Hackensack Meridian Health Launches Circle of Compassion, a Financial Assistance Program to Benefit Health Care Heroes

September 30, 2020

Nearly $1 million provided to help team members in need thanks to generous community member donations and 100 percent organizational leadership support 

 Hackensack Meridian Health has launched the Circle of Compassion program, which provides compassionate, timely and equitable financial assistance to team members affected by a disaster or personal monetary hardship. Built on the existing team member financial assistance programs available through two of the network’s philanthropic entities, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation (Colleague to Colleague Fund) and Meridian Health Foundation (When in Need Fund), the Circle of Compassion program was developed in quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the financial health of team members throughout Hackensack Meridian Health.

As of August 31, more than $1.3 million has been provided to 1,050 team members to help cover costs such as groceries, mortgage payments, utility bills and funeral expenses. In addition to donations from community members, the program received a significant boost of $1.2 million in funding thanks to contributions from 100 percent of Hackensack Meridian Health senior leadership.

“Our team members come to work to care for our community,” says Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Sometimes, behind their smiles are worries about their own family’s physical and financial health, and this was never truer than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partners lost work, households took in older generations, childcare costs increased due to school closures, family members became ill or passed away and the financial burden hit home. We recognized the incredible strain that put on the team, adding to the stress they were already under, which is why it was so important for us to care for their financial health. I am incredibly grateful to the selfless leaders at Hackensack Meridian Health who gave of themselves to help their fellow Hackensack Meridian Health family members. It is truly representative of the generous and caring nature of our organization.”

The program is built on three guiding principles: complete confidentiality; expediency – reviewing applications within five days; and compassionate equity with decisions based upon outlined criteria and with compassion.

“At Hackensack Meridian Health, we believe that humanizing health care includes supporting our care team so that they are prepared to provide exceptional care and compassion to our patients and the community,” says Nancy Corcoran-Davidoff, executive vice president, chief experience and human resources officer, Hackensack Meridian Health. “For programs like this, we rely on leader, team member and community contributions. Recipients of these funds are frontline workers who worked tirelessly to support our community, and we are hopeful that the community will in turn, support this vital resource for our health care heroes.”

Several recipients of the funds have said:

“My dad lives alone and was hospitalized beginning in April. For about five months, he was unable to care for anything and so I was responsible for his bills and mine. At the same time, my husband’s hours were cut. I picked up extra hours to pay all the bills, but it was very hard to do and very stressful for me. I cried myself to sleep many nights. I was so thankful to receive help from the Circle of Compassion program. It showed that the company I work for really cares about their employees during this difficult time.” – Anonymous

“I am so very grateful for your compassion! A simple thank you seems to pale in comparison to what I feel. Life is funny. I have contributed to our Colleague to Colleague fund ever since its inception, but never once did I ever think I would be the one in need. Thank you, Circle of Compassion from the bottom of my heart.” – Anonymous

“I hold Hackensack Meridian Health in the highest regard, and I am proud to work for Hackensack University Medical Center. On the same day my wife gave birth to our son at the medical center in 2006, I was offered a position to work there. I have been with the company for 14 years and have always felt like a valued employee. However, when I was awarded financial assistance to help pay my mortgage through the Circle of Compassion program, I felt more appreciated and valued than ever before. I was beyond grateful to be awarded the support during a difficult time. It brought such a relief to my family and me, and I am truly blessed to be part of a corporation that cares immensely for its employees during times of challenge and uncertainty. Thank you, Hackensack Meridian Health, for all that you do to ensure your team members are taken care of and feel supported.” – Anonymous

“My family and I have suffered tremendously this year. In such a short time span, our baby passed away, my husband lost his job due to COVID-19 and I became very sick due to my autoimmune disease. I had to take time off of work because of it. But, it was important for my husband and I to be strong for our three young children and make sure they knew that everything was going to be okay. When Hackensack Meridian Health announced the Circle of Compassion to team members, I applied for assistance to pay for my mortgage and they came through – quickly. My family and I are so grateful and filled with appreciation. It brought us so much relief and took a burden off our shoulders. We are still playing catch up, but we are in a much better position now than we were before. Thank you, Hackensack Meridian Health for creating this program to aid all of us during this challenging time!” – Mimoza Murseli, Hackensack University Medical Center

To make a gift in support the Circle of Compassion program, please visit www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/circleofcompassion.