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Philanthropy In Action

Donor Support Provides Compassionate Care

Ana and John Clark

Photo: Ana Steele Clark, with her husband John.

"The staff in Dr. Magnant's office could not have been more helpful, efficient, patient, and warm."
Ana Steele Clark, grateful patient

Ana Steele Clark discovered the lump in her breast unexpectedly, but she was fortunate to find a team that was ready to move swiftly to provide treatment and get her back to health. "I believe the speed saved me from God knows what kind of outcome," she says.

Ana had been having heartbeat irregularities for about a year, so her cardiologist, Dr. Edward Bodurian, had her wear a heart monitor for 30 days. One day, she was removing the wiring to take a shower when she discovered a lump in her breast. She immediately contacted her gynecologist, Dr. Susan Hurson. "She examined me, looked me in the eye, and said 'We need a surgeon'." She then called the office of Dr. Colette Magnant, Director of Sibley's Sullivan Breast Cancer Center.

Dr. Magnant examined Ana and ordered a same-day biopsy, which revealed a small but highly aggressive cancer. Two weeks later, Dr. Magnant removed the cancer—less than a month after Ana had discovered the lump. After surgery, Ana received radiation treatment at Sibley under the watchful eye of Dr. Jean Wright, Director of the Breast Cancer Program, Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences at Johns Hopkins.

One day, about half way through her radiation treatments, Ana suddenly felt overwhelmed with panic. "I had been feeling fine," she says. "I had no idea where it suddenly came from." She went to her appointment and didn't say anything about how she was feeling. As she was being prepped for treatment, one of the technicians working with her that day asked about the music routinely playing in the treatment room and asked Ana if she would like something else, saying, "Do you like opera?"

Ana was stunned. She had worked at the National Endowment for the Arts for 33 years, and served as Acting Chair of the Endowment in the early 1990s, but she had never mentioned her work nor her love of classical music to anyone during her treatments. Ana said yes and the technicians stepped into the other room and started the music—Andrea Bocelli singing Schubert's "Ave Maria."

"All of my terrible worry and terror just went away. I was suddenly in another place—calm and peaceful." Ana says that to this day, she wonders how the technician could have guessed that she loved that music, or the effect that it would have on her. She calls it a "lovely mystery."

Ana, now cancer-free, continues to follow up with hormone therapy and regular check-ups with Dr. Patricia Rizzo, a medical oncologist affiliated with Sibley. Of the team that swung into action to treat her that spring she says "The care and support of the team—the receptionists, technicians, and nurses, as well as the amazing Dr. Magnant herself and my other wonderful doctors—all worked to keep me from being upset, overwrought, and frightened. Such a lovely group of skilled and caring women!"

Care for Cancer Survivors

Kay Cartwright and, fellow cancer survivor, Judy

Photo: Kay Cartwright and fellow cancer survivor Judy Evans

Learn more about the class.

"Yoga saved my mental health," says Kay Cartwright. She had always thought of yoga as something that was a bit alternative, but when she read about Sibley’s weekly Yoga for Cancer Survivors class in the Sibley Senior Association newsletter she decided to give it a try. There, she met Judy Evans, a fellow cancer survivor who had recently moved to Washington and was looking for a community that she could be part of. After meeting in class they discovered they lived only blocks away from each other, and quickly became friends. They are part of a close-knit group of patients and survivors who come to class at Sibley each week.

Since 2014, Sibley has offered free yoga and meditation classes for cancer patients, survivors, and family members, thanks to generous support from the Weist Fund. The classes are one of the ways we help people address the challenges of cancer treatment and survivorship. “It really creates community for people during an anxious time in their lives,” says Pam Goetz, Sibley’s Survivorship Navigator.

Cancer survivors may be dealing with the trauma of a diagnosis and the side effects of treatment. They may feel betrayed by or disconnected from their bodies. Yoga becomes a way for people to trust their body again and learn how to safely exercise after treatment. Meditation can help with anxiety and manage stress. “These classes help people put their lives back together after cancer derails them,” says Pam.

Both women love that the class is gentle, with an emphasis on relaxation and breathing, and the appreciate the knowledge of Erica, the yoga instructor, who has specialized training in yoga for cancer survivors. They also love the camaraderie of the group. Or, as Judy describes it, "It's more than just a support group—we are a class of warriors!”

