Date: 9/24/2010

Donate Life America presents Community Healthcare System with Award of Merit for Fly the Flag Program

On hand for the award presentation are (left to right) Cheryl Perry, RN, Educator; Alice Jenkins, Hospital Coordinator, Gift of Hope; Gretchen Repay, RN, Assistant Nurse Manager, CVU; Jana Lacera, RN, Director IRB/Bio-Ethics; Michael Henderson, Hospital Coordinator, Indiana Lions Tissue and Eye Bank; Valerie MacCartney, Assistant Nurse Manager, ED; Connie Jusko, Operational Assistant, IRB/Bio-Ethics; Patty Morse, RN, Nurse Manager, ICU; Carol Penman, Community Member and David Helms, Pharmacist.

The hospitals of Community Healthcare System have been honored for efforts to raise awareness regarding organ, eye and tissue donations. Donate Life America has presented Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart with the 2010 Award of Merit for activities and events relating to the Flags Across America program.

“The Donate Life America award review committee, based in Richmond, Virginia, received more than 30 nominations from around the country,” said John R. Dean, member services manager for Donate Life America. “All of the activities, practices and events nominated were excellent examples of how the Donate Life flag program can have such a profound impact on the lives of many.”

Of the six awards presented, Community Healthcare System was the only hospital system recognized for the creative use of the flag program to acknowledge and honor the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation.

At Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center, the “Donate Life” flag is flown in honor of a donor for 48 hours as a silent salute. Each donor family receives a card with a garden-sized version of the flag as a keepsake and to honor the generous gift provided by their loved one. The system-wide gesture was coordinated by Jana Lacera, who serves as Community Hospital’s Institutional Review Board director (ensuring patient safety in clinical trials) and as regional liaison to the hospitals’ Bio-Ethics Committees. Hospital liaisons from St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center at the time the program was first introduced are Susan Eastwood, R.N., House Supervisor, Patient Care Services, and Beth Navarro, R.N., ICU/IMCU, respectively.

“Our Fly the Flag program honors donors for their precious gifts and serves as closure to grieving families,” Lacera said. “One employee said that she received her card and flag on a ‘really bad day’ and it made her remember that her daughter-in-law had an impact on the lives of others.”

The important thing to remember is to share your decision to be a donor with your family, said Lacera.

During the month of April — National Donate Life month - the hospitals of Community Healthcare System also join in the national initiative to honor and celebrate donors and recipients. The “Donate Life” flag is flown every day at the three hospitals and donor registration drives are held.

Under Indiana’s Donor Choice Law, individuals 18 and older may declare their intention to donate, and family members are not able to override that intention at the time of death. Individuals under age 18 may declare their donation intentions with the permission of a parent or legal guardian, who must also provide consent for donation at the time of a minor’s death.

Year round through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana residents can register their intent to be organ and tissue donors while obtaining or renewing their drivers’ license.

Registration also is accepted at