Giving Back

Making the Call: Supporting Colleagues During Difficult Times

September 22, 2020

A small group of volunteers began calling every HCA Healthcare Hope Fund applicant affected by COVID-19. This effort turned out to be more impactful than ever expected.

When a natural disaster strikes and access to communication channels are disrupted, the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund enlists volunteers to reach out directly to colleagues in need of assistance to help them navigate the application process.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants didn’t need help completing the application as they still had access to phone and internet service. What our volunteers quickly discovered, is that our colleagues simply wanted someone to speak to who was willing to listen and understand what they were going through. They needed someone to know what was suddenly happening to them that directly affected their financial or childcare situation—they needed the human connection,” shares Leigh Clark, grants manager of the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund. “We enlisted a small call team of volunteers, who had worked with the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund in the past, to begin checking on colleagues who had applied for a grant,” says Leigh.

Mary Wells, manager of HIS solutions in Parallon’s Information Technology Group, jumped at the chance to join the call team, “My first reaction was, ‘I want to help!’ What can I do to make the world a little better?”

Tammy Love, Director of coding for regulatory compliance support

Tammy Love, director of coding for Regulatory Compliance Support

Tammy Love, director of coding for Regulatory Compliance Support, also agreed to join the volunteer call team. “I had an overwhelming sense of not knowing what was coming, and I saw this as an opportunity to help others in a very quiet and comforting way. None of us knew how long we would be doing these calls. I knew in my heart, I wanted to be able to give back in a different way,” shares Tammy.

The corporate call team of 12 volunteers made their first outreach calls to applicants on March 25.  Since then, they have attempted to reach 3,000 HCA Healthcare Hope Fund applicants.

“This has been the most fulfilling work volunteer-wise. Walking people through some of their most vulnerable moments makes me so grateful to work for HCA Healthcare. The drive to support the mission has been so apparent. Being able to be the light in someone’s day has been so rewarding, it makes me smile just thinking about it,” shares Lara Henley, an information protection analyst with Information Protection and Security.

“You know, life can change for any of us at any time and we really are all vulnerable to life-changing events,” says Tammy. “I found just one simple call was a way of providing acknowledgement and showing care and concern. It can really impact someone’s well-being.”

The call team readily admits the undertaking was at times intense and heart wrenching. “I found myself wanting to personally try to help some of these colleagues. Sometimes after the calls, I would just have to walk away from my computer and cry,” says Mary. “They would say, ‘My sister died of COVID and I can’t get to Florida, or my kid is sick in the hospital, or my mom is in the hospital with COVID.’ I would reach back out to the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund team and ask if there was anything we could do to expedite their application,” she says.

“Some people have missed weeks or months of work and it puts them behind on their financial responsibilities.”

— Casey Berger, senior business analyst

Casey Berger, Senior business analyst

Casey Berger, senior business analyst

“I’ve been doing this for several months now,” says Casey Berger, a senior business analyst at HCA Healthcare’s corporate offices in Nashville, Tenn. “You learn the applicant’s work hours have been reduced, or they have COVID or someone in their family has COVID. It puts them behind on their financial responsibilities and they need help getting caught up. I remember one [colleague] whose husband contracted COVID, and he passed away. It left her with four dependents, and she was having to carry the burden of his arrangements, funeral expenses and bills they were behind on,” says Casey.

“All of our colleagues have been so grateful for the calls and the help. Even knowing this may not work out, they were thankful to have an option to apply. Many of them said, ‘I have been donating to this and I didn’t know what it even was, but now I know what a great opportunity it is to have this’,” says Lara.

Mary added, “I’ve even had people reach back out and call my cellphone to say, ‘Hey I am back to work now, how can I give back to the Hope Fund?’”

“2020 is the most pivotal year in the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund’s existence.”

— Joe Flynn, president of the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund and assistant vice president of Community Engagement

Lara Henley, Information protection analyst, Information Protection and Security

Lara Henley, information protection analyst, Information Protection and Security

Tammy Love, Casey Berger, Lara Henley and Mary Wells have all signed up to continue making calls for the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, along with many others from the original call team in support of the expanded program. “The HCA Healthcare Hope Fund has received so many positive reports on the personalization of the calls to each applicant. We are now going to do a pilot program with corporate volunteers to see how it translates to every application the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund receives no matter what they are applying for,” says Leigh Clark. “Awareness of the program has also increased, we have had so many people say ‘I never thought I would need the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund. I never predicted such a life changing event that COVID has brought on would hit me, or I’d experience such a lengthy dip in my finances,’” she shares.

“2020 is the most pivotal year in the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund’s existence. Both on the donor and recipient side, it has been the most significant year to date,” says Joe Flynn, president of the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund and assistant vice president of community engagement.

“The response has been great, both the volunteers love it and our colleagues who have been applying say it has been such an important part to have the voice on the line to talk with,” says Leigh.

“I don’t even know of another company that does something like this,” says Casey. “I would encourage people, as we approach the Month of Caring during October, to consider giving money to the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund. Disaster knows no bounds, Mother Nature doesn’t. It is an opportunity to give back to our fellow colleagues,” says Casey.

In need of assistance?

If you are experiencing a financial burden due to the pandemic or another unexpected circumstance, but are hesitant to apply for an HCA Healthcare Hope Fund grant, please review the eligibility guidelines. If eligible, please complete an application for a grant. All grants are based on a qualifying event and a financial need. Our Mission Health colleagues may email the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund to request an application for assistance.

Want to help?

If you would like to donate to the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, you can make a one-time donation via credit card or set up a recurring donation from your paycheck. Those who are not employed by HCA Healthcare are also welcome to donate, and 100% of the donation goes to an HCA Healthcare colleague in need.