Quinnipiac University physician assistant students brave weather to deliver holiday cheer

PA program
Mrs. Claus (Jillian Strassner) and Santa Claus (Jordan Reed) helped bring holiday cheer to 80 families at the Pediatric Primary Care Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Saint Raphael Campus. They are surrounded by fellow Quinnipiac PA students LoriAnn Giovanniello, Jennifer Platt, Jaclyn Krawiec (front row from left) and Bethany Hrica, Kriezel Ersando and Kathleen Brenneman (back row from left).

Dec. 20, 2013 - The weather outside was frightful, but that did not stop students and faculty from  the physician assistant program from helping those in need Dec. 17.

They braved a driving snowstorm to bring holiday cheer to 80 families at the Pediatric Primary Care Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital's Saint Raphael Campus as well as to 75 men at Emergency Shelter Management Services on Grand Street in New Haven.

Led by Cynthia Lord, clinical associate professor of physician assistant studies and director of the physician assistant program, and Lisa Barratt, clinical associate professor of physician assistant studies, eight students visited the hospital in the morning to read to the children and discuss proper oral hygiene.

Handing out gifts collected at the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences as well as books, toothbrushes and toothpaste were students Kathleen Brenneman of Avon, Kriezel Ersando of Windsor, LoriAnn Giovanniello of Manalapan, N.J., Bethany Hrica of West Greenwich, R.I., Jaclyn Krawiec of Old Lyme, Jennifer Platt of Branford, Jordan Reed of Newtown and Jillian Strassner of Avon.  

"It was truly a day of giving," Lord said. "Santa and Mrs. Claus and the oral health and literacy elves made their way there in a blizzard and made an impact on those families."

In the evening, a second group of 11 students met on campus to pick up food for a pasta dinner to bring to the shelter. The food was cooked and donated by Lord, Barratt and Anthony Improta of Tonino's Pizzeria in Hamden.

Platt pulled double duty, delivering the food with fellow students Brittany Bordonaro of Torrington, Chelsea Byrd of Warwick, R.I., Ian Gillman of Denver,  Kathleen Kelley of Branford, Ryan McMahon of Seattle, Melissa Melo of Red Bank, N.J., Mark Murphy of Johnson City, N.Y., Frank Pino of Monroeville, N.J., Meghan Sprague of North Yarmouth, Maine and Alexandra Vitale of Wolcott.

"We were in the crux of the blizzard," Lord said. "It was a whiteout. The students weren't even in school. They were on winter break. Many of them traveled back from Rhode Island and other places to do this."

In addition to the dinner, the students gave the men at the shelter goodie bags that included undergarments and toiletries and discussed general health topics.

"I couldn't give a lecture that could have the impact this did," Lord said. "We have chosen a profession of giving to others. Our work goes beyond the exam room and does not end when we take off our stethoscope or hang up our white coat each night.  There is no bigger reward in medicine than being able to truly help those in need."