Fall | 2020
Stuck in the house due to Covid-19, SMG Pediatric Medical Assistant Fateemah Hameed was anxious to get out and help others. Recalling how she heard her colleagues speak about volunteering with SMG Foundation, Fateemah reached out to Pamela Singer, Director of Community Engagement at the Foundation and was soon out in the community (with full PPE), helping provide free diabetes and hypertension screenings at our partner food pantries as part of our Food, Health, Hope (FHH) program. “The thing that struck me right away,” noted Fateemah, “was the relationship the SMG Foundation staff had with the clients … they knew everyone in the program, asked about their families and how they were doing - they treated them just as I would treat a patient at SMG.” Fateemah initially used the special PTO day Summit Medical Group provides to each employee to come volunteer, but after seeing all she could contribute she was hooked and now comes back on her own time. “My mom is diabetic so I know how important it is to help people make good health choices and eat well. Hearing the clients say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ – it just made me want to come back and do more!” And we can't say thank you enough either - to Fateemah and to all of the Summit Medical Group volunteers who make our programs possible.
Ankitha Radakrishnan! Ankitha had just finished her Medicine rotation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine when COVID-19 struck, and seemingly overnight her studies went completely online. Looking for ways to help when there were so many in need, Ankitha began volunteering with the medical school’s COVID-19 monitoring line, checking in with patients to help them manage their symptoms and understand how to prevent the spread of the disease. It quickly became apparent that while many people were helped by having phone access to a health professional, often those with the greatest needs, particularly those requiring translators, were receiving the least meaningful help. Witnessing first-hand this disparity in access to healthcare during a crisis is what inspired Ankitha to expand her studies to include an MBA with the Kellogg School of Management. Armed with her MD/MBA, she is looking forward to using technology to help address many of the inequities inherent in our current medical system. And that is why she was a natural choice for the first annual Dr. Marcia A. Sherman Memorial Scholarship, which she received from Summit Medical Group Foundation in July. Established with a generous donation from John O’Neil, in loving memory of his wife, former Summit Medical Group physician Dr. Marcia A. Sherman, the award honors a female medical student of color who embodies Dr. Sherman’s determination to overcome the obstacles that many newcomers face, as well as her belief that the care doctors provide should meet the needs of all members of the community. “I love medicine because it ties together the abstract and the real, the science and the human. Regardless of the major advances the medicine will surely make, one thing will always be present in medicine: compassion.” Upon reading this passage in Ankitha’s application, John knew Ankitha embodied what Marcia so treasured about her chosen profession – the way it engages both the mind and the heart. 
COVID-19 can’t stop SMG Foundation’s Comfort Project from helping to ease the stress and anxiety of patients fighting cancer and their families. The beloved Music in the Atrium at the Park program, established with a generous grant from the Jeffrey Frank Wacks Memorial Fund, now features Bob Egan playing tunes and taking requests on Facebook each Thursday at 11 am … almost 80 people tune in, including patients receiving chemotherapy at the Florham Park and Berkley Heights SMG Cancer Centers. Weekly regulars banter in the comments, with many requests made and played each week. And music is not the only healing art the Foundation has brought virtual. Thanks to the dedication, time and talent of Tara-Lyn and Amy at Tara Lyn Pilates, Anita’s Attitude Adjustment's calming Yoga and Meditation, and Debbie Burnet’s Jin Shin Jyutsu instruction, the SMG Foundation Comfort Project now offers some form of online comfort almost every day of the week! For more information and to register email Monica Cotton, mcotton@smg-foundation.org.
You’ve seen the headlines … 40% of people who have died with Covid-19 had diabetes (CDC), Covid-19 is killing diabetes patients at alarming rates (Reuters), Diabetes highlights two Americas: one where Covid is easily beaten, the other where it is often devastating (USA Today). Keeping diabetes under control is one of the best defenses against Covid-19. But for the hundreds of low-income adults we work with at northern New Jersey food pantries, that can be an overwhelming challenge. Many didn't have insurance before the pandemic, and now with more and more layoffs, even fewer do. Staying home is often not an option because they are essential workers, working in healthcare, keeping our grocery stores open and our deliveries on time. Many live in multi-generational homes, so even if older people can stay home, they can be infected by a younger relative who needs to work.

Our mobile medical unit, staff and volunteers have been out (in full PPE!) at our partner food pantries continuing to screen for pre-diabetes and diabetes, as well as hypertension and obesity. We are currently enrolling for Food, Health, Hope 3.0 - a year-long program where participants receive quarterly health screenings and evidence-based diabetes, nutrition and lifestyle education. They also work one-on-one with our staff and SMG volunteers to set individual health goals. Our food bank partner, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, provides participants with supplements of diabetes appropriate foods in addition to their normal pantry distribution. Helping our clients manage their chronic disease is more important than ever to help them avoid complications and death if they do contract Covid-19. Preliminary results are in from Year 2 of the program and 84% of participants improved in one or more measured health indicator values (HbA1c, blood pressure, BMI), and 95% reported making positive behavior changes as a result of the program.

But the surest signs of success are those we hear directly from our clients:

"... you have an excellent program. I appreciate that under Covid-19 you kept in contact ... you guys showed professionalism when explaining results ... I personally appreciate that you have someone to explain it in our own language because even at some doctor's office they don't take their time and talk to us like you do..."

"... I don't have insurance and have never been to the doctor in this country and if I had not joined this program I would have never found out that I was pre-diabetic and probably by now I would have diabetes. Thankfully I found out on time and was able to change my habits." 
"The program helped me a lot. I did not have insurance before but thanks to the screening I was able to know that I had diabetes and I learned how to take better care of myself. Thankfully now I have insurance and I am under care of my provider for diabetes. Thanks for worrying about me. "
Food, Health, Hope is made possible by our dedicated and committed community partners, including The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Coverys Community Healthcare Foundation, AMA Foundation and BD.
Tree Dedication and Garden Stroll
Dr. Marcia A. Sherman
Saturday, October 10th
Please join friends & family
of Dr. Marcia A. Sherman
for a Tree Dedication Ceremony and Garden Stroll

Saturday, October 10th at 11 am
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum
324 Forest Dr. S., Short Hills, NJ

Raising funds for the annual
Dr. Marcia A. Sherman Memorial Scholarship

For more information, visit www.smg-foundation.org. Click here to learn more about Summit Medical Group.