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Wellspan Continues Tradition of Bringing Ballots to Bedsides

WellSpan Health has been bringing election ballots to the bedside of patients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to vote for the past two decades.

Ann Kunkel, WellSpan’s vice president of community health and engagement, and her team has played a significant role during the entirety of this longstanding process. She has seen how empowering a patient’s right to vote lifts spirits during the healing process.

“The response we have seen from patients after we assist them in voting is so positive. It truly is the best part and it reinforces how important it is that WellSpan continues to do it,” Kunkel said.

Caregivers, members of the case management team and volunteers work together at each of WellSpan’s eight hospitals to find patients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to vote on election day.

If a patient is registered to vote, has a valid driver’s license and lives in the same county as the WellSpan hospital, the patient can apply for an emergency absentee ballot from their hospital bed. The patient then designates a representative who can ensure the ballot is ultimately transported securely to the courthouse.

“It is so important to support our patients in doing everyday activities and what is more important than someone that wants to execute their right to vote and participate in our national responsibility,” Kunkel said. “It is our commitment across the system to help patients stay a step ahead and continue on their journey to health.”

Richard “Chug” Gibbs, of Stewartstown, learned about WellSpan’s process in assisting inpatients to vote while he was hospitalized for several days last week.

“I think everyone should have the right to vote and it’s wonderful what WellSpan is doing,” said Gibbs.

“For the people that can’t get out to the polls, WellSpan is taking measures to make sure people can vote. That means a lot to people to be able to vote.”

While Gibbs submitted his ballot prior to being hospitalized and didn’t need to utilize the process, his election wish was granted in a different way thanks to the care he received at WellSpan York Hospital.

The 70-year-old has served as judge of elections for Hopewell Township for the past several years, but when he was hospitalized on Oct. 25 with internal bleeding, that streak of serving the poll was in jeopardy.

“It’s my job,” Gibbs said. “I want to be able to do my job.”

Following several days of treatment, Gibbs was released from care Thursday allowing him the opportunity to serve his post at Hopewell Township’s election headquarters on Tuesday.

“That means so much to me. I can’t say enough about the nursing team here at WellSpan. Everywhere I have been in this hospital, I have received the best care,” Gibbs said.

WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization includes a clinically integrated network of approximately 2,600 physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs), including more than 1,600 employed physicians and APPs; a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight respected hospitals; approximately 20,000 employees; and more than 200 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities. Visit WellSpan.org.

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