Beginning in 2018, Josh’s Fund expanded its mission of career development for nurses to include support for resiliency enabling the establishment of The Josh Gottheil Memorial Endowment for the Promotion of Resiliency at the Siteman Cancer Center/Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Washington University in St. Louis MO. Josh was a patient in the bone marrow transplant unit at Barnes Hospital and it was the nurses who cared for him there that inspired Josh’s Fund to be dedicated to support for oncology nurses.
In 2021, Josh’s Fund established a second endowment for the Josh Gottheil Memorial Nurse Resiliency Fund at Carle Health in Urbana, IL. Josh was born at Carle Hospital and Carle Health serves the wider community in which he grew up and had spent his fulfilling but too short life.
Resiliency support could not have come at a better time. The pandemic that began in 2020 brought attention to the added stress on the entire medical system, leading to burnout, fatigue and early retirement of many nurses and other health care professionals. The vast majority, however, carried on and their dedication and professionalism was never more evident.
Siteman Cancer Center
Under the direction of the Vice President for Oncology Services, this endowment sponsors symposia and other programs to teach nurses and other health care professionals and families proven methods for maintaining good mental and emotional health so they may continue caring for patients with empathy and understanding.
Resiliency training topics include:
- Addressing compassion fatigue and lowering the effects of stress and burnout
- Providing ongoing support to staff members, recognizing signs of struggling, and using tools to manage everyday challenges
- Using storytelling to strengthen resiliency, energize one’s brain and create a sense of belonging and connectedness
- Writing letters of gratitude, learning to give oneself credit for handling adversity, and identifying ways to reduce negativity
On May 20, 2019, Siteman Cancer Center hosted the first Josh Gottheil Memorial Symposium with a diverse program that included keynote speaker Eileen McDargh, CEO of The Resiliency Group, and was attended by well over one-hundred nurses and their fellow-health care providers. Honored attendees included two of the BMT nurses that had cared for Josh at Barnes Hospital in 1988-89 whose loving care and professionalism inspired Josh’s Fund to dedicate its support to their colleagues across the world. At the reception that preceded the program, two of the attendees spoke of having been students of the late Professor Fred Gottheil, founder and leading light of Josh’s Fund. The circle of life expands…
Following the symposium, Christi Longnecker, Siteman’s vice president of oncology services, who in her professional experience has worked with patients in bone marrow and stem cell transplant units, wrote:
“…I cannot stress enough how very meaningful this gift and the establishment of this resiliency program has been to our caregivers at Siteman. We continue to hear from the symposium attendees just how touched they were that you and the board were motivated to make a gift to support their mental and emotional well-being… Josh’s spirit and your generosity will continue to inspire the compassion and care given to each of our child, adolescent and adult patients every single day.”
A second Josh Gottheil Memorial Resiliency Symposium was held virtually on September 29, 2020. National best-selling author and speaker John O’Leary gave an inspiring talk about his own journey, what helped him to build resiliency, and his decision to dedicate himself to passing his lessons to others.
Given the challenges of 2021, the team at Siteman postponed plans for the another resiliency symposium but nevertheless was able to sponsor the third on January 25, 2022. Once again it was held virtually and brought back the inspirational and motivational speaker John O’Leary, who again delivered a moving and timely message. Soon after the the symposium a video recording of the third Josh Gottheil Memorial Resiliency Symposium was prominently featured in an all-staff newsletter for Siteman nurses, physicians, and other staff with a message from from both Christina Longnecker and Siteman Director Timothy Eberlein, M.D.
The endowment created for nurses at Carle Health was announced with a two-page spread in Transforming Care, Impacting Lives, the 2021 Charitable Giving Annual Report of the Carle Center for Philanthropy. The article was titled “Caring for those Who Care for Us” and included quotes from Josh’s Fund President Diane Gottheil and photographs of Josh and his family.
On August 31 2022, a message from Laura Caveny, Director of Development and Grateful Giving for Carle Center for Philanthropy, announced plans for the Carle Caring Crew with support from the Josh Gottheil Nurse Resiliency Fund. This new program is a team member initiative focused on supporting caregiver/nurse wellbeing throughout the hospital and clinic setting. Modeled on a program developed at Cleveland Clinic in 2008, called “Code Lavender,” the Caring Crew is designed to support nursing staff through traumatic, acute events, as well as in chronic stress situations. The goal is to create an environment to support healing and relaxation in times of need for nurses and caregivers, and further to assist in preventing burnout and provide relief to those experiencing compassion fatigue on the floors. Both proactive and reactive strategies of support are being developed for the teams. More news from Carle Health will be announced in the coming months.