Exercise Classes for People with Parkinson’s

Maegan Olivos, P.T., D.P.T., leads an exercise class

Photo: Maegan Olivos, P.T., D.P.T., leads an exercise class for patients with Parkinson's Disease.

“This disease can really disable you. You don’t know from one day to the next if you’re going to have a good day or a bad day,” says Bill, who is living with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes people to lose their ability to regulate their movements, body, and emotions. For people living with it, exercise is a key component to maintaining balance, mobility, and quality of life, and may help slow progression of the disease.

That’s why Bill takes Sibley’s Exercise for People with Parkinson’s class. The free community class is hosted in partnership with IONA Senior Services and is held twice per week at IONA’s facility in northwest DC. Maegan Olivos, DPT, MPH, a physical therapist at Sibley Memorial Hospital who is trained in Parkinson’s disease intervention and neuromuscular rehabilitation, leads the class.

“This program is helping to keep Bill functioning and independent,” says his wife, Heidi. “It helps with mobility, balance, and confidence.”

In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, the class helps with the emotional toll that Parkinson’s can take. “It’s important to understand that depression is a symptom in Parkinson’s Disease. The same pathways that create dopamine in the brain–which are impacted in Parkinson's disease–also create the neurotransmitter serotonin which regulates mood.” says Maegan. “People aren’t just depressed because they know they have a disease and they see themselves declining. The disease itself causes the depression. Movement can help address that.”

“I’ve never heard Bill come out of class discouraged and not wanting to go back,” says Heidi. “I really think this program is a lifesaver. We’re really grateful that it exists and that Bill can participate.”

Sibley’s Exercise for People with Parkinson’s class is made possible through a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation. To learn more about supporting the Sibley Foundation, please contact Carol Shannon at or 202-537-4257. 

Improving Care for Sibley's Older Patients

Sibley Volunteer, Margaret, and Geriatrics Nurse Navigator, Matt Brown

Photo: Sibley Volunteer, Margaret, and Geriatrics Nurse Navigator, Matt Brown

Matt’s position was funded for 3 years by the Foundation.

“Thanks to the Sibley Foundation, the NICHE program has been able to expand its program, to include not only geriatric education for the nursing and ancillary staff, but also to include a Geriatric Nurse Navigator to help with safe senior patient transitions after they leave the hospital. Patients have expressed that receiving a phone call at home after discharge, from the navigator, has put them at ease knowing that there is a connection back at the hospital if they need it.”

—Suzanne Dutton, N.P.
Geriatrics Coordinator

Advanced Stroke Life Support

Sibley Stroke Program

Photo: Sibley Stroke Team at the ASLS training at the Miller School of Medicine University, Miami

An anonymous donor gave $1 million to fund the Stroke Program.

"May 4th and 5th nine Sibley nurses attended the ASLS (Advanced Stroke Life Support) training at the Miller School of Medicine University Miami. The training course fees, accommodation and traveling costs were very generously provided through philanthropy. The staff that attended are responsible for coming back and training the Sibley staff on ASLS."

—Jennifer Knittig
Stroke Coordinator

Sibley Stroke Support Group

Stroke Class

Photo: Jennifer Knittig, Stroke Coordinator, with Stroke Support Group members

An anonymous donor gave $1 million to fund the Stroke Program.

"Every 3rd Wednesday of the month the Sibley Stroke Support Group meets. Over a light lunch, the stroke survivors and caregivers participate in sessions with speakers and stroke program staff."

— Jennifer Knittig
Stroke Coordinator

Cancer Support Group

Cancer Support Group

Photo: Liz Tamasi, Oncology Social Worker, Emily Sower, N.P., Palliative Care and patients

A grateful patient with advanced breast cancer donated $2,000 to launch this support group.

"Through generous support we have been able to start a support group for individuals with advanced cancer. Meeting every other week, the group allows for an openness and understanding amongst metastatic patients that other cancer support groups may not provide. Patients regularly voice how incredibly helpful and meaningful the group is to this unique patient population."

— Liz Tamasi
Oncology Social Worker

Emergency Department 


Photo: Sibley nurses working on a Pyxis machine

The Pyxis machine was funded by a gift from grateful patients.

