For more than a year, the Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) at Suburban Hospital — a Johns Hopkins Medicine community hospital located in Bethesda, Maryland — has helped employees navigate financial stressors, especially those resulting from a challenging pandemic environment.
Thanks to a seed gift from Jared and Irene Drescher, as well as gifts from Suburban employees, EAF has been able to extend its reach and provide recipients with assistance of up to $2,000 per individual to bridge financial gaps. The confidential program is open to all Suburban employees.
“The Employee Assistance Fund was created to provide immediate funds to those in need — to ease their burden and relieve their mental and emotional stress,” Jared Drescher says. “We wanted to do something beneficial to help the Suburban Hospital staff, who were on overload, to show our appreciation for their service. Every position was important, be it medical, administrative, or maintenance.”
Suburban’s employees’ dedication during the pandemic encouraged the Dreschers, longtime Montgomery County residents, to help launch the fund. They watched as hospitals across the country became overwhelmed and had difficulty keeping up with the surging demand for care and recognized the pressure on employees. People under stress do not perform at their highest level, Jared says, and Suburban’s staff’s best was required to fight COVID-19.
The need for EAF support has only increased during the pandemic, with more people facing evictions, partner job loss, and unanticipated childcare costs during school closures. Philanthropic donations have been important and welcome in helping staff make ends meet during COVID-19, explains Pam Fogan, Suburban’s director of Volunteer Services.
“We want to help employees successfully navigate unexpected financial challenges,” she adds. “These can include any major emergency costs that can become stressors.”
EAF also connects recipients to other resources, like social workers and outside programming, to help them long-term.
We wanted to do something beneficial to help the Suburban Hospital staff, who were on overload, to show our appreciation for their service. Every position was important, be it medical, administrative, or maintenance.”
Jared DrescherSeed donor to Suburban Hospital's Employee Assistance Fund
EAF recipients are encouraged to give back when they can to help ensure the program continues to support other employees in need. Fogan says recipients will also often send cards or thank-you notes and are inspired by EAF donors’ generosity. She hopes more hospitals will establish similar programs, especially within the Johns Hopkins Health System.
“Hopkins is encouraging a culture of taking care of each other,” Fogan says. “I think that makes for a healthier environment. I’m just hoping it spreads like wildfire.”
For Eric Dobkin, MD, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Suburban, the staff at Suburban are like a family. The close-knit community inspired Dobkin and his wife, Ceil, to contribute to EAF. They hope their support of the program will make employee burdens lighter, allow them to continue to work at Suburban, and let them know their work is valued.
“It is a wonderful place to work with truly wonderful people,” Dobkin says. “I know that many of our staff here have their own family or personal struggles. Those struggles have only been intensified the last 20 months of the pandemic. My wife and I feel felt very strongly that we want to give back, and there’s no place better to give back than Suburban where the staff response has been not just heroic, but inspirational. They’re providing a great source of comfort and care to our community.”
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