Why I Give: Mary Drottz, RN

Mary Drottz is an RN and works in quality improvement at St. Louise Regional Hospital—that means she sees every step of patient care and works to make it safer. With covid-19, it was vital to ensure that staff were protected as well.

With more patients coming in with the new virus, Mary says, “we had to put new systems into place, creating protocols that required everyone to abide by them. They were a lot and you had to be careful, but the nurses did such a great job.” Staff were exhausted by the work, scared for patients and for themselves.

“I saw what the VMC Foundation did for all staff, giving PPE but also providing boosts to staff morale —from the frontlines to those of us in the back offices. It takes all of us to keep things going,” she said.

The team has worked hard, for months now. As we head into the cold season, Mary is hopeful that the plan they built will hold together. “We haven’t had any cross contamination and we haven’t seen staff infected by patients.”

Mary reflects, “You can’t build a house and you can’t support a health system without a strong foundation. And you don’t want a community without a hospital. I donate because it all goes back to the community.”

Thank you, Mary and thank you to all of the staff throughout our health system who fight to keep us safe.

Why I Give – Keeping Rose On Her Feet

At 89 years old, Rose lives a full and vibrant life. She’s a life long resident of the Valley, and is part of a community she loves. Several years ago, when her husband had an accident — a woodshop project gone awry — he received care at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So Rose has been a kind donor ever since.

She didn’t know much about the county health system. She donated because she cares about her community and she was glad there was a county hospital for everyone.

One day in March of this year, while standing in her kitchen, Rose’s vision blurred and she started feeling dizzy, then… she lost consciousness. She was having a terrible reaction to new medication.

When she opened her eyes again, she was startled to be in a hospital room at SCVMC. She had fallen on the kitchen floor, face first after blacking out. Her lip had split open, she had badly injured her face, and likely had a concussion. The paramedics had taken her to the only hospital in the region with a top-level trauma center to ensure her care.

But what Rose talks about most eagerly is the people who cared for her. “My two doctors were wonderful. They were so nice and I felt so cared for. They provided me outstanding quality of care,” she said. Having never been inside the hospital she was extremely impressed.

Now when Rose recounts her injury story to friends, she makes sure to emphasize the great care she received at SCVMC. “Most people don’t know!” she says.

These days, Rose spends most of her time safely in her home with her husband. But once a week they go take socially-distanced folk dance lessons which they do outdoors. Back on her feet in more ways than one, Rose is proud to be a loyal donor to the VMC Foundation now knowing firsthand the quality of care that all patients receive in the Santa Clara County Health and Hospitals system.

Colorful installation transforms courtyard at SCVMC Women & Children’s Center

Montalvo Arts Center alum Leah Rosenberg debuts color-inspired “Like a Multivitamin” at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center thanks to National Endowment of Arts grant

SAN JOSE – The outdoor courtyard on the 3rd floor of the Women & Children’s Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is a special place.  Situated between Labor & Delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it’s a natural gathering spot for families celebrating the birth of a child. It’s also a space for staff to take a break from their busy day or get some sunshine without leaving the building.

First opened in 1998, its’ glass, concrete and metallic look was beginning to show its age – and did not fit with the building’s new identity as a Women & Children’s Center. Revamping the space was a priority for hospital planners.

Thanks to the work of San Francisco-based artist Leah Rosenberg, in collaboration with SV Creates and the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, a process to beatify the courtyard was initiated in 2018. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, “Like a Multivitamin” was completed in early October. Using vinyl film in 30 colors and short, haiku-based messages, Rosenberg has brought dramatic transformation to the space.

Click here to see the space and meet the artist.

The incorporation of haiku, much like color, offers a sense of a specific moment in time – a special event, a change of season – something that encourages one to pause, take notice, to come to attention. The courtyard, now full of color, provides an opportunity to share a moment or experience of awareness by including colors that produce emotions in us; helping to lift the burden and stresses of the daily experience, whether visiting just once or returning every day

The colors were not picked at random, as the “multivitamin” name suggests.  The various palettes speak to the range of emotions that visitors may experience while there; from celebration to sorrow.  As a multivitamin provides various sources of nourishment, each color can respond to different emotions. The installation is designed such that each moment of the day, each season creates its own dynamic visuals. That combined with the alchemy of light, shadow, color and reflection ensures the space is not only enchanting but also continuously evolving.

“It was important to me that the installation could be experienced from various vantage points,” said Rosenberg. “Walking around it, sitting in its glow, meditating on one, and then another, taking them all in at once; gazing down from above or looking up from below.”

Completion of this installation could not have come at a more opportune time, when hospital staff are under unprecedented pressure and stress due to the physical and psychological demands of serving at the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rosenberg’s color-filled inner courtyard, provides a space of sanctuary; one that fosters mindfulness, rest and resilience for caregivers and patients alike.

The project is the result of a collaboration with SV Creates, the Montalvo Arts Center – where Rosenberg was a participant in their highly regarded artist residency program, and the Valley Medical Center Foundation.

“SV Creates believes in the healing power of the arts and the transformative qualities of color,” said SV Creates CEO Connie Martinez. “Leah’s installation is inspiring and will bring joy and healing to patients, visitors and SCVMC staff for years to come. This installation could not have happened without the collaborative leadership of SCVMC, VMC Foundation and Montalvo Arts Center.  And we are so excited to have been part of it.”

Angela McConnell, Montalvo Arts Center Executive Director said, “We are thrilled to be a part of such a successful and inspiring partnership, and a model for future collaborations, that engages artists to create spaces that ignite curiosity and lift the spirit.”

“I haven’t stopped smiling since I’ve seen the completed project,” said VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder.  “Anything that brings joy and comfort to visitors and staff is important, especially during this time when any visit to a hospital building comes with a bit of extra stress.”

“Like a Multivitamin” is part of a larger effort to transform public and family areas in the Susan B. Wilson Women & Children’s Center into a vibrant and welcoming space for children and families.  In partnership with SV Creates, additional art exhibits and interactive installations are planned as the building undergoes major renovations.

To see video images of the courtyard and an interview with the artist, visit https://youtu.be/SR4tnNJeJx4


For more information visit www.imaginevmc.org.

STEMBoost in action with online workshops

WHY I GIVE – Students of STEMBoost

Before Covid-19, STEMBoost was a locally organized student group who were excited by science, technology, engineering, and math. They organized in-person workshops to spread interest in the STEM fields, hoping to inspire young talent.

When Covid-19 emerged in the community, STEMBoost re-organized their workshops to online platforms (like many of us had to). They continued to raise funds through these workshops but this time, they decided to donate those funds to Covid-19 relief efforts.

One of their co-founders is 17 year-old David Smith. In May, David contacted us and said that STEMBoost had raised $4,000 and they wanted to donate it to the VMC Foundation.

Then in October, David called us again. They raised another $6,000 from summer workshops that registered students from all over — even internationally! They made another gift.

When we talked with David, he put it simply. Covid-19 has been a disruptive event—and for young people, it has been THE event of their lives. They’ve seen the chaos of scrambled school activity, remote learning, and how this has affected student learning. They wanted to throw their efforts behind the fight against this deadly disease.

David says “I am happy we did our part in this global pandemic to support our local hospitals. This effort has been in honor of students in our community who have been highly impacted by the effects of covid disrupting their education. I thank all students who attended our workshops and everyone who helped us raise these funds.”

STEMBoost has shown us how deeply affected all lives are by the pandemic. These students have also shown us the power of young people to care for each other and their community by supporting efforts to fight Covid-19. We’re so thankful for the inspired actions they took. And we know that they will make huge impacts on their community in the years ahead!