Community Hospital has been named the 2014 Hospital of the Year by the Indiana Lions Eye Bank (ILEB). The non-profit transplant bank facilitates collection, storage and distribution of human eye tissue and is the leading supplier of corneal donations in the state of Indiana.
“The staff at Community Hospital has done an outstanding job supporting cornea donation,” said Mike Henderson, Donor Services Manager, Indiana Lions Eye Bank. “Many people have received the Gift of Sight as a direct result of their compassionate work. The Indiana Lions Eye Bank thanks Community Hospital for helping us accomplish our mission of improving the quality of life through cornea transplantation.”
In 2014, the hospital was able to provide 60 cornea donations through generous donors. Community Hospital also has averaged 40 cornea donations per year for the past five years.
Community Hospital was chosen by ILEB as hospital of the year for their dedication and commitment to providing eye donations, but also for continuously honoring the families of the donors.
“Community Hospital was selected for this honor not only for the donations that we have been able to provide thanks to our generous donors, but for our programs that raise awareness and pay tribute to our donors and their loved ones as well,” said Jana Lacera, RN, MSA, Community Healthcare System’s regional liaison to the hospitals’ Bioethics Committees.
At Community Hospital and at sister hospitals St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, the “Donate Life” flag is flown in honor of a donor for 48 hours as a silent salute. Each donor family receives a card with a garden-sized version of the flag as a keepsake and to honor the generous gift provided by their loved one.
“Our Fly the Flag program honors donors for their precious gifts and serves as closure to grieving families,” Lacera said. “One employee said that she received her card and flag on a ‘really bad day’ and it made her remember that her daughter-in-law had an impact on the lives of others.”
Another opportunity to honor those grieving families happens every November when the hospitals host the Rose Dedication ceremony. Donor families are invited to fill out a message to their loved one on a rose vial which is sent to Pasadena and placed in the dedication garden on the Donate Life float in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
“We also are very proud of our dedicated team of Designated Tissue Requesters, the nursing supervisors, who, in spite of the busy schedule, find time to approach our grieving families about tissue and cornea donation,” Lacera said. “We are only one of 12 hospitals in the state that use this one-on-one personalized approach with families.”
The important thing to remember is to share your decision to be a donor with your family, said Lacera.
Under Indiana’s Donor Choice Law, individuals 18 and older may declare their intention to donate, and family members are not able to override that intention at the time of death. Individuals under age 18 may declare their donation intentions with the permission of a parent or legal guardian, who must also provide consent for donation at the time of a minor’s death.
Year round through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana residents can register their intent to be organ and tissue donors while obtaining or renewing their drivers’ license.
Registration also is accepted at www.donatelifeindiana.org.
For more information about the programs and services at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, visit comhs.org.