The Heart of BIDMC
BIDMC Provides 90,000 Meals Through 'Food is Medicine' Event
When Allen Hamdan, MD, Clinical Director of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was speaking with Elliot Chaikof, MD, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, about the annual department holiday party, they didn’t discuss eggnog, latkes or Yankee swaps. They had a different idea.
“Instead of throwing a costly holiday party that many would not remember, why not do something for charity instead?” Dr. Hamdan says of what they had in mind.
That conversation ended up spurring the creation of the Department of Surgery’s Committee for Social Responsibility and ultimately led to BIDMC’s inaugural "Food is Medicine" event, which raised $30,000 — the equivalent of about 90,000 meals — on September 19 for the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB).
For the past couple of years, Dr. Hamdan had been thinking about how he could help with the country’s hunger issue. It’s a matter close to his heart. When he thinks about the patients that he sees every day, he knows that good health doesn’t come without good nutrition. And when he thinks about his two daughters, he can’t stand the thought of them, or other children for that matter, growing up hungry.
So, he organized a meeting of the Committee, which includes BIDMC nurses, residents and administrative staff.
Dr. Hamdan knew that he wanted to do something charitable in nature regarding hunger and food insecurity, but he didn’t want to push his ideas on anyone. He wanted the Committee’s decision to be a democratic one.
“We talked about what people in the group wanted to do,” Dr. Hamdan says, “and right at the top of the list was the food insecurity issue. One thing I learned was to not try to force my own interests, but let people contribute their own ideas. And from that, so much synergy developed within the Committee.”
Dr. Hamdan, Dr. Chaikof and the Committee were thrilled with the outcome — 115 guests and, as part of the $30,000 raised overall, $4,500 was from that evening’s silent auction and on-site donations.
The silent auction included restaurant gift certificates, Red Sox tickets, an autographed picture of Patriots player Rob Gronkowski, golf outings, and framed photographs of New England landscapes. The guests were also treated to tours of the Greater Boston Food Bank, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO of the GBFB, addressed the guests about the importance of the event.
“Food truly is medicine,” she said, “and this event highlights the important role that food has in people’s health and well-being every day.”
Kaitlyn Dmyterko, a member of the Committee, has been involved with various charitable events, including Food is Medicine. She credits Dr. Hamdan for such a successful turnout.
“Dr. Hamdan was dedicated and committed to helping the Greater Boston Food Bank and those in need,” says Dmyterko. “The event and his general enthusiasm inspired the rest of us to be that way as well.”
Dr. Hamdan and the Committee’s work have only just begun. He hopes that the event will grow next year and has plans to invite other hospitals in Massachusetts to participate.
“We might be considered competitors in the field of healthcare,” Dr. Hamdan says of neighboring academic medical centers. “But when it comes to ending hunger, we can all be in it together.”
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Posted November 2013