Jean Hopkins Memorial Award Brings ‘That Special Something’ to Patients

Sometimes the soft touches, the surprising interventions that comfort and delight a patient, can be just as welcome as the right medicine.

Thanks to a new awards program underwritten by the Albany Medical Center Auxiliary, patients this summer will be enjoying some soothing new supports as they heal at Albany Medical Center: dazzling therapy lights to calm and engage psychiatric patients, iPads to connect patients in quarantine with their loved ones at home—even furry therapeutic interactive cats.

These are just a few of the happy outcomes of the Jean Hopkins Memorial Awards Program, which invites nurses from medical and surgical units to submit wish-list items they feel would enhance their patients’ stays. The Auxiliary reviews these petitions and then selects recipients for the $25,000 annual award.

This year’s awardees are: the Psychiatric Unit, which received a big-screen TV and updated TV services as well as sensory lights, aroma diffusers, electronic therapy pets and a host of other alternative therapies; D4-East, which received two rolling mobile iPad stations; and the Sexual Assault Forensic Nurse Examiner Program in the Department of Emergency Medicine, which was gifted with a brand-new exam stretcher, Bluetooth speakers, art work and aftercare materials to help patients work through their feelings.

The Auxiliary celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and while some still think of it in quaint terms, a purveyor of bake sales and ladies’ luncheons, it is nonetheless a fundraising powerhouse, recently pledging $125,000 to The Massry Family Children’s Emergency Center.

The new $25,000 award is named after Jean “Hoppy” Hopkins, who served Albany Medical Center for more than 70 years, first as lab specialist and then as an Auxilian and hospital volunteer.

“We wanted to do something for our adult patients and we have a soft spot in our heart for the nursing units,” said Auxiliary President Shirley Myers, RN. She explained that, once awardees are chosen, Kelly Morrone, manager of Volunteer Services, and administrative assistant Kim Read are the “savvy detectives” who help track down the items themselves. “It’s a joy,” Myers said, “to hone in on those special things that can help make a patient’s experience go from good to great.”