Giving Strength is a publication of the Office of Philanthropy at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham.

Giving Strength recognizes community members and donors who share our commitment to expanding opportunities for living healthier lives.

Giving Strength Fall/Winter 2020

A different perspective: Leadership Spotlight on Ghania El Akiki, MD

Ghania-El-Akiki-email.jpg#asset:9120Dr. El Akiki is the chief of hospitalist service at BID Needham. As a hospitalist, she oversees the care of inpatients. She has been on the board of advisors at BID Needham since 2019 and was recently named one of the 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in the Newton, Needham and MetroWest business community by the Newton Needham Regional Chamber.

Who inspired you to become a hospitalist?

As a hospitalist you need to learn how to act fast, build trust, support patients and their families during extremely stressful times. My father was a big believer in positive thinking: he was a teacher and a writer, played the lute and at a younger age was a part time assistant magician. He taught me and my four sisters how to work hard, be a good listener, think positive and always keep a good sense of humor. His positivity helped us during very difficult war times back home; he always said everything happens for a good reason.

Did your view of being a leader change during the first wave of the pandemic? What was the most challenging aspect of the response effort?

COVID definitely brought a different perspective to medicine. What kept me up at night was how to protect our clinicians, staff and patients while getting ready for the worst. We knew very little about the disease and had to act as fast as possible to implement changes. Not having a magic wand, we quickly realized that we needed to preserve the workforce as well as reach out to our colleagues to prepare for surges. Primary care doctors, specialists, and physician assistants all volunteered to help in case of surges and we trained our colleagues to become hospitalists and intensivists.

The community really rallied behind the hospital. Can you talk about what that support meant to you?

Knowing that the community supported us and had faith in us kept us going. They reminded us to take care of ourselves. They trusted us and knew that we would do the right things and keep working hard to find more answers. It meant a lot to us that people stayed home to keep us safe and break the curve.

You very eloquently spoke at a “kneel-in” to support Black Lives Matter. Why is the movement important to you?

I came to the US because in this country, everyone matters regardless of the color of their skin, gender, or religious beliefs. Today our black friends, patients, and colleagues are suffering injustice. We have lost loved ones due to racism and we cannot remain silent. We organized a kneel-in event with colleagues at academic institutions in Boston and across the country to show support and solidarity to those affected by racism. We are so lucky to work in a very inclusive and supportive institution, but we all know that there is a lot more work to be done. The new BID Needham Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is looking at ways to improve access to health care for these patients and hopefully improve outcomes.

Everywhere you turn, heroes emerge

GS-1.jpg#asset:9121Every day, nurses, physicians and staff are on the front lines of this pandemic, and they are the last line of defense against this public health crisis. Despite the immense challenges and unknown risks for health care workers, right from the start, the community rallied around the hospital in extraordinary and unprecedented ways.

“Generosity is just everywhere and this pandemic has shown the best of everybody,” says Samantha Sherman, vice president of Philanthropy at BID Needham. “I have witnessed this movement of kindness from our community that is truly powerful and overwhelming.”

From the beginning, the community reached out with gifts of masks, cleaning supplies, gift cards, and food donations. Neighbors donated parking lots, parking spaces, and MBTA passes to ensure staff could get safely to and from work. Handmade cards, painted rocks, thoughtful notes, signs and weekly parades brought smiles to the faces of BID Needham employees.

“This outpouring of support showed our staff that their efforts and dedication do not go unnoticed, they are appreciated and not in this fight alone,” says Kathy Davidson, RN, MS, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer, BID Needham.

GS-2.jpg#asset:9122Local businesses and organizations came up with innovative ways to support each other and the hospital. Led by Vinay Mehra, then president of the Boston Globe, the Globe purchased meals from local restaurants for all on-site hospital staff for the duration of the first wave of the pandemic. Working together to launch this innovative program, the Globe, BID Needham and the Needham Department of Health partnered to develop safe practices to prepare, package and deliver meals.

new-balance-web.jpg#asset:9123To offer staff and physicians more flexibility after their shifts to spend more time with their families, One Needham and Heal with a Meal purchased gift cards with community donations to local restaurants. New Balance shoes likewise stepped up to provide nearly 300 shoes to frontline works to ensure all had a second pair of shoes to leave at work to keep their families and homes safe from contamination.

