Employee Giving Impacts Change

Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2022

W.A.T.C.H Funds Employee Projects

Every day, employees of Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) go about the business of caring for the health of the Northeast Georgia region, and when asked to give back to support healthcare through NGHS Foundation campaigns, they do – generously and passionately. Through NGHS’ employee giving club, WATCH (We Are Targeting Community Health), NGHS employees have funded technological improvements, therapeutic programs, patient assistance, and ongoing education at the system’s hospitals, as well as many community programs.

In addition to raising money for health-related needs, WATCH funds employee improvement ideas from across NGHS. The Change Grants program was launched in 2019 as a way for employees to submit ideas to improve the patient, visitor, or employee experience at any NGHS facility.

NGHS Employee Seeks to Enhance Patient Experience

Jessica Smith is one such employee. As a physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) specializing in ReGain, the neurological outpatient rehabilitation program, she is tasked with facilitating patients’ return to their normal activities as best as they can. She applied for a Change Grant, requesting the creation of a mobility garden – an outdoor space with various surfaces, inclines, and activities that a patient would typically encounter in their day-to-day life. The garden would use gravel, sand, grass, narrow pavement walkways, stone paths, and mulch and include benches and raised gardening beds to allow them to return to their hobbies, too.

“At this time, outdoor space for working with patients includes an employee parking lot and patient lot, which is not the safest option,” Smith said. “This will bring a multi-disciplinary benefit as our occupational therapists will have a place to garden with patients as well. My motivation to apply for this grant was to give our department a space to improve quality of life and help patients return to hobbies and mobility safely. This garden will allow us to have a greater, far-reaching impact.”

Smith is one of four recipients chosen in the fall of 2021 to begin projects in various areas to enhance patient care in unique and significant ways.