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More Than 100 Absentee Ballots Cast, Thanks to Oakwood

The southeast Michigan health care provider helped secure general election ballots for 109 patients across their four hospitals.

When Tracie Terrell entered Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn in late October for a check-up and they told her she'd have to stay, life got put on hold.

The resident of Westland had to cancel a meeting, let her family know where she was, and she wasn't going to be able to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

"When I got here, I wasn't expecting to stay," she said. "When I realized I wasn't going home, I wondered how I would be able to vote."

Luckily, Oakwood's Volunteer Services and Spiritual Support teams had wondered the same thing—and found a solution.

In 2008, Oakwood began a program that helped patients secure and turn in absentee ballots. This November, the program went system-wide, helping 109 patients in the health provider's four hospitals vote absentee.

Of those, 36 were in Dearborn's hospital, organized by Director of Spiritual Support Beverley Beltramo.

"Part of what we do in spiritual support is think about patients as people," she explained. "What is important to them?"

For Terrell, like many others, voting was crucial to be able to have a voice in the future of the country.

"It's really important for us to vote," said Terrell, who was thrilled to see her favorite candidate—President Barack Obama—win re-election. "It made me feel so much better to know that I was able to participate."

Moreover, she said she knew she needed to set an example for her children and grandchildren.

"You're the head of the family," she said. "And if I'm the head, I have to have a voice the rest of my family can hear."

Terrell thanked Beltramo and Oakwood for their support—not only offering the service, but driving to Westland to pick up the absentee form for her.

"(Beltramo) didn't promise she could do it, but she said she'd try," Terrell said. "I'm happy to know somebody cares about the patients and this important event."

Beltramo was humbled, but said she understood the importance.

"It's not a trivial thing," she said. "It's a way we connect to normalcy."

Anne Gautreau November 10, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Congratulations to Oakwood Hospital for supporting participatory democracy and for demonstrating creative problem solving skills! Their efforts in helping patients to secure ballots are both impressive and gratifying. Theirs must truly be a "feel-good" institution.

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