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The BMC Brief


March 27, 2012 Volume 1, Issue 21

Juan Ortiz Remembered for Smile, Caring Spirit

Juan Ortiz, a patient transporter in the Menino Pavilion, died suddenly March 22. He was 55.

Juan Ortiz
Juan Ortiz bowling at a BMC department event

Ortiz began his career at BMC in 2003. Over the eight years he worked as a transporter, he interacted with staff across the campus, and was known for his smile and jovial personality.

“Juan was a vision of happiness,” says Dave Maffeo, Senior Director, Support Services. “I will always remember his infectious smile.”

“He was the greatest guy I’ve ever met in my life,” says Cherki Benchraka, Transport. “He always had a smile on his face. We will miss him.”

“He was a great co-worker, a wonderful person and a pleasure to be around,” echoes Muniz Yassin, Transport. “He will be missed. God bless.”

Ortiz, a Dorchester resident, collapsed at home and was taken to BMC where teams from the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, MPOR and Respiratory Care cared for him before he died. He leaves behind two children, daughter Jetzenia and son Juan III, and four grandchildren, Yetziann, Anthony, Joniel and Xaylene.

“Always remember our father’s endless smile and heart of gold, and his unconditional love for family and friends,” said the Ortiz family at a March 24 memorial service. “Remember him for his love of sports. Go Yankees, Broncos and Lakers!”

“We have lost a dear friend; may his soul rest in peace,” says co-worker and friend Augustus Corbin of Transport.

“It is really hard to believe you are gone, but gone to a better place,” says Transporter Juan Gonzalez. “God bless you, my friend. We will all miss you.”

BMC will hold a memorial service for Ortiz in the coming weeks. Details will be announced.

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Multicultural Week Makes a Splash

Multicultural Fair

Music, dancing, food and cultural displays defined BMC’s Multicultural Week, held March 19-23. The week celebrated BMC’s diversity and culminated with the week’s signature event, a Multicultural Fair.

More than 25 countries were represented, turning the Shapiro Lobby into a global oasis. Patients, families, visitors and staff were surrounded by tables adorned with photos, clothing, jewelry, art, trinkets and other personal memorabilia from around the world. The personal items, donated by staff, showcased their cultures, delighting Fair visitors, piquing their curiosity and prompting questions about the countries and cultures.

“Enthusiasm was high and the turnout reflected that,” says Barbara Catchings, Co-Chair of the Multicultural Week Committee and Director, Community Outreach and Student Internships, Human Resources. “We have such a wonderful, diverse staff at BMC and we are thrilled that so many employees wanted to share their heritage with others. This was a great event that showcases the true spirit of BMC. We’re already looking forward to next year.”

The Fair was highlighted by two midday performances, the first by young dancers from the Woods School of Irish Dance in South Boston.

Belly Dancer
A belly dancing performance was a hit with the crowd

Next was a belly dancing performance by Aurel D’Agostino of Ancient Art Studios in Taunton. Aurel performed to Turkish music, mesmerizing the crowd with her traditional costume and while balancing a tray of teacups and a teapot on her head.

During the weeklong celebration, the Newton and Menino cafeterias sold ethnic foods, each day highlighting a different culture. Live musical performances also were held in the cafeterias, with musicians performing Latin, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, jazz and gospel music.

“We are pleased we were able to tap into the musical talents of our Boston University community for these performances,” says Rafael Ortega, MD, Co-Chair of the Multicultural Week committee, BUSM Associate Dean of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and BUSM/BMC Vice Chair of Anesthesia. “They did a great job entertaining the BMC and BU Medical Campus community.”

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Staffers Pound the Pavement for Team BMC

When thousands of runners lace up their sneakers April 16 for the 116th Boston Marathon, six of them will be BMC or BMC HealthNet Plan (BMCHP) employees running for Team BMC.

Louisa Sullivan
Louisa Sullivan

One staff runner is Louisa Sullivan, Project Coordinator, Child Witness to Violence Project and Project DULCE. Sullivan is running in support of the Child Witness to Violence Project, which provides counseling, advocacy and outreach to young children who are bystanders to community and/or domestic violence. Sullivan is committed to raising $10,000 for Team BMC, as are all 27 runners of the team.

“I’m proud to run for Team BMC and support programs that I believe in,” says Sullivan, a first time marathoner. “When I ask friends and family for support and donations come in, it pumps me up. I feel accountable to them and our patients.”

Sullivan has raised $7,000 so far and says she has been lucky to have so many people support her. The self-described “comfortable four-to-five miler athlete” has been training along with other Team BMCers with FitCorp, a local gym that has partnered with the hospital to offer specialized marathon training to the team.

“When I found out I was accepted to Team BMC, I was a little embarrassed to run with a group,” says Sullivan. “I wanted to start on my own first. Now I run once a week with a friend and also with the team.”

John Colucci
John Colucci

For John Colucci, Senior Business Configuration Analyst, BMCHP, training includes running five miles a day and up to 16 miles on the weekend. A diabetic who has to watch what he eats, Colucci says he is careful about watching his blood sugar levels. This will be his second Boston Marathon; he ran the first one five years ago for a sick boy at Children’s Hospital who is now healthy. At the time, he thought it would be his last marathon.

“I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support the great work BMC does while also participating in the greatest marathon in the U.S.,” he says.

When he takes to the course April 16, two people will be on this mind: his son Tony, who was murdered in 2005 in the Berkshires at the age of 20, and his sister Cynthia Coutoumas, who was murdered in 2010 in her Waltham home.

