Patients are not only at the center of Sharp HealthCare’s work, they are also at the heart of our community. The uniquely special relationship between patient and caregiver is initiated hundreds of times every day at Sharp facilities around the county, and it often goes on to become a significant and longstanding bond.
A patient’s ability to express gratitude for the care provided by a doctor, nurse or other member of their caregiving team can be an important part of the healing process.
In 2003, the Foundations of Sharp HealthCare established the Guardian Angel program to extend patients and their loved ones the opportunity to thank caregivers who have made a difference by making a charitable donation to Sharp in their honor. The number of Guardian Angel recognitions that have been awarded recently reached 50,000.
“When a patient donates through the Guardian Angel program, I consider it positive feedback as to the good work that we are doing, as well as a measure of the patient’s desire to help their community,” says Dr. David Hansen, an internal medicine doctor with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease who is affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group. He has been recognized as a Guardian Angel more than 250 times.
As a not-for-profit health care system, Sharp relies on community support to enhance technologies, facilities and programs that improve the health care experience for patients. The Guardian Angel program is one of a number of ways to give back to Sharp to help bring the highest levels of care to the San Diego community.
The 3,800 Guardian Angel gifts made in honor of Sharp caregivers in 2018 represent an important portion of the more than $34 million raised by the Foundations of Sharp last year.
Some innovative enhancements to care recently made possible in part by philanthropic support include:
- The new hospital tower under construction at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center
- The Burr Heart & Vascular Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital
- The Payne Family Outpatient Pavilion at Sharp Coronado Hospital
- The Kevin H. Cook Infusion Center at Sharp Memorial Hospital
Recipients are presented with a card informing them of the gift made in their honor as well as a Guardian Angel lapel pin. Special milestones like 10, 50 and 100 recognitions are commemorated with gold Guardian Angel pins, Guardian Angel lab coats and personalized awards, often presented at small celebrations that include grateful patient donors.
“For a patient to say, ‘I’m going to give back because we want Sharp to be better, we want the place where patients go and get treatment to be better,’ it’s very heartwarming,” says Dr. Marilyn Norton, a hematologist oncologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and Sharp Memorial Hospital, who was also recently presented with her 250th Guardian Angel recognition.
These tens of thousands of expressions of gratitude have enriched the meaningful bonds throughout the Sharp community. The success of Sharp’s Guardian Angel program has gained interest from hospitals and health care systems around the country as a model for facilitating patient gratitude and giving.
As Dr. Tommy Korn, ophthalmologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy and Sharp Memorial Hospital and 250-time honoree, says, “The Guardian Angel recognition is really an honor for the entire Sharp HealthCare team.”
Visit our Guardian Angel page to learn more or make a donation in honor of your Sharp Guardian Angel. You can also now see how many times a Sharp-affiliated physician has been recognized as a Guardian Angel on their Find a Doctor profile.