Supporting the Front Lines of COVID-19

October 13, 2020

Typically, we photograph every person appearing in HealthU. Because this story was planned during the surge of COVID-19, that contact would have been too risky. Instead, our team took a creative approach and replaced photo shoots with illustrated portraits.

You’d be hard-pressed to find many plans that weren’t altered or canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The network-wide expansion of the Hackensack Meridian Health High School Academy for Career Exploration was no exception.

In addition to her Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees member duties, Andria Schneiderman initiated and spearheaded the pilot program in 2016 at Hackensack University Medical Center. “The program gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to intern within the hospital—not just in a clinical role, but in every possible position in the health care setting,” she says.

The pilot was green-lighted to go network-wide in March 2020. Then, the novel coronavirus began its surge and much of the world came to a standstill, including the internship program.

Andria pivoted her efforts to focus on the health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic. “Team members were working 24/7 to fight the virus,” says Andria’s husband, Fred Schneiderman, who is president and CEO of energy investment firm FBS Properties. “At the same time, they didn’t know if their spouses might be laid off or if someone in their family would become ill.”

Adds Andria: “Regardless of what was going on in their personal lives, these team members were going back in to battle this virus every day. I have been so incredibly inspired by the health care workers putting their lives at stake.”

She wasted no time in reaching out to Clare Ward, vice president of principal giving at the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation. “Andria told me she wanted to support team members on the front lines and leverage the relationships she has in the community for donations,” Clare says. “She really cares about our hospital and the people who work here.”

The Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund in March to support patient care, advance research for COVID-19 treatments and fund critical needs of team members. Andria worked with the Foundation to set up her own peer-to-peer fundraising page, with proceeds benefiting the Circle of Compassion program. The program assists team members in need, whether through gift cards to grocery stores, help paying a mortgage or other unanticipated expenses related to the pandemic. “Andria and Fred shared the page with everyone they knew who they believed would have the proclivity to participate,” Clare says. “It just took off.”

Andria and Fred emphasized that no donation was too small; every bit counts. “Everyone we approached had such wonderful experiences with the hospital over the years, and they felt connected to the team members,” Andria says. “When it came time to lift up the hospital, our community was ready.”

So far, nearly $80,000 has been donated to the COVID-19 Response Fund. “I’m very happy with the outcome,” Andria says. “But we’re not done.”

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