“Some people deal with their grief by turning to alcohol or drugs,” says Colucci. “But I just put my heart and soul into running.”

Team BMC Staff Runners:
Annie Choquette, Finance
John Colucci, BMCHP
Chrissy Lebedis, Radiology
Meg MacDougall, Nursing
Greta Murphy, Pediatrics
Louisa Sullivan, Child Witness to Violence/Project Dulce

Learn more about Team BMC and support a runner.

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What Do You Do, Michelle Alexis-Telfort?

Name: Michelle Alexis-Telfort, RN
Title: Nurse
Department: Intermediate Care Unit
Years at BMC: 13

Michelle Alexis-Telfort 

What brought you to BMC?
When I was 17 years old, my mother arranged for me to leave Haiti and come to the U.S. to make a better life for myself. I settled in Miami where I earned a degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse and lived for 10 years. In 1995 I moved to Massachusetts, where I received an associate degree in nursing at Quincy College. I wanted to broaden my knowledge in the medical field by working at a big hospital and BMC was a perfect fit. I’ve been in Boston for 22 years now and I love it here.

What do you do?
I’m a nurse on the Intermediate Care Unit. I care for ear, nose and throat patients, oral surgery patients and cardiothoracic patients who have had heart and lung surgery. Most of our patients are admitted after experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or respiratory conditions. A typical shift includes working in a fast-paced environment while consulting on medical cases and rounding with a dedicated team, providing patient education, cardiac and thoracic procedures, post-procedure care and discharge plans. Our patients require constant heart monitoring, frequent vitals and continuous assessments including physical examinations, specialized therapies and administrations of medications.

What do you like most about working at BMC?
We have a great team of doctors and nurses that truly provide exceptional care without exception. I love advocating for patient safety and health concerns, as well as helping patients cope with their illnesses. We work hard to educate each patient about their health in order to prevent readmissions. It makes me feel great knowing that I’m part of patients’ recovery and overall well-being. Our patients and their families come from all different paths of life and I embrace their individuality and culture by advocating for them.

We hear you helped found the nonprofit organization Nurses Care for Haitian Children. Tell us about it.
After the massive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, five nurses from BMC, including myself, traveled to Haiti in partnership with Partners In Health, a nonprofit organization that provides health care to poor countries. What we saw was devastating. There were overcrowded and understaffed hospitals, abandoned and malnourished children on the streets, and people with nothing left, all in desperate need of assistance. Their resilience was unbelievable and we were inspired by them, so we founded Nurses Care for Haitian Children, which helps abandoned and vulnerable children get proper medical services, nourishment and education. The organization is based in Boston, but all funds go to Haitian children in need. The organization started with just four children and now assists 20 children. That’s impressive growth for a two-year old organization.

Since we started Nurses Care for Haitian Children I have donated my retirement home in Haiti and turned it into an orphanage. I’m very happy with the organization’s growth and our ability to help a greater number of children. We are in the process of starting a sponsorship program so more people can get involved and provide assistance in aiding Haitian children that have been affected by medical conditions and natural disasters, such as the earthquake.

What are your future goals for Nurses Care for Haitian Children?
Our goal is to help these children become leaders in Haiti. We do this by helping them succeed in school and encouraging them to continue on to college or a trade school where they can develop career paths. My other hope is that they will help the organization succeed by later giving back to other children like themselves. In the future, we are looking to expand the facility to assist more children, creating a larger playground, producing more vegetables and fruits to eat, increasing our volunteer services, coordinating more programs for our developmentally disabled children and incorporating more services such as a pharmacy.

How does working as a nurse at BMC affect your role in Nurses Care for Haitian Children?
BMC has helped me apply my medical skills and resources to Nurses Care for Haitian Children. BMC doctors and nurses have contributed financially to the organization, which we are so grateful for, and we also have the support of the three other BMC nurses who are co-founders. The type of care we provide at BMC is also similar to what we provide through Nurses Care for Haitian Children because we serve a diverse patient population and offer them the best possible care that we can.

Learn more about Nurses Care for Haitian Children.

Do you know a staff member or department that should be profiled? Send your suggestions to communications@bmc.org.

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In Their Words

Patients share their BMC experience

Letter writing 

I am compelled to tell you about the wonderful treatment I received at Boston Medical Center a few weeks ago.

I had two serious medical conditions at the same time that needed treatment. The doctors at Merrimack Valley Hospital shipped me right away to BMC. I had a perforated bowel as well as an aortic aneurysm.

When I arrived at Boston Medical Center, Dr. Mahoney and his surgical team were waiting to receive me, as were Dr. Kalish and his team. I am eternally grateful to both the doctors and their colleagues throughout my stay. The nurses, interns, students, food and custodial personnel and many others made my stay enjoyable and heartwarming. I have never seen a more efficient group of people in my entire life. They all were caring, sincere, encouraging and upbeat.

I may not have believed in angels before, but I surely do now. I even know where they reside: at Boston Medical Center.

Haverhill, Mass.

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Awards and Accolades

Lindberg Bell Award 

The International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety announced Boston University Medical Campus/Boston Medical Center is the recipient of the 2012 Lindberg Bell Award. The award recognizes the most distinguished security, safety and emergency management programs in the country. This acknowledgement is testament to the dedication and commitment to safety and preparedness of all of our men and women to their duties, as well as their understanding of the mission of exceptional care without exception.

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