Health Day Class of 2022

by Clay Gillman ‘22

Our 2021 Leadership Pinellas Health Day journey began in St. Petersburg at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. After the pandemic thwarted the health care community’s ability to host tour groups for 18 months, our group was fortunate enough to be welcomed into All Children’s Hospital with open arms and masked faces.

Dr. Allison Messina, a nationally-renowned expert in the field of Pediatric Infectious Disease, kicked things off with a look back at the past twenty months and how significantly coronavirus has affected the hospital and its operations. We were then introduced to the newly-selected CEO of All Children’s, Alicia Schulhof. She gave us the opportunity to ask meaningful questions about her vision of the hospital’s future impact on the Pinellas County community. A tour of the beautiful, state-of-the-art facility followed, then we were sent off to our next stop—the Ronald McDonald West House just around the corner.

Of our nearly 20 class members who participated in Health Day, only a handful had ever been to a Ronald McDonald House. After a walk through the House and quick Q&A session, we were tasked with preparing meals for the families currently staying in the St. Petersburg Ronald McDonald Houses. With nearly 60 meals to prepare, we split into 2 groups and got to work making enchiladas. It may have just been the countless onions we diced in the kitchen, but as we climbed aboard the bus to head back to Clearwater, many of us were teary-eyed knowing we made the stay a little bit easier for the families.

Lou Galdieri, President of Morton Plant Hospital, greeted us at our next stop at—you guessed it—Clearwater’s Morton Plant Hospital. As we ate lunch, Mr. Galdieri gave us a presentation on the history of Morton Plant and how that history led to the hospital’s current prominent status in Pinellas County. After lunch, we broke into small groups for tours of several of the specialty surgical areas within the hospital, guided by some of Morton Plant’s finest surgeons and surgical staff. Not only were we able to walk through the surgical area and see several surgeries first-hand, but we were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the highly-advanced technology that goes into many of the surgeries performed at the hospital.

We concluded our Health Day trip at the Clearwater Free Clinic, a hidden gem of the Clearwater community. Our group was met at the door of the Clearwater Free Clinic by CEO Jeannie Shapiro, and Director of Marketing and Development, Meredith Reagin. Although it’s in the name, it came as a surprise to us all that the Clearwater Free Clinic is actually a FREE service to uninsured Pinellas County residents. After a guided tour of the facility, we heard first-hand from a patient of the clinic and one of the excellent cardiologists who donates his time to the clinic. The services that the staff and volunteers are providing at the Clearwater Free Clinic are often unrecognized, but they are invaluable to our community.

A special thank you to Erin Hamilton-Mullin (Class of 2021), Joe Citro (Class of 2021), and Amber Geier (Class of 2020) for their help in putting together such a great day for our class!