When Sharp employees talk about sharing The Sharp Experience, they are referring to the exceptional care and compassion they offer patients while at work. However, The Sharp Experience — Sharp’s care philosophy of treating people, not patients, and transforming the health care experience for the entire community — is not just one thing the people of Sharp do; it’s everything they do, even when “off the clock.”
Debbie Gravitt, RN, and Gina Ciezkowski, RN, a mother-daughter pair who both work for Sharp HealthCare, are perfect examples of spreading this exceptional experience wherever they go. This includes when they volunteer in humanitarian efforts, both in San Diego and across the country.
“One of the pillars of The Sharp Experience is serving the community,” says Gravitt, a lead nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital. “We are encouraged to be exemplary public citizens by making a difference in the community, which we strive to do by serving others.”
For the past six years, Gravitt and Ciezkowski, who works in the emergency department at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, have manned the overnight medical tent at Veterans Village of San Diego’s Stand Down. The event has assisted thousands of veterans since 1988 in accessing the services they need, from food and medical care, to job and shelter assistance.
“We are so humbled to be able to give back to the veterans who have given so selflessly of themselves for us and our freedom,” Ciezkowski says. “We care deeply for these amazing individuals and feel, by volunteering, we are able to show them a small token of our gratitude for the tremendous sacrifice they made. They have served us and our country, and this is a way of letting us serve them.”
In October 2017, the duo was touched by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in and around Houston, Texas. Supported in part by Sharp’s Humanitarian Service Program, which provides paid leave time for eligible employees to volunteer for programs that provide health care or other supportive services to underserved or adversely affected populations, both were able to provide much-needed assistance in the town of Port Arthur, Texas.
“Our work involved assisting those who had their homes damaged in the hurricane, including the mucking out and demolition of houses,” Gravitt says. “Although the work was tedious, we were so blessed to be a part of the many lives that were touched and made a little easier. One 78-year-old woman, whose home was flooded, told us that we were an answer to her prayers through a dark time of her life.”
Both Gravitt and Ciezkowski say they love being nurses at Sharp and feel honored to be able to give back to the community by providing nursing care to those less fortunate. However, they also realize how much they actually enjoyed the manual labor they provided to those in need in Texas.
“Given the opportunity again, we would be honored to go and work wherever there was a need,” Ciezkowski says. “We truly enjoy our volunteer time and are thankful that Sharp is so committed to being part of such important and rewarding community outreach. We both feel we are more blessed by our volunteer work than those whom we serve.”
For the news media: To talk with Debbie Gravitt, RN, and Gina Ciezkowski, RN, about their volunteer work for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.