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Sana and Andy Brooks: Leading in Philanthropy and as Volunteers

May 25, 2020
One of the most common barriers hospital foundations confront in engaging potential donors is a perception of need. At times, organizations relied on the most by individuals are overlooked when it comes to community support.

It is a barrier GBMC's Promise Project volunteers, Sana and Andy Brooks, are seeing in their engagement efforts, but one they see as potentially being mollified by the current global pandemic.

"With the current crisis, we have realized things we really need, are often taken for granted. Such necessities require an enormous amount of investment. And it's expensive to be excellent," Andy said. "But if you want excellence in healthcare, public health and resources, you've got to invest in it. One of the things this campaign brings to light is that, for GBMC to be excellent and for people to expect there to be excellence at GBMC when they need it, we've got to make some investments."

And the Brookses felt that started with them.

Earlier this year, the couple made a significant pledge to the Promise Project, GBMC's current campaign to optimize our facilities to match the outstanding care already going on inside the hospital.

"The project is completely geared toward the patient experience," Sana said. "It's not so much about research or specific healthcare issues. It's more about the patient care experience, which I think is a worthy goal."

"We have enormous respect for our friend, Dr. Chessare, and the whole team at GBMC," Andy added. "The need to update that patient experience is so clearly evident that we thought – in light of the good work that's being done, the broad reach and impact GBMC is having on the community – it was sort of a no-brainer to demonstrate our support."

Sana and Andy both have a long history with GBMC that started long before they met. Sana was born at GBMC and volunteered as a candy striper in her youth, while Andy remembers spending some of his high school allowance at the Nearly New Sale.

Both of their children were born at GBMC, which sparked interest in serving in more leadership-level roles. Sana served as the inaugural chair of the Parents Advisory Council, a group of community leaders and parents who collectively give back to GBMC pediatric programs. The group has continued to support GBMC for more than a decade. The PAC introduced them to the different units of care and specialty departments within GBMC.

Later on, Sana and Andy became more deeply invested in the work GBMC was doing, especially in the area of Lean Daily Management and patient quality and safety – making philanthropic investments in the work, but also reaching out to their community connections to expand awareness. These actions led to their leadership roles with the Promise Project.

The transparency, accessibility and accountability, through LDM, are important to Sana and Andy, qualities they feel GBMC exhibits throughout its network, starting at the top.

"John [Chessare], as a leader, has made it clear GBMC is accessible for everybody," Andy said. "The doctors, the staff, the people there, the facility – is accessible by all. And that's a very comforting commitment that GBMC and its management, the board and everybody has made."

It's a commitment they feel the Promise Project moves forward.

"We're not doing anything extravagant with the Promise Project," Sana said.

"This is have-to-have, versus nice-to-have," Andy added. "This is an effort to make sure patients get the quality care they deserve."

"As well as their family," Sana said. "You need a network of people for your care and this allows for the room and the dynamics to include medical staff and family that make up your support team."

These and other sentiments are ones the couple is sharing with their networks to garner even greater support for the Promise Project. Because, for them, community is an important word.

“We have all been taught, it's more blessed to give than to receive and so there's a great joy that comes from not only giving but having others give with you. Bringing others along can be a very meaningful experience," Andy said.

"Telling people how GBMC has been there for us and seeing the priority GBMC has placed on patient safety and system-wide accountability make it an easy sell." Sana added.

GBMC is grateful to have such wonderful advocates for the Promise Project and the institution as a whole; leaders who understand the importance of an independent hospital's presence in the community, and philanthropy as a resource to maintain excellence in patient care.

"We want to support an independent hospital, a hospital for the community," Sana said. "It goes back to taking care of patients as you want to be taken care of. For me as a caregiver, if I have a family member or myself, I think being an independent, small, community-centered hospital, it’s just going to be more focused and accountable."

That focus – on patients and the patient care experience – is what is keeping GBMC going during this unprecedented crisis. Because of the community's support and thoughts, employees are maintaining excellence in work and compassionate care.

And with Sana and Andy's help, the community will see that investment in GBMC helps it stay that way for years to come.
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