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    Why Generosity Matters

    There is a new paradigm forming in health care, and in the philanthropy that fuels its innovation and service. It's based on the notion that generosity heals. And it's not just healing the patients and their families who receive treatment or support that a donor may fund, but the donor, too. "We believe giving is a path of personal growth, transforming the one who gives as well as the one who receives," says Leanne Kaiser Carlson, a health care futurist with the Kaiser Institute. "It rarely occurs to most people that what they receive is possible because people like them share their resources to help create it." Carlson began with a simple observation - that people entering a hospital or clinic create stories in their minds. These stories help them interpret what they see and experience. Patients and families create narratives about what motivates the caregivers they encounter and how the organization affords its extraordinary care and services.Often these stories are shaped by perceptions of excessive profit or even greed in health care. "Patients perceive excellence but do not necessarily connect it to generosity," says Carlson. "They know little about philanthropic partners, the altruism of a physician or nurse, or even the way the organization itself embodies generosity. So, few engage by giving themselves. "And in hospitals or clinics where generosity is consciously cultivated, though it may be technologically impressive, there is a palpable humility and connectedness," she continues. "Clinicians often acknowledge a generosity partner - someone of average means who gave to help make a service possible. And caregivers see themselves as part of a larger fabric and know they are able to do what they do because of hundreds of other people. So as generosity heals, it creates a future of more generosity."

    Perspectives on Generosity

    Pam Pansini, Volunteer
    As a volunteer at Sutter Health Novato for more than five years, Pam Pansini enjoys being a part of the hospital team that provides health care for the community, particularly children with juvenile diabetes. She also raises money for community projects like the Novato Unified School District Partnership. "I am gratified to know that my choice to devote my time and resources contributes to the high level of health care offered at our hospital," says Pam. "Many of our programs would not exist without the commitment of our volunteers." "The work is very gratifying. My husband Andy and I believe that generosity matters because the gift you receive is greater than the gift you give."

    Judy Badgley, Patient & Donor
    "As a patient, generosity matters because it means that someone has compassion for what you are going through," says Judy Badgley, a cancer survivor and donor to Sutter Health Santa Rosa. "In turn, as a donor, showing compassion for someone else andmaking a positive impact is very healing for the soul." "One of my favorite quotes is by RalphWaldo Emerson: 'It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.' " "Judy and her family give because of their gratitude for their health and to support others who are where they have been," adds Penny Cleary, director of development for Sutter Health North Bay. "I believe that giving from a place of gratitude and healing is the purest form of generosity."

    Frederick Johnson, M.D.
    "A mother arrived at our surgical pavilion with her 6-year-old son recently diagnosed with acute appendicitis," recalls Frederick Johnson, M.D., chief of staff at Sutter Lakeside Hospital. "Emergency surgery is required and the frazzled mother looks to the anesthesiologist to calm the moment. "Instead of going through the usual medical interview, the anesthesiologist looks into the tearful eyes of his young patient and asks what is worrying him. "The little boy expresses concern about his 4-weekold puppy - who will care for him and how long will he be away from his most trusted friend? "The anesthesiologist uses the opportunity to engage the patient in conversation and soon has covered his medical history and physical exam, including a couple of loose teeth that the patient expects to be paid 'a lot of money' from the tooth fairy soon! Now anxious rather than frazzled, the mother waits in the lounge, nurses checking in frequently to allay concerns, and the electronic message board providing information as her son passes through the laparoscopic surgery without incident. The little boy awakens the next morning to the wet tongue of his puppy upon his face. That, I think, is generosity at its best, and is what we practice here every day."

    Maurice Kanbar, Philanthropist
    Over the years, Maurice Kanbar has pledged a significant sum to CPMC’s cardiology department. His gifts have helped build a facility that is exceptional at diagnosing heart disease, treating people with irregular heartbeats, and opening blocked blood vessels or arteries. Drawing patients from around the world, the Kanbar Cardiac Center is considered one of the best heart and cardiovascular services in the country."Both my parents died of heart failure," says Kanbar. "So to me, if we can make some progress in solving the problem of heart failure, or if we can find ways of reducing the chances of it, I'd be very happy."As for why generosity matters, Kanbar says,"I grew up in a house where the attitude was if you have more on your table than you can eat, you find someone who is hungry and share. And as the old saying goes, you can't take it with you, so I'm leaving my money to those who need it."