"Thanks to donor support, the Emergency Department got a Pyxis machine. Pyxis is a medication dispensing machine that allows the nurse to stay in the room when critical medications are needed that are not on the crash cart. Keeping the team together is important with patients in distress. Among others, the machine houses medications to stop a seizure and to paralyze someone for intubation."

— Jennifer Abele, M.D.
Chair, Emergency Department

Bio Bank


Photo: Jim Powers, M.D.

Dr. Lin received a $1 million gift from a grateful patient in support of his research and program development.

"In memory of Dr. Jim Powers, we launched a research project called the ‘Bio Bank’ in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University. Our Sibley specific program would include acquisition of tumor and serum specimens from women with adnexal or uterine cancer and register and store them at Sibley."

—Jeffrey Lin, M.D.
Director, Gynecologic Oncology and Gynecologic Surgery

Silberman Family Special Care Nursery

Special Care Nursery

Photo: Silberman Family Special Care Nursery nurses

This training is funded through our Young Professionals Board.

"Due to your generous philanthropic support, there are currently 17 certified RNs in Special Care Nursery (almost 60% of Special Care Nursery nurses)."

—Pauline Solomita
Nurse Manager, Special Care Nursery

Simulation Training

Emergency Department Simulation

Photo: An emergency department simulation

A grateful patient gave $125,000 to fund simulation trainings for 5 years.

"Thanks to many donors, we have had around 18 simulation days and run two scenarios per day. All of the ED physicians and 40 nurses have participated. Our goal is to continue these incredibly valuable trainings as we move into the new Emergency Department."

— Jennifer Abele, M.D.
Chair, Emergency Department

Club Memory

Club Memory

Photo: Club Memory group members

Club Memory received support from the Foundation.

"Philanthropy has made it possible to provide low to no cost stigma-free social engagement and community for persons with early stage Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia (ADRD). An additional infusion of philanthropy in 2012-2013 made it possible for Club Memory to grow from 10-15 members to regularly supporting over 90 individuals in our Ward 3 program. In addition, philanthropy made it possible to extend the program into Wards 7 and 8, with an expectation to expand into Wards 1, 4, 5 and 6 before July 2016."

—Marti Bailey, B.S., C.S.A.
Director, Sibley Senior Association & Community Health

Patient Empathy Project

Colleen Sweeney

Photo: Colleen Sweeney, creator of the Patient Empathy Project and the Patient Experience Pyramid, presenting to the staff and leadership

Funded by the Foundation.

"On June 15, 2015, Colleen Sweeney, creator of the Patient Empathy Project and the Patient  Experience Pyramid, presented to the staff and leadership. The feedback from these sessions was overwhelmingly positive — everyone we heard from has had such positive remarks to share from both the Keynote and the leadership workshops. Colleen’s energy, enthusiasm and, most importantly, her passion for improving the patient experience through recognition of their fears and concerns will surely have a lasting impact on the care we deliver. Thank you to the Foundation for creating the opportunity for us to meet and learn from this nationally recognized presenter and author."

—Joanne Miller
Chief Nursing Officer

Special Care Nursery Baby

Photo: Nurse caring for baby in the Special Care Nursery

‘Wink' is funded through our Young Professionals Board.

"Thanks to the Foundation, we have been able to launch ‘Wink’ for parents that have babies in the Special Care Nursery. This secure video conferencing ability provides precious bonding for moms and dads with their babies."

— Pauline Solomita
Nurse Manager, Special Care Nursery




Photo: Tara Rowden, R.N. recieving the DAISY Award

"The Department of Nursing extends their sincere gratitude to the Sibley Foundation for generously supporting The DAISY Award for our extraordinary nurses. In 1999, the family of J. Patrick Barnes created this award to honor their son and the nurses who cared for him during the last weeks of his life. Through our amazing Foundation, Sibley has been able to recognize seven outstanding caring and compassionate nurses. The award is presented to the nurse on the unit where they provide care for patients, always in front of their peers and leaders and often times in front of the patient or family member who nominated them. We are able to recognize the nurse and also their team that provides a healthy work environment so our nurses can practice as the caring scientists that makes Sibley proud. "

—Joanne Miller
Chief Nursing Officer