Elaine Connor, patient advocate at Candler Hospital, on Thursday was named winner of the 24th annual James R. Lientz Humanitarian Award at St. Joseph’s/Candler.
The award, presented since 1993, is named for Lientz, who served as a trustee of Candler Hospital for more than 30 years and chairman for seven. He was CEO of Union Camp’s Savannah operation. He died in 2000 at age 87.
It recognizes system employees for their efforts to capture the Lientz spirit of humanitarian service to others.
Connor, who has worked for the health system for 30 years, was recognized not only for her work with patients, but also for the care and help she gives her fellow co-workers.
As patient advocate, she is routinely called in to talk with families in difficult and high-stress circumstances.
“Oh, you got me,” Connor said when her name was called by St. Joseph’s/Candler President and CEO Paul P. Hinchey. “I am deeply honored and endlessly humbled.”
Calling her co-workers family, Connor said, “You got me through some dark days. … But I hope I made a difference in your lives.”
She recognized her family members seated in the front row, then told the gathering, “I’m giving back because so much was given to us,” adding that, “I am going to spend a little time with my husband just to breathe.”
Part of the reward for the Lientz was a $3,000 check that Connor donated to “just a little sign” in front of both hospitals to say “Thank you, I appreciate you” to team members, and donations each to St. Vincent Academy and Savannah Country Day School, where her two daughters, Kelly and Kelsy, were educated and for a fund for the care of veterans.
Before calling Connor’s name, Hinchey said the usual 55 nominees for the award grew to 99 nominations this year. In winning the award, Connor received 12 nominations, the most in the history of the award.
A health system committee selects the recipient based on the candidate’s exemplification of the health system’s mission and values. The mission is “rooted in God’s love, we treat illness and promote wellness of all people.” The values include compassion, quality, integrity, coutresy, accountability and teamwork.
“Elaine deals with patients and their families at their absolute lowest time in thier lives,” said one co-worker who nominated her. “She makes them feel validated and heard.”
“It’s a big deal,’ Hinchey said before naming the winner. “This is an impact player and she’s been dong it for 30 years.”