Philanthropy: Lighting the Way

Both J.D. and Genevieve Murphy support MedStar Washington Hospital Center with extensive philanthropy, from the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute to the pioneering Medical House Call Program and the Center for Excellence in Nursing (CEN). In fact, a recent gift will be used to build a simulation lab to train nurses in a number of specialties, including an innovative OR simulation program. In addition, J.D., a grateful patient, is chair of the Washington Hospital Center Foundation and on the Hospital Center Board of Directors. The Murphys tell Center Nurse why they make a special effort to support nurses and nursing education.

CN: Your gifts to nursing suggest you have a special place in your hearts for nurses.

Genevieve: We do! We have a niece who is a nurse. But more than our family connection, we know nurses are critical. They are on the front line every day, watching over patients. In addition to providing care, the nurse is a critical link between the physician, the patient and the family. I’ve sat in many a hospital with a loved one in the OR or intensive care, and I can tell you the nurse is your lifeline.

J.D.: I know that operationally, from [Hospital Center President] John Sullivan on down, there is complete understanding that nurses are vital to the provision of excellent health care at the Hospital Center. [Chief Nursing Executive] Sue Eckert is on the President’s Council, she’s at the Board meetings, and everyone recognizes that nursing is an equal partner to other providers. So supporting our nurses is critical; it’s part of our support of the Hospital Center.

CN: What motivates you to support nursing education?

J.D.: Having a Center for Excellence in Nursing is the right step forward. When I speak with physicians about what drives them to the Hospital Center from all over the world, they tell me it’s that they treat diseases and conditions here they don’t see anywhere else. The challenge is to create a solution for these patients, and every day of the week, the doctors work hard to come up with the best, most thoughtful solutions. So, whether you are talking about cardiac care, or cancer, or orthopaedics, you are talking about the best doctors providing state-of-the-art care. That requires nurses who know what they are doing and are given the training to support this advanced medical care.

Genevieve: I have aging parents who have had to deal with numerous medical issues. The nurse is their mediator and link to medical knowledge. It’s clear that nurses are critical to helping patients set expectations and understand their treatment. We want to support their continuing professional development, so they can continue to support their patients.

CN: Do you think there is a growing awareness of the need for philanthropy to support nurses, and hospitals in general?

Genevieve: We understand that the CEN receives donations from a number of nurses at the Hospital Center. Those gifts show that nurses value this kind of research and training. If we can help it grow from there, that would be great. We want to light the way for others who understand the importance of nursing and giving nurses the professional support they need.