News & Stories


Cooper CARES Improves Experience for Patients and Employees

Tina Cressman, Assistant Director of Health Information Management, Lynne Duffy, RN, and Margie Outler, Director of Business Development.

Tina Cressman, Assistant Director of Health Information Management, Lynne Duffy, RN, and Margie Outler, Director of Business Development.

Tina Cressman, Assistant Director of Health Information Management, remembers how her maternal grandmother, Carrie Gilmer, would always reiterate the importance of giving. That philosophy inspired Tina 20 years ago to make a significant gift in order to establish Cooper CARES, an employee-sponsored grant program.

Cooper CARES, facilitated by The Cooper Foundation, is designed to provide funding to support employee initiatives that will improve Cooper University Health Care for employees, patients and visitors. This year, Cooper CARES will be featured as a designated program of the Annual Employee Appeal. Funds for the program come from charitable contributions made by Cooper employees and other members of the community.

Tina said that the program utilizes Cooper’s philosophy of understanding and improving the importance of the patient and family healthcare experience.

“Cooper CARES exemplifies the organization’s motto, One Team, One Purpose,” she explained.

Since its inception, grants have advanced the quality of patient and family-centered care provided by Cooper, enhancing the atmosphere and working conditions of Cooper employees, volunteers and visitors.

Lynne Duffy, RN, who will retire from Cooper this fall, is stepping down as chair.

“It’s been my privilege to chair the Cooper CARES Grants Committee and watch it grow to help so many people,” Duffy said. “I’m always amazed to see how generous our employees are by donating to Cooper CARES to help one another provide exceptional, holistic care to our patients and to each other.”

Margie Outler, Director of Business Development, will lead the new committee, consisting of Norma Petracci, Facilities Admin Coordinator; Arlene Skelly, Patient Representative; Ann Steffney, Clinical Director, Patient Support Services; and Joe Hutchins, RN, Associate Clinical Director.

“I am thrilled and honored to serve as the new committee chair for Cooper CARES as I feel that this program embodies my experience at Cooper – employees taking care of the comfort needs of patients and each other to provide a world class experience,” Margie said.

The committee has approved funding for comfort care gift boxes, books, DVDs, blanket warmers, an electronic message board for the employee cafeteria, pocket talkers for patients who have difficulty hearing, and blenders for oncology nutritionists, that otherwise would not be covered in a department’s budget.

Alicia Michaux, Outpatient Oncology Dietitian at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, received a Cooper CARES grant this past May to purchase Vitamix blenders. Oncology nutritionists will use these blenders to educate patients through food demonstrations which will reinforce proper nutrition during all points of their cancer care.

“Patients will now have the opportunity to try different soups, smoothies, and protein shakes that will help them maintain weight and achieve the right mix of vitamins and minerals,” she said. “Patients will have the hands- on option to practice what I preach.”

The Cooper CARES program has made quite an impact on both employees and patients at Cooper. The program reaches all areas of the organization allowing anyone to submit a request. Employees interested in applying for a Cooper CARES grant, can find more information under the Cooper Foundation tab on the Portal. To make a contribution, please visit and designate your gift to Cooper CARES.