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Published on July 31, 2020

Tom and Lori Cicardo

Local couple's generosity helps protect hospital staff, community in fight against COVID-19

When COVID-19 crept into the Coulee Region earlier this year, Tom and Lori Cicardo knew there were hospitals elsewhere in the country struggling to provide enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.

The couple also had heard whispers about a possibility of a shortage closer to home.

"Doctors and nurses are often the first people to come into contact with the virus while caring for patients," Lori says. "They have families of their own. They have responsibilities of their own. Still, they're there when you come through the hospital's doors, and that can be dangerous for them."

Exponentially so without the proper PPE.

Having received life-saving care in the past at Gundersen, the Cicardos wanted to help ensure the health and safety of the organization's staff. Tom and Lori acted quickly, generously donating $20,000 in April through an endowed fund they created in 2018 in partnership with Gundersen Medical Foundation (GMF). Through the fund, known as the TLC fund, they tagged their gift to benefit Gundersen employees on the frontline of COVID-19, including the purchase of PPE like powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs). The special masks are used in high-risk settings to safeguard employees from viruses like COVID-19 and other contaminants.

"We are truly grateful for the generosity and support of the Cicardos," says GMF major gifts specialist Courtney Daniels Burke. "Their gift, along with the outpouring of support we have received from the community, has made it possible not only to keep our staff safe during COVID-19 but also to ensure the extraordinary care of our patients never wavers."

For the Cicardos, giving back through the TLC fund is a way to express their gratitude for the compassionate care they've received at Gundersen. It's likewise an opportunity to make a crisis more manageable for families who find themselves grappling with a medical emergency.

"The fund is designed to provide some instant relief or to alleviate a bit of the stress, especially when money is tight," Tom explains.

In the last two years, the TLC fund has helped ease families' obstacles related to transportation, lodging, food and more. The fund also has provided medical equipment, such as a respirator for Gundersen's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and baby box bassinets—safe sleeping spaces for infants who may not have an appropriate crib at home when they're discharged from the hospital.

"We know that much of what we give through the TLC fund is used to help people when they need it most," Lori says. "It's more than just Tom's and my initials. It's providing Tender Love and Care."

To learn how you can enrich lives through a donation like the Cicardos, please contact Courtney at cldaniel@gundersenhealth.org or (608) 775-1061.

"Together, we can make a positive impact on our community by being there for each other during the most difficult times," Lori says.

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