So many small businesses and individuals who were also facing their own hardships chose to give back at such a pivotal time in the pandemic, to support the hometown health care heroes who worked tirelessly to fight this pandemic.

“I don’t think the community understands how profoundly their gestures have touched me and my colleagues during what was one of the most challenging times of my career. I don’t think I can ever repay them but I will continue to work to keep this community safe and healthy in gratitude,” says Cristina Allen, MSN, RN, CCRN.

For John Fogarty, president of BID Needham, he witnessed heroism in so many different forms. “Our staff stepped up in ways that seemed unimaginable such a short time ago, and the community was right there behind us the entire time. All of the support is truly amazing and can be felt in every corner of the hospital. We are incredibly thankful for your outreach, your understanding and your commitment.”

Healthcare Heroes Fund Soars

Supporting Employees in Need

HHF-email.jpg#asset:9124Since the first reports of this unknown virus overseas, BID Needham’s workforce has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to preparedness, planning and serving patients amidst the extremely difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They faced immense hardships just to walk through the door each day—new financial burdens, questions of how to best protect themselves and their families, alternative childcare and housing.

In response, BID Needham launched the Healthcare Heroes Fund which sought to alleviate sudden and unexpected financial stress caused by the pandemic for as many employees as possible. Every dollar raised went directly into the hands of employees in need.

Samantha Sherman, vice president of Philanthropy at BID Needham, led the effort to get the Healthcare Heroes Fund off the ground at BID Needham. “In the first week we launched the grant program, we saw that many of our employees were in a position of sole income provider and we understood the personal stresses across the board, from nurses, to housekeepers, and physicians. It really drove home the sacrifices our staff has made to do their jobs in such a brave and compassionate way.”

In alignment with its mission, the Healthcare Heroes Fund has disbursed over $175,000 to 147 employees across 29 departments. The fund is a result of community members and employees coming together—all looking to make a difference. Gifts ranged in size from $50,000 – $5 and every single gift helped someone who needed it.

As BID Needham continues to raise money in support of patients and employees alike, many of the financial burdens it has presented still remain. A gift to the Healthcare Heroes Fund will have an immeasurable impact and ensure that our most important work carries on in the weeks and months to come.

To donate, visit

Hope in revival

Revival-Email.jpg#asset:9125Revival Fund launches

As BID Needham continues to deliver on our mission of providing high quality care, the hospital must also prepare for a future with vastly different medical demands.

“In the wake of the first wave of COVID-19, we, as a hospital, have had to completely reinvent ourselves. To be successful, we have had to adapt and think differently about delivering care. I have many reasons to be optimistic—I have witnessed incredible acts of bravery and teamwork, staff who rose up to fight this pandemic who now have applied their talents to look at the way we deliver care. We now turn to a new day,” says John Fogarty, president of BID Needham.

Like most organizations and hospitals across the country, BID Needham has suffered impactful financial losses this year. To help regain financial stability and plan for the future, there is an urgent need for philanthropy. In response, BID Needham has launched the Revival Fund to provide essential capital in the near future, allowing the hospital to invest in increased services for the most severely ill patients.

To better serve patients by advancing critical initiatives and meet the community’s evolving needs, the aim is to raise $7 million over the next two years. It is with the ongoing tireless efforts and talent of our incredible staff that we remain prepared to keep our community safe.

It is with your generosity that we will recover and strengthen our impact. To donate, visit

Giving for the future: Sarah Ann and Jim Mahoney

Mahoney-email.jpg#asset:9126As residents of Needham for over 40 years, Sarah Ann and Jim Mahoney believe that health care is vital to the community—especially now more than ever. That is what has kept them motivated to devote time and resources—including a planned estate gift—to ensure their hometown institution thrives throughout this complex public health crisis and beyond.

