White Coat Notes

Mass. General staff donate 7,000 hours of sick and vacation time to nurse hurt in marathon bombing

Jessica Kensky and her husband Patrick Downes.
Medford, MA., 10/11/13, Jessica Kensky, cq, and her husband, Patrick Downes, both cq, each lost a leg at the Boston Marathon bombing. Her new service dog is named Rescue. This is for a story about a Central Mass. nonprofit called NEADS: Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans that trains these dogs and has promised to provide one free of charge to any of the bombing victims. Jessica is the first bombing victim to receive one. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staffThe Boston Globe

Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the few companies that allow employees to donate their vacation and sick days to colleagues who need help. And nurse Jessica Kensky, who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombing, was clearly in need.

Kensky, an oncology nurse on Lunder 10, lost a leg in the attack, as did her new husband, Patrick Downes. Because she had worked at Mass. General only about 18 months, she had not accrued much time off. Within days of the bombing, hospital employees—nurses, cafeteria workers, and maintenance staff—began to step forward with donations of vacation, holiday and sick time from their “time banks.’’ Mass. General recently calculated the total: more than 7,000 hours.

The donations allow Kensky to stay out of work as long as three and a half years, if she chooses. “We got hundreds of employee calls and e-mails offering to donate time,’’ said Steve Taranto, director of human resources. “We decided not to put any limit on it.’’

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In a letter to the Mass. General community earlier this month, Kensky thanked her colleagues, who also have provided meals and helped secure a handicapped-accessible apartment for the couple. Jeanette Ives Erickson, chief nurse, said Mass. General nurses also stayed with Kensky and Downes during their initial recoveries at Boston Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, respectively.

“Patrick and I were overcome by your kindness and generosity,’’ Kensky wrote. “Not only does that (donated) time enable us to worry less as we pay our bills, it allows me to maintain my status as a full-time employee with healthcare coverage. Your kindness is more than just appreciated, it has been crucial in easing our suffering and ensuring our continued care and financial stability.’’

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