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Giving may be good for your health

By Michelle Fortune

Healthcare Umbrella

With Independence Day still lingering in my thoughts, ideas relating to freedom come to mind.

Celebrating the Fourth of July always makes me nostalgic, and I love American history and the story of how our nation was born. It’s amazing to me to read stories of so many regular folks who gave their time, wisdom and ultimately their lives to create the country we now enjoy.

What does all this have to do with healthcare? Traditionally, we focus on giving during the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this pandemic, as with many seasons of adversity, seems to have ushered giving to the forefront of our minds. Many have stepped up to help their high-risk or elderly neighbors by picking up their groceries, others have made cloth face masks for healthcare workers or friends, and some have even donated funds to local or long-distance relief efforts.

What you may not know is that much research has been done to show giving can actually be good for you!

The International Journal of Psychophysiology has published articles on the positive effects of supporting others, and the University of Michigan and University of California, Berkeley are two entities that have published studies on the positive physical effects of giving. The Cleveland Clinic and the National Institutes of Health have also studied individuals who give to determine the possible physical benefits.

Most of us have experienced a level of joy and happiness when we help others. Researchers have shown that these feelings release endorphins, and the activation of our brain’s reward center creates what some call a “helper’s high.” It feels good to give! Other benefits that have been noted are improved self-esteem, less depression or stress, lower blood pressure and an overall feeling of wellness.

Additionally, a study from Harvard Business School shows that when we demonstrate a spirit of giving, others are inspired to do the same. Those researchers indicate that altruism can actually influence by as much as three degrees. In other words, from your actions to another person to another person to another person. WOW! Our giving has large ripple effects that could easily initiate a cascade of generosity and goodness!

Furthermore, if the giving supports the protection of your entire local community, vital resources or agencies that offer much needed services, it becomes even more worthwhile. Many have asked me how they can help St. Luke’s now and in the future.

First, supporting and utilizing our services for any and all healthcare needs you or your family have is a wonderful way to give us an opportunity to serve you, and it helps sustain us financially. Secondly, St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation is a place where you can safely and securely make financial donations that will benefit the hospital and our ambulatory healthcare locations.

The Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Trustees and comprised of local residents who volunteer their time and talents to serve. They have structured reviews of donations and processes in place to effectively oversee and ensure that donated funds support St. Luke’s in the manner intended by the donor.

In 2019, the St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation provided funding for ICU furniture, a specialized bike for the Rehab Center, bed trays for our Emergency Department, a hand surgery table to facilitate new procedures, and additional critical healthcare equipment. Currently, the Foundation is raising funds to renovate the medical surgical patient rooms, a much-needed project! If you want to be certain that your gift is used to improve healthcare here in Polk County, you can trust that St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation will manage your gift in a thoughtful and appropriate manner. We all benefit greatly from the gifts they manage. St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation is equipped to handle planned giving, bequests, legacy gifts, monthly support gifts and one-time gifts that are restricted or unrestricted. St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation Executive Director Katie Malone will be happy to answer any questions you may have about how you might support local healthcare in this way. She can be reached at 828-894-2693.

Whether you have a Mammogram in our radiology department, visit one of our physician’s offices, undergo surgery at the hospital or choose to provide a financial gift to our Foundation, please know that choosing to support the St. Luke’s network impacts our community on a daily basis. Lives are saved, patients are treated locally instead of driving long-distance and future healthcare services in our community are secured by your choice to support us.

As one of the few remaining locally owned and operated hospitals in North Carolina, your desire to give makes a difference for us in a genuine, tangible way, and that may just be great for your health as well!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or visit our website at SaintLukesHospital.com. We are eager to hear from you, connect with you and serve you.

Michelle Fortune can be contacted at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org.