid-Atlantic region for going above and beyond to support Mended Hearts volunteers in their work counseling and educating patients having cardiac surgery and procedures. These volunteers have undergone the same procedures themselves.
Mended Heart volunteers are a valued and respected part of the team, helping patients and families during a challenging time, said Kirk Garratt, M.D., medical director of the Center for Heart & Vascular Health at ChristianaCare.
“They are at the bedside, in the catheterization lab and in cardiac rehab, offering empathy, compassion and positive thoughts to patients who are at various stages of recovery,” Dr. Garratt said.
“Mended Hearts volunteers know what it’s like to be a cardiac surgery patient and they have unique insights to share.”
ChristianaCare was nominated by Kersey Vakharia, a long-time Mended Hearts volunteer and president of the local chapter. He first became acquainted with the group in 1994, when he had a successful mitral valve replacement and double bypass at Christiana Hospital.
“I was in the hospital recovering and I got a visit from Mended Heart volunteers,” he recalled. “They explained to my wife and me what to expect. I felt a great sense of confidence because they had a similar experience to my own.”
After his retirement in 2008, Vakharia trained to become a certified Mended Hearts visitor and has since been inducted into ChristianaCare’s Volunteer Hall of Fame. Currently, there are 10 volunteers in the chapter, each devoting four to six hours a week to helping patients.
“Volunteers like Kersey are dedicated to helping patients and are willing to put in time and effort to ensure a successful and helpful conversation with patients and their families,” said Margarita Rodriguez-Duffy, director of Volunteer and Guest Services. “They embody ChristianaCare’s values of love and excellence.”
Vakharia said it’s rewarding to see how reassured and confident patients feel after a conversation with a volunteer who is leading an active, productive and healthy life after heart surgery.
“The families and patients we talk to are extremely grateful,” he said. “You can see the stress drain from their faces when they know what to expect over the next three to four months and beyond.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at ChristianaCare, visit christianacare.org/volunteer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.