By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH – In the pandemic’s second year, the Marlborough Junior Woman’s Club (MJWC) gave thank-you treats to over 300 workers at UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital.
On April 12, a delivery of snacks and homemade cards was led by MJWC member Georgina Chamberlain. She knows firsthand from her family’s experience with multiple hospitals that all workers are enduring challenges amid the pandemic.
“Last spring, the tributes and parades were mainly for first responders,” she noted. “A hospital can’t run with just first responders; you need to have a support staff. I wanted the Juniors to do something for all of the departments in the hospital, not just one little segment.”
Chamberlain also volunteers for Marlborough Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). The council consists of community members and hospital staff.
“PFAC is basically a liaison between the hospital and the community,” she explained.
Family receives support
Chamberlain is grateful for hospital workers’ support.
Three days before Christmas 2020, her mother suffered a stroke and was rushed to Marlborough Hospital’s emergency room. Chamberlain complied with pandemic restrictions.
“I sat in the parking lot and talked to the doctors over the phone,” she recounted. “The hospital wasn’t allowing anyone but patients into the ER last December due to COVID restrictions. They were great about keeping me informed.”
Her mother was transferred for treatment to UMass Memorial Medical Center – University Campus in Worcester. In recovery, she went to a rehabilitation facility.
“Mom was recovering amazingly well until she contracted COVID in rehab,” Chamberlain relayed.
Upon the diagnosis, her mother was admitted to the COVID unit at Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center. Chamberlain was allowed end-of-life visits. Her mother died on Jan. 17 at age 96.
“I was there when my mother passed,” Chamberlain shared. “The nurse who was going off shift was crying as she said goodbye. The nurses in the COVID unit were truly amazing. They said it breaks their hearts to see patients fighting COVID alone.”
Thanking hospital workers
MJWC had expressed gratitude to nurses when the pandemic hit in spring 2020. Back then, the volunteer service organization gave 100 skin care kits to Marlborough Hospital nurses.
More recently, the idea to somehow thank the entire Marlborough Hospital staff began as a discussion among PFAC members. Chamberlain recognized the task as an opportunity for MJWC.
“The Juniors could do more because we fundraise all year to give back to the community,” she said. “I asked the Juniors for funding to make it bigger than what we did last year for the nurses. They unanimously agreed.”
MJWC members donated snacks and shopped for other items. Members also created thank-you cards.
The treats were packed in over 30 baskets, one for each department.
Fully vaccinated members delivered the baskets.
Also helping patients
Another MJWC project helps patients. At a PFAC meeting in fall 2019, Chamberlain learned that the hospital needs to have clothing on hand, particularly in the ER. There, some patients’ clothes become blood-stained. Patients experiencing homelessness also sometimes need weather-appropriate coats.
In early 2020, MJWC donated $200 worth of new clothing along with members’ donations of gently-used and new clothes. MJWC also donated new clothing in 2020 during the pandemic.
Clothes are stored in a cupboard known as the Juniors Closet.
“The clothes are for anybody in the hospital who needs them, but they usually go to the ER,” Chamberlain explained. “The Juniors have been so receptive to any ideas that I’ve come up with for the hospital.”
Join the club
Chamberlain invites women to be a guest at an MJWC meeting, now conducted via Zoom.
“We’re always looking for new members who want to get involved,” she added. “If you don’t see a project that you like, then you can come up with one that you’d like to do and we’ll help.”
Learn more about MJWC at facebook.com/marlborojuniors.