UPMC Life Changers are employees who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of patients and staff, friends and family, and the community. Follow their stories in this series to see how UPMC employees are changing lives in more ways than one.
Mary Ellen Kremer, patient services representative at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, only needs a little bit of sparkle to make people smile. For the past three years, she’s been using a particularly crafty and colorful method to bring joy to patients.
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A Simple Act Made a Powerful Difference
As a patient services representative, Mary Ellen Kremer connects with nearly every person who checks into UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She’s more than happy to share a smile or a kind word with them, but one patient inspired her to begin a special project.
Nearly three years ago, Mary Ellen was helping a hospital visitor get checked in. She saw that the woman had come alone and wanted to brighten her day.
“I had to do something to make her smile,” she says. “In my desk drawer, I had different stuff to give to people to cheer them up. I was going to give her an angel pin, and then I found my bling bag.”
From her first day at UPMC, Mary Ellen has enjoyed decorating her personal work space and even keeps a collection of crafting materials on hand. Instead of giving the woman an angel pin, Mary Ellen decided to decorate her identification bracelet. She covered the bracelet in jewels and handed it to the woman.
“Her eyes brightened up, and it was the dearest thing,” says Mary Ellen. “She just kept looking at it and smiling. I knew then that I could make a difference. It was something so small, and I knew that I wanted to continue decorating bracelets.”
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Her Bling Bag
Since that day, Mary Ellen has continued adding a sparkly touch to patient ID bracelets. In fact, she’s even become known for her bling bag, earning local recognition from Pittsburgh television news station WPXI.
“I just love doing it,” she says. “I love seeing the transformation these bracelets bring to people who have never been to UPMC before. It’s such a small thing to do, but it’s a blessing to me. I feel like I’m the one getting a gift.”
Mary Ellen also gives out angel pins and takes a moment to chat with patients. She loves going to work each day and spreading joy to people visiting UPMC Magee.
“These are the types of things that people remember,” says Mary Ellen. “That interaction leaves people with good feelings about UPMC. If we could all do something to make a difference, how nice that would be.”
For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has provided high-quality medical care to women at all stages of life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. More than 9,000 babies are born each year at Magee. The hospital also treats men for a variety of conditions, including surgical treatment. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first center to focus research only on conditions involving women and their infants.