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Showing Appreciation for Healthcare Workers is Ceca’s Mission

By Brian Indre

THE RECOGNITION ALONE would be enough for most healthcare workers. (Photo: Courtesy Ceca Foundation)

It’s no surprise to hear that caregivers have had a rough year. That’s why organizations such as the Ceca Foundation have worked hard to provide emotional, and even financial support, to make things just a bit easier on them.

Ceca, which stands for celebrating caregivers, is a non-profit foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. and brings attention and presents awards to caregivers that go the extra mile for their patients. These awards are not limited to only the doctors and nurses, but also include those who hold many positions within the healthcare community.

Nathan Hamme, a George Mason High School graduate and an alumnus of the Falls Church News-Press, became the president of the Ceca in 2019.

“Most are probably familiar with the ‘Employee of the Month’ type of program,” said Hamme. While it is important to honor your team members in any work environment, he explained, it isn’t always done well, and those who work behind the scenes may go unnoticed.

“We put something together that involves a technology component, and a $250 monetary award that we are honored to give away to people,” Hamme said. “We do this in several dozen healthcare communities across the country,”
Ceca Foundation encourages stories for nominations to come from every team member whether they are leadership, managerial, frontline, support services, or clinical services, which gives the opportunity to witness more about what happens on a daily basis.

“We have about 30,000 caregivers who are under the umbrella of our programs and across all these different senior living facilities, hospitals, nursing, and hospice communities in 15 states.”

CECA’s financial gifts serve as an extra layer of gratitude for healthcare workers. (Photo: Courtesy Ceca Foundation)

Hamme said that the foundation views itself as a storytelling organization, which highlights personal stories on the website that brings to light to what healthcare workers do on a day to day basis to improve somebody’s life.

“It shouldn’t be one person’s responsibility to recognize a healthcare worker, and it is important for those in leadership positions to recognize when an employee does a good job, because so much happens behind closed doors and often there is just one person who witnesses it.”

Through the foundation’s partnership, hospitals, nursing facilities and more formally work together by implementing their award program, allowing them to effectively honor and recognize huge portions of staff at each one of these partnered communities.

“We really try to get the patient, residents, and family involved, so that they can nominate one of their favorite caregivers for something they did, or an act of kindness, whether big or small that made a difference for them or put a smile on their face,” said Hamme.

Usually not relying too much on fundraising, the foundation did have a modest fundraising campaign in the late spring when Covid numbers were bad, and did find generous people come out of the woodwork and donate, which helped fund the series of special awards.

As the Covid-19 pandemic places an increased strain on healthcare professionals and caregivers, the recognition of their work is more important than ever. The burnout and turnover of those in this field is high at present, and for understandable reasons; that’s why Ceca went out of its way to present an extra set of awards to those who weathered the ongoing storm of the pandemic.

“We did between 40-50 additional awards this past year that we didn’t sign up for, but felt that it was the right thing to do, and it gave us the opportunity to tell Covid-specific stories that provided insight to the many challenges to the healthcare environment,” said Hamme.

With Covid tapering off at the moment, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to let up on support for caregivers. Instead, it’s the time to figure out better ways to give back to the caregivers who are protecting the nation’s elderly and for anybody young or old who walks into a care facility.

“There is no such thing as too much recognition for people who do the right thing,” said Hamme.