Gratitude Stories- February 2021

Gratitude is expressed all across MedStar Health-from our friends, families, caregivers, community, and patients. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Click the photos to view each gratitude story.


Healthcare Heroes Say Thank You

A Tragedy Inspires Hope and Gratitude



Transplant Care Inspires Grateful Patient to Help Others

When Gary Seiden, DDS, went in for a lung scan in January 2019 on the advice of a friend, he was in for a shock. He learned that his lungs were fine, but that he had a suspicious spot in his abdomen that was identified as a cancerous tumor of the liver presenting with no symptoms. After having an initial procedure done at another Baltimore-area hospital and receiving a level of care that he found to be lacking, Dr. Seiden chose to be placed on the transplant list at our MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. On July 4, he received the official call that a new liver was available for him.

“There’s so much stress while you’re on the transplant list. Every call you get you have to pick up the phone and every time you answer your heart sinks,” Dr. Seiden says. With COVID-19 visitor restrictions in place, Dr. Seiden was unable to have his husband with him, but he received exceptional care from his medical team that prevented him from feeling alone.

“It was the greatest experience you could possibly have in a liver transplant. I had so much confidence in my team and I trusted everything that they said because the care I received felt really individualized,” he states. While making a surprisingly quick recovery from the transplant surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Dr. Seiden spoke with Dayna Kuhar, an old friend and member of the MedStar Georgetown philanthropy team, about his experience. Dr. Seiden shared with Dayna that he wanted to express his gratitude surrounding his seamless transplant experience immediately.

Dr. Seiden was interested in the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Patient Medication Assistance fund, supporting patients who cannot afford their vital transplant medications. Two days after his transplant procedure while still in the hospital, he donated funds and encouraged friends to do the same, recognizing the impact of expressing gratitude. Giving back to the system that cared for him with such expertise has also inspired Dr. Seiden to continue his philanthropic vision with Dayna to build a lasting legacy at MedStar Georgetown.

Dr. Seiden is grateful for the exceptional medical care that he received, especially from his transplant coordinator Maggie Green, transplant surgeon Raffaelle Girlanda, MD, and hepatologist Amol S. Rangnekar, MD. “Being a provider, I personally know the importance of sitting and listening to patients, and this team did that,” Dr. Seiden acknowledges. “Every single thing was done with care, which matters.” 

Soup Entrepreneur in the District Gives Back to Healthcare Heroes During COVID-19

Is there food more comforting than soup? Sara Polon doesn’t think so. As the co-founder and chief executive officer of Soupergirl, Polon and her mother Marilyn began their company making fresh and natural soups for the greater Washington, D.C., area over 10 years ago. In early 2020, as coronavirus began to sweep across the country, Polon was looking for a way to support local healthcare heroes in the area and remembered that a friend had gone through a successful rehabilitation experience at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. With that in mind, Polon contacted MedStar Health to inquire about the ability to express gratitude through an in-kind partnership and provide comfort with what she knew best—healthy food.

“I’m sad it took a pandemic for the community to recognize that we rely on healthcare workers,” Polon notes. Her gratitude to those on the front lines continued over the next few months, and resulted in regular, weekly contributions to the healthcare associates of MedStar NRH totaling donations of over 800 soups and salads. The weekly meals from Soupergirl inspired optimism amongst and helped fuel—literally and figuratively—the MedStar NRH team members. Ranging from the overnight nursing shift to the environmental staff, each weekly delivery targeted a different team of MedStar NRH associates. Campbell Frank, philanthropy officer at MedStar NRH, notes “our staff make an incredible difference in the lives of so many. Gifts-in-kind from the community are a physical reminder—in this case, delicious and nutritious soups and salads—that the dedication of our hardworking staff does not go unnoticed.”

Our staff have been awed by Soupergirl’s generosity; more so, they were ecstatic to receive a delicious and healthy meal that could be eaten quickly between shifts. Director of quality & patient safety Judy Zdobysz, who helped distribute the meals to MedStar NRH associates, added, “the food has been so well received and our staff are so grateful for the generosity.” The support MedStar NRH received from Soupergirl absolutely makes a difference in the ability to do everything we can to address the needs of our patients, while maintaining best-in-class acute rehabilitative care.

While Soupergirl provided meals throughout the region, the partnership with MedStar NRH was strengthened due to great relationships formed between our associates and the Soupergirl staff. Polon explains, “the MedStar NRH team engaged with us on a level that no one else did. There was positive feedback and extreme gratitude from the staff which fed the Soupergirl team’s motivation. When our team prepared food for the staff at MedStar NRH, there was a whole new level of appreciation.”

Soupergirl reminded MedStar Health associates that the community cares—and that this partnership was one grounded in gratitude. 

Expressing Gratitude with Kind Words

"Thank you for all the sacrifices you are making to care for all of us. I can only imagine what it's like in your world right now. Please know that we care for you and we pray for your safety and your families."

Lanetta G.

"It takes unusual courage and dedication to step up and answer the call of a lifetime. You are extraordinary people who have our honor and respect forever!”

Paul F.

"To each of you who are sacrificing yourself and your family to take care of me, my family, and truly the world. My sincerest gratitude and thank you.”

Rosalind B.

"To all the nurses, doctors, physicians, and anyone in the medical department, I would just like to thank all of you for what you're doing. You all are the true heroes during times like these and you often do not get enough credit for your work. Putting yourself in harm's way every day to help and protect those who cannot help themselves is something straight out of a movie. Thank you.”

Frankie B.

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We invite you to participate in our culture of gratitude. Share your story.