2019 Parents Fund Internship Grant Reflections: Adriana Allen

Adriana Allen
Adriana Allen

Internship Location: Riverside Foundation

Journal Entry #1:

Hello, I am Adriana, a fourth-year Spanish and Linguistics double major! I recently finished week one of my second summer at my internship at the Riverside Foundation. The Foundation is a part of the Riverside Health System (RHS), which is located in my hometown, Newport News, VA. Riverside is a local health system based in Newport News, which serves the Greater Peninsula-Williamsburg and Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck areas of eastern Virginia. RHS offers four acute care hospitals, specialized care centers including the Riverside Medical Group, long-term care facilities, retirement communities, and wellness and fitness centers to the areas it supports.

The Foundation is a fairly new department within the health system, having recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, that works to ensure funding for new facilities and special projects are secured for the health system. Many people don’t know that foundations exist, but most health systems have one, even the UVA Health System has a Foundation! The work that the Riverside Foundation does is critical to the growth of RHS and the extraordinary care that our medical staff and physicians are able to provide. One of the major projects that we are diligently working to raise funds for is the Center for Medical Education and Simulation Training, where we are building the Dr. Brandon Rogers Simulation Lab. This lab is named in honor of UVA alum and Riverside medical resident, Dr. Brandon Rogers, who passed away in the summer of 2017. The simulation lab is an opportunity for medical staff to safely practice a number of high-risk procedures and techniques, as well as soft skills like bedside manner.

As my first week comes to an end, I have helped wrap up Team Member Campaign, input data on new donors, sat in on conference calls with donors, and helped create a social media plan for the remainder of the year. Although I had not yet begun my internship during the majority of Team Member Campaign, being able to show gratitude to team members for their financial contributions to the health system is a great feeling. This campaign gives us the opportunity to shine a light on our everyday heroes for the work they do throughout the health system and their constant dedication to the advancement of care provided to patients within our community. The Riverside mission states “To care for others as we would care for those we love – to enhance their well-being and improve their health” and the ways that our team members and community members give back to Riverside shows that level of care. I am excited to take on more projects through the next seven weeks and see the ways that our community and Riverside advance health care in the Hampton Roads area!

Journal Entry #2:

Hi again! I am halfway through my summer internship at the Riverside Foundation, and have worked on some exciting projects. As we gear up for more fundraising efforts throughout the fall and winter of 2019, I have assisted our fundraisers in the outreach and planning of a few events. We’ve continued working on the Dr. Brandon D. Rogers Simulation Lab, distributed 2018 Annual Reports, and reviewed notes from patients who recognized the incredible care their physicians and other medical staff provided throughout the year.

Following my first week, I worked closely with staff at the Foundation to craft letters and other publication materials. My first opportunity was creating a pamphlet and drafting a letter to thank those who donated to the Dr. Brandon D. Rogers Simulation Lab. The pamphlet included photos of the late Dr. Brandon Rogers, and updates about progress on the Simulation Lab. Along with his family, these donors have played a vital role in carrying on Brandon’s legacy.

One of the most challenging, but helpful, experiences I have had so far is working in our records database, Raiser’s Edge NXT. After a couple of training sessions, I spent a bit of time entering donor and gift information into the database, which in the long run will help our records-keeping process tremendously. The database allows you to record basic information, and more detailed aspects like an individual’s past educational institutions, interests, organizational leadership, and personal or professional relationships. With thousands of donors, keeping organized records is extremely important. Not only can we eliminate the possibility of having duplicate files for a single donor, we are also able to create more personal relationships with donors as we learn new details about them.

Over the last week and a half, I worked to distribute over 2000 copies of our 2018 Annual Report to various facilities within Riverside. The Annual Report is an integral part in informing our team members, patients, and supporters of the great work Riverside does. We began the 2018 report by spotlighting the amazing team members who, together, raised over $124,000 in just 30 days for the annual Team Member Campaign last year. We recognized donors whose generosity helped provide scholarships for students heading off to college, those attending the Riverside College of Health Careers, and those continuing their education while working for Riverside. Most importantly, advancements in fetal care, stroke recovery, and dementia therapy at Shore Memorial Hospital, the Riverside Neurological and Spine Institute, and Patriot’s Colony, respectively, were highlighted along with changes at many more facilities.

Recently, I reviewed submissions we received from patients who wished to recognize their caregiver or physician for National Doctor’s Day. Doctor’s Day is a national holiday, typically celebrated on March 30th, which is used to recognize physicians for their hard work and contributions to society. Many patients made donations in honor of their physician or medical staff who provided care to them during their stay at a Riverside Facility. One patient even said “Before saying that you are an EXTRAORDINARY DOCTOR, I want to tell you that you're an EXTRAORDINARY PERSON. Thanks for showing so much care and concern.” This quote is just one of many that shows the true level of care and relationship-building that our physicians and caregivers employ on a regular basis.

Being halfway through my summer at Riverside, I find myself being reminded that we often take on unexpected tasks which lead to great rewards and opportunities for growth. Although I was initially a bit frightened to enter data, and draft a mailing and publication on my own, those experiences have helped me immensely. Each week, I experience new aspects of the various roles at the Foundation, and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.

Journal Entry #3:

I am closing out week 9 at the Riverside Foundation and cannot believe the summer has passed this quickly.

Over the last few weeks, I have worked with our services team to ensure we have the best data and records-keeping process possible. I mentioned data and donor information in my last blog post, but it is extremely important to the work we do. Keeping clear records of our contributors and community partners allows for great relationship building and stewardship. More importantly, good records-keeping helps our accounting team keep clear financial data. (I think I may have fallen in love with data work this summer.)

As the summer winds down, we have begun planning for presentations we will give to departments system-wide and outside community partners. Their hard work, generosity, and gratitude makes so much of what the Foundation does possible. Projects that carious teams within the health system chose have made lasting impacts with the Day of Giving fundraising run by the Foundation. Just last year, we helped some of our locations get VR goggles which help relieve stress for our cancer patients undergoing treatments; translation carts in our emergency departments that speak to patients in real time in over 100 languages; 3D-printed gloves that help stroke patients in their rehabilitation process; updates to meditation rooms for patients who need a quiet space in our hospitals; and activity aprons for Memory Care patients to help with boredom and anxiety during a hospital stay. Sharing the various ways that the Foundation impacts our community will help get even more of our Riverside Team and 5 supported regions engaged.

In my last few days, I have analyzed community needs assessments to get a further understanding of the variation of need in our 5 regions – Eastern Shore, Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck, Peninsula, and Williamsburg. Each region has a different population, slightly different “personality,” and different healthcare priorities. As a community health system, it is our duty to assess those needs and ensure we are capable of providing remarkable care. 

Reflecting on the entirety of this summer, I have learned a lot of new things – even things I didn’t realize in my previous summer interning with the Foundation. My experiences over both summers have reaffirmed that working in the healthcare industry in such an important task, and it has brought me joy every day to work so closely to it all. We think of what the Foundation does at Riverside as filling in the gap – what do patients need that insurance does not cover or that we do not already provide? How can we [the Foundation] help fill in that gap? Many times that means purchasing equipment like the VR goggles, 3D-printed gloves, and translation carts, other times it requires investing in the training of our staff and care-givers. Whatever the need, we put forth our best effort to ensure it is met and that Riverside continues to be remarkable.