“BID Needham isn’t just bricks and mortar. It provides accessibility and allows us to meet the greater needs of the area,” says Sarah Ann.

Jim, a former chair of the Board of Trustees at the hospital, agrees, so much so, that he has encouraged his family to get involved, including his brother William, a former trustee and current advisor, and his daughter, Ellen, a local pediatrician and a hospital advisor.

“Unless you give the time as well as your financial gifts, you don’t get as rich of an outcome,” says Sarah Ann.

The couple is proud that BID Needham has established itself as a leading community hospital. “We believe we have to fund the future of the hospital with established planned giving,” says Jim. “Financial commitments are critical to health care institutions like BID Needham.”

Jim spent 35 years in finance and knows a good investment when he sees one—but he says even an investment novice can easily make a planned gift.

“It’s literally one piece of paper, so you just call your insurance company or financial advisor and that’s it,” says Jim. “Planned giving is a way to increase your donation to the hospital over time when you might not necessarily have cash on hand today. This was my way to demonstrate my commitment, continue my legacy and allow generations to come have this outstanding hospital to rely on.”

To learn more about making a planned gift that earns income during your lifetime, email or visit

Photo courtesy of Stephen Sherman Studios

Taking care of caregivers: The Storer Family

GS-Stores-Social-Media.jpg#asset:9127Shortly after moving to Needham five years ago, Kritika and Scott Storer were invited to the BID Needham gala. There, they were introduced to the far-reaching impact the hospital has on the community. Since that time, as they both have learned more about its mission, they saw how the hospital’s commitment to serving others was reflected in their own family.

“Giving back is one of our core values that we have tried to reinforce with our boys,” says Kritika. During the first wave of the pandemic, Kritika knitted ear savers for masks that were donated to front line workers, including those at BID Needham.

Though their boys did not take to knitting, Kritika and Scott discovered they were concerned about food insecurity around Needham. They encouraged their sons to make lunch for a local women’s shelter.

“Volunteering has been energizing and motivational for our family and has provided us with a boost that we all look forward to.”

When BID Needham established the Healthcare Heroes Fund at the beginning of the pandemic, the Storers felt it was important to be involved. “We wanted to ensure BID Needham’s frontline workers don’t experience hardships as a result of their commitment to taking care of patients. In the end, whether it be knitting, making sandwiches or donating, we are just trying to use our unique skills and resources to help, like so many others in the community,” says Scott.

photo credit Caitrin Dunphy Photography

Expanding Women's Health: Medical Update

Sonali-Pandya.jpg#asset:9130Breast Surgeon Dr. Sonali Pandya joins BID Needham as the co-director of the BreastCare Center. She brings many years of surgical experience in breast care and the management of benign and malignant breast cancer and diseases and performs minimally invasive and hidden scar surgery. Together with the Lank Cancer Center, she is working to relaunch the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic, providing patients with the opportunity to have integrated multidisciplinary care all in one afternoon in one site.

Susan-Lincoln-20170518_0007_1.jpg#asset:9129Dr. Susan V. Lincoln is moving her well-established Gynecology practice to the Outpatient Clinical Center. She is an instructor in Gynecology & Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and certified by the North American Menopause Society as a menopause practitioner. Her clinical interests include: Menopause transition and management, Evaluation and treatment of abnormal bleeding, Abnormal Pap smears, and Contraception.

68.jpg#asset:9128In addition, Dr. Christopher Awtrey’sgynecology oncology surgery clinic will be housed in the Outpatient Clinical Center. Dr. Awtrey is a Vice Chair of Gynecology for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and a Boston Magazine “Top Doc” for 2020.


Download recent issues here:

Fall/Winter 2020 | Fall 2019 | Spring 2019 | Fall 2018