A Simple Model for Kindness that Makes a Huge Difference

University of Pennsylvania Hospital. PennHOPES patient sits smiling in hospital bed holding Starbucks Frappucino

A Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino. Games, puzzles, arts and crafts. The blessed relief of a backscratcher.

These are among the small things that Penn Medicine patients say makes their long-term inpatient stays more pleasant and endurable. And the health system’s staff is more than willing to provide them.

PennHOPES is a mini-grant program for providers to surprise patients experiencing lengthy stays with inexpensive but meaningful gifts.

There are only a few criteria: the patient must have an expected stay of five days or more, the request must cost less than $50, it must be for something that can bring the patient joy, and it can’t interfere with their medical plan (no burger and fries for a patient on a low-sodium diet). A small group of medical residents and hospital staff reviews and approves requests.

PennHOPES was launched with financial support from Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Transformation & Innovation to lift the spirits of patients with extended stays anywhere in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The founders hope to expand the program to other hospitals as resources permit.

Modest in cost, PennHOPES lifts the spirits of care providers as well as patients, says Chief Innovation Officer Roy Rosin, an early supporter of the endeavor.

“The freedom to deliver this aspect of care can help reconnect clinicians to the mission that brought them into medicine — the ability to provide comfort, reduce suffering, improve someone’s life, and recognize other people’s humanity while expressing their own,” he said.


Resources on the Role of Hospitals