Neighbors helping neighbors. Simple acts of grace. Front line healthcare workers giving their all. COVID-19 has implored the world to regain our humanity, with benevolence and generosity of spirit as we all strive to bring an end to the pandemic. In 2020, there is no better example of “we’re all in this together” and the connectedness of HCA Healthcare colleagues than the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund. Whether you’re in Alaska, Texas or New Hampshire – a nurse, radiologist or supply chain technician – the Hope Fund connects us all.

The 501(c)(3) charity was stablished in 2005 so that colleagues could provide financial support to fellow HCA Healthcare family members impacted by natural disaster, illness, injury, domestic violence, the death of a loved one or any of a number of unavoidable hardships. Over the last 15 years, we’ve come together to help 39,000 fellow HCA Healthcare colleagues navigate some of life’s most difficult moments with more than $65 million in financial support.

Amid the global pandemic, the Hope Fund has seen a 75% increase in the number of colleagues who need help. In turn, we’ve seen HCA Healthcare colleagues step up and give of themselves in ways that have brought us to our knees. So far in 2020, with the help of selfless donors, the Hope Fund was able to grant $7.8 million in Hope Fund assistance to colleagues in need, including $2.8 million in COVID-19 related assistance.

“You continue to rise to the challenges of this unprecedented year — caring for our patients and each other in some of the most difficult circumstances,” said HCA Healthcare’s chief executive officer, Sam Hazen, in a recent email to our colleagues to kick off our organization’s annual Hope Fund Week. “I am proud to be part of this great organization where caring like family is not just something we say, it is a way of life.”

Colleagues give hope during Judith’s high-risk pregnancy

HCA Healthcare nurse Judith McDonald pictured with her husband, Joseph, and their twins.

Judith McDonald, a labor and delivery nurse at HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest in Texas, knew her pregnancy would be high risk when she learned last April she was carrying twins. Still, she hoped to work up until her 30th week.

When she started to experience complications that put her and her babies at risk, her doctor placed Judith on medical leave. Suddenly, Judith and her husband, Joseph, had to live on his sole income.

“I was not sure how we were going to afford our bills and our medical expenses and getting ready for the babies,” said Judith. “We would have a total of six months of me not having an income.”

Fortunately, Judith had read the stories of colleagues helping each other through the Hope Fund, and she decided to apply for help.

She was on bedrest when she learned she had been approved. The overwhelming relief brought tears and an end to the stress. Judith’s pregnancy continued safely, and at 36 weeks her healthy babies Ernest and Lucia were born, both named after grandparents.

“We are all doing great,” said Judith, back to work after maternity leave. “The Hope Fund helped me through my pregnancy and has given me the strength to work through everything. HCA Healthcare will always be part of our lives because of the helping hand we got,” she said, “and we’re very appreciative.”

As a Hope Fund donor as well, she encourages colleagues to give if they can. “Even if you donate $1 per paycheck, it can make a great difference,” she said. “From those dollars, a lot of money can be accumulated.”

Most importantly, Judith wants all her colleagues to know that the Hope Fund is here for them.

A look back at Chris’ story  

HCA Healthcare nurse Chris Bondie’s daughter, Grayson.

Seven years ago, Chris Bondie, a HCA Healthcare nurse at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, found his family in need of help after Grayson, his five-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis – a neuromuscular disease that affects the voluntary muscles of the body. Since her diagnosis, she had a multitude of admissions to the hospital, specialist visits, expensive medications and surgeries. The unexpected financial strain quickly added up. By the time she was seven, they knew they would need some help to make ends meet. Thanks to Hope Fund donors, Chris and his family received help!

We checked back in with Chris five years later, who is now working at HCA Healthcare’s Ocala Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida and he is happy to report the following:

“It has been seven years since Grayson was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and five years since we asked for the help of the Hope Fund. Grayson required several surgeries, admissions, clinic visits, specialists and IVIG infusions. It wiped out our savings and maxed out credit cards. The Hope Fund gave us the boost we needed to get us through.

There’s no cure for MG, but by God’s grace Grayson’s symptoms have not progressed and she’s living a mostly normal 12-year-old life… eye rolls and all. Hopefully no more surgeries or IV therapies; just checkups and monitoring. Thank you HCA Healthcare colleagues for contributing any amount to this awesome cause! You cannot understand the blessing it is to those who need it. Thank you!”

Dianna’s story of hope

Patient care tech Dianna Lebron was helped by the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund after her son, Felix, underwent emergency surgery and subsequent hospitalization.

Dianna Lebron has been a major advocate of the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund in the five years since her family received help. Her story was originally shared in 2016.

“I tell people they should give, even if it’s just $1,” said Dianna, a Patient Care Tech at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, Florida. “I want them to know just how beneficial it is to give even $1 to $5 per paycheck, because when it’s added up with everyone else’s donation, it can really help a family.”

In 2015 Dianna’s son Felix, who was 13 years old, underwent emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction. He wound up in the pediatric ICU, and ultimately required three more surgeries as he slowly recovered.

Dianna spent months caring for Felix in the hospital day and night while her husband stayed at home to care for their three other children. During Felix’s hospitalization and recovery, Dianna used up all of her PTO, as well as time available to her through the Family Medical Leave Act.

“I’m the only income in our household, so when Felix was in the hospital for months, I had zero paychecks,” she said. Eventually, all of their savings were depleted as well.

Dianna’s HR department reminded her about the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, so she filled out an application for assistance. “The help we received made such a difference to us during that hard time,” she said. “It allowed me to focus on Felix, and really eased my mind.”

Dianna was so grateful for the Hope Fund’s help during Felix’s extended illness that, upon returning to work, she immediately signed up for a Hope Fund donation to be deducted every pay period. “It’s nice to give back,” she said, “because you never know when you might need help.”

Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising more than 2,000 sites of care, including 186 hospitals, surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers, and physician clinics, in 21 states and the United Kingdom.