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Sharp Health News

Patient care supported by the community

June 13, 2019

Patient care supported by the community

Sebastiana Perez (center) and her daughter, Rosa Perez (right), with Sharp occupational therapist Mollie Evers.

From knitting beanies for Sharp’s littlest patients to providing free rides around the hospital campus, the services provided by Auxiliary volunteers at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center ensure patients and visitors receive an extraordinary level of care. What many people don’t know is the Auxiliary’s efforts also directly support patient treatment.

In the gift shop at Sharp Chula Vista, purchases help raise funds to help patients currently undergoing treatment or receiving care in the hospital, a process that aligns with the hospital’s Planetree patient-centered care designation.

In 2018 alone, $15,000 was allocated from gift shop sales and transferred to projects that directly affect patients, including:
  • Equipment to provide soothing music for patients undergoing an endoscopy procedure
  • Books and comfort items
  • Clothing for patients through the hospital’s Community Closet program
  • Sympathy cards for patients who experience a pregnancy or infant loss
For Sebastiana Perez, these funds meant she’d receive a much-needed compression sleeve — an elasticized garment to reduce the pain and swelling associated with lymphedema, a common side effect of cancer treatment. Compression sleeves are not always covered by insurance, and many patients must pay out of pocket.

“The skin changes with chronic swelling, allowing the area to refill easily, having lost some of its elasticity," says Mollie Evers, OT, certified lymphedema therapist at Sharp Chula Vista. "Compression is not an option for lymphedema management, it is the mainstay for managing swelling over time.”

The garments work in a gradient fashion, snuggest from bottom to top so that the fluid is directed toward the heart, not allowing backflow. It is very important to have the correct size and fitting for how tight the garments should be.

Sebastiana underwent a mastectomy in 2013 during treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. Soon after, she began to experience significant swelling in her left arm.

“Ms. Perez’s lymphedema was very severe, and was affecting her neck and spine,” says Evers. “We keep it under control with compression devices and garments, manual lymphatic drainage, pneumatic pumps, certain exercises, skin and nail care, and most importantly, education.”

Purchasing the compression garments for some patients can be a serious burden and sometimes not a realistic option. Each year, through Auxiliary funding, the Physical Therapy department at Sharp Chula Vista receives a grant to pay for compression garments for nine patients who do not have the insurance benefit, twice a year.

“Ms. Perez will need a compression sleeve twice a year, for the rest of her life,” says Evers. “Luckily she’ll have the ability to receive them because of programs like this.”

“I’m so thankful for this grant,” says Perez. “Ms. Mollie is loving and caring, and I’m very grateful for her.”

All of Sharp’s hospitals include Auxiliary programs and services led by their volunteer services program.

Learn more about patient-centered care at Sharp.

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