Winners of 2018 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored

Greg and Uma Chugha were presented with the 2018 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service for their 14 years of service to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Meadowmont.

Winners of 2018 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored click to enlarge (from left to right) Linda Bowles, director of UNC Hospitals Volunteer Services, Greg Chugha, Uma Chugha, Suzanne Herman, System Executive Director of Patient Experience
Winners of 2018 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored click to enlarge (from left to right) Sofia Corella, Kristina Heredia-Morris, Holly Ozgun

The husband and wife volunteer team were presented the award at a dinner held at the Friday Center on April 18. The pair has made such an impact through their volunteerism that the staff and all the other volunteers from the cardiac rehab program attended the dinner to share in the presentation of the award.

Before the award was presented, Mary Ann Compton, program director for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, and Josh West, exercise physiologist and volunteer liaison, both delivered remarks about the Chughas contributions to the center. Suzanne Herman, System Executive Director of Customer Experience, presented them with the award.

The Chughas first began volunteering at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in 2004 and were the first volunteers to join the unit, but the welcoming atmosphere the two have helped create and the compassion they express toward every patient who comes into the center has become the model for the nearly 20 volunteers that now regularly contribute their time to cardiac rehab patients.

Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised exercise program for patients who have recently experienced a major heart event – whether a heart attack or a major surgery. New patients to the center may feel vulnerable and often face a challenging road to recovery. Part of what the Chughas do is to greet new patients when they arrive, help them feel welcome and orient them to the center.

During his acceptance speech, Greg Chugha said “The pleasure we get in serving others is unbelievable. It gives us a sense of achievement, community involvement and a zest to lead a healthier and happier life. For this we have to thank the hospital and the wonderful people who with their drive and diligence create such a congenial environment where volunteerism thrives. We are indeed proud to be part of such an esteemed team.”

“The things that define Greg and Uma are their love and compassion,” says Josh West. “It’s something that comes out in every interaction you have with them. They are the most gentle, generous souls you will ever meet and we are lucky that they are a part of our community here at the center.”

Two UNC students who volunteer for Carolina Conexiones Pediatric Bilingual Navigation Program were also honored during the event. Holly Ozgun was presented with the Spirit of Continuous Improvement Award, and Sofia Corella was presented with the Heart of Service Award. Both awards were presented by Kristina Heredia-Morris, Carolina Conexiones Coordinator.

Elaine M. Hill, director of Volunteer Services from 1967 to 1990, began service at N.C. Memorial Hospital by serving refreshments at the hospital's opening in 1952. During her years of service, Hill exemplified quality patient care. She was instrumental in implementing the playroom for pediatric patients in the late 1950s, among other contributions. In recognition of her leadership, in 1990 the UNC Health Care Board of Directors approved naming the annual distinguished volunteer award in her honor.

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