Date: 6/5/2012

Employee receives Lifesaving Partner Award from Gift of Hope

On hand at the Lifesaving Partners Awards presentation April 24 are (left to right) Alice C. Jenkins, donation coordinator, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network; Cheryl Perry, RN, Clinical Education, Community Hospital; Jana Lacera, RN, BSN, MSA, Director, IRB/Bio-Ethics; Inga Henry of St. John (Jana’s mother); Elizabeth Yee, Vice President of Clinical Ancillary Services, Community Healthcare System; Connie Jusko, administrative assistant IRB/Bio-Ethics, Community Hospital and Jennifer Ewing, RN, Patient Care Services, Community Hospital.

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Network has presented Jana Lacera, a 37-year employee of Community Hospital in Munster, with the Lifesaving Partner Award. The distinction serves to recognize Lacera’s outstanding achievement in supporting life-giving organ and tissue donation.

The Lifesaving Partners Awards were presented at a special recognition ceremony on April 24. Lacera was among 15 individuals, hospitals and health systems recognized for their commitment to donation during the last year.

“Over the past 25 years, Jana has devoted immeasurable time and energy to promote donation at Community Healthcare System’s three hospitals and to honor the people who have given hope and life to others through donation,” said Gift of Hope President/CEO Jerry Anderson.

Two of the public programs held at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System initiated by Lacera include the Fly the Flag program and the annual Rose Dedication Ceremony.

In observance of National Donate Life Month each April, the “Donate Life” flag is flown every day at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System. The national initiative honors and celebrates donors and recipients whose lives have been affected by organ, eye and tissue donation. During the other 11 months of the year, Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart raise the Donate Life flag for 48 hours following each donation as a silent salute and also send a garden-size version of the flag to family members as a keepsake and to honor their final act of love and generosity.

An annual Rose Ceremony also is held in November to honor the area’s organ and tissue donors. Roses that will make up the Donate Life float as part of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. are dedicated and carry tags with messages of love in their vials from donor families.

“Today, thanks to Jana’s dedication, hard work and guidance, there is a greater level of awareness in our communities about the importance of organ and tissue donations,” said John Gorski, Chief Operating Officer of Community Healthcare System.

Lacera began her work at Community Hospital as a nurse in July, 1975. By 1987 she was nurse manager of the intensive care/critical care unit. She currently serves as Community Hospital’s Institutional Review Board director (ensuring patient safety in clinical trials) and as liaison to the hospitals’ Bio-Ethics Committees. As liaison, her job responsibilities extend regionally promoting Community Healthcare System’s standard of care and supporting patient advocacy across the three hospitals.

Working closely with hospital administration and Gift of Hope, she has succeeded in placing Community Healthcare System hospitals among the top medical facilities in the Chicagoland region for tissue donations.

“I have always believed in organ and tissue donation and my interest in patients’ rights and advocacy has grown to a deep dedication toward patients and their families,” Lacera said. “I am honored to receive this award, and share it with everyone at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System who have been so instrumental in allowing the Gift of Hope to carry on their important mission of saving lives.”