Officials at CarePoint Health had more reason than most to support efforts to raise funds for ALS research and treatment when they marched outside the front door of Christ Hospital on Aug. 27 to get a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads.
One of their own, former executive director of Bayonne Medical Center (and still a member of the hospital board), Daniel Kane suffers from the disease.
“We’re doing this for him.” – Allyson Miller
The challenge, which has gone viral on the internet, raises money and awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive disorder that weakens the sufferer’s muscles until they are unable to breathe.
Many ALS sufferers pass away within 40 months of a diagnosis. Lou Gehrig, a Yankees first baseman in the 1930s, passed away in 1941 at age 37 from the disorder. In the United States, 30,000 people are suffering with ALS right now.
Since the challenge became popular six weeks ago, ALS has raised more than $80 million, and awareness has increased at least 50 percent. The money will go to research for treatment or cures.
People taking the challenge can either raise awareness, or donate money, or both. They can also challenge others.
Miller said the challenge will conclude on Sept. 9 on the front lawn of Bayonne Medical Center, where hundreds of CarePoint Health employees are expected to be doused in ice water.
“For every employee who decides to take on the challenge, CarePoint Health will donate $100 to the ALS Association,” she said.
Although the event has drawn national attention, this is very personal for CarePoint since Kane, before stepping down at executive director of BMC two years ago, was a pivotal figure in helping set up the ground work for the saving of BMC itself and later as a model for the other two hospitals in the CarePoint chain.
Kane retired at the end of January 2012, before the onset of ALS. He still attended some functions, despite his ailment.
Under Kane’s watch, Bayonne Medical Center became one of the first hospitals in the nation to challenge insurance companies and to fight for fair reimbursement rates. Under Kane’s direction, the hospital turned a number of things around and made improvements that allowed the hospital to turn a profit within a year, and cooperative agreements helped the hospital to restore some programs that the prior management had been forced to abandon.
Dressed in business attire that included suits and ties, paint suits and skirts, even pearl necklaces, the top brass took the cold dunk well, and contributed to one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in modern history. The ALS website only had raised $2.6 million last year, as compared with much more in just the last six weeks.
Those drenched on Aug. 27 were Dr. Nizar Kifaieh, president and CMO of Christ Hospital; Dr Bill Holubek , Asst. CMO at Christ Hospital; Dr Vijay Singh, CMO at Bayonne Medical Center; Dr. Meika Roberson, CMO of Hoboken University Medical Center, and Ann Logan, COO of Hoboken University Medical Center.
Nurses get their turn
A day earlier on Aug. 26, nurses from the CarePoint school of nursing near Christ Hospital in Jersey City held their own bucket ceremony.
Faith Link, a Secaucus resident and student of the school, said the administrative staff wanted to do something because their nurses deal with ALS, among other conditions.
Braced by warm weather, Lisa Cieckiewsicz McCall, assistant director of administrative services, joined Dr. Lori Byrd, assistant dean, Suzanne Samsom, administrative assistant for student services, and Link on the front steps where they were showered with ice water.
The nursing program is closely associated with Christ Hospital, and predates CarePoint, and has been graduating nurses for over 100 years. Its hall displays photographs of graduating classes dating back to 1902. The two year program had a cooperative agreement with Hudson County Community College and New Jersey City University that allows students to earn additional degrees.
Rated as a Center of Excellence by the state, the school has a hefty number of incoming freshmen, Byrd said, more than 110 this year.
“We wanted to do something to show our support for ALS awareness,” Byrd said, just prior to getting drenched.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.