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The Perfect Tribute

November 30, 2020

One person's journey from patient family member to employee to donor.

Kaitlynn King is a patient care technician who works on 5 South — UPMC Hamot’s COVID unit.

A native of Erie, Kaitlynn moved to Florida after graduating from high school. Last October, she received a call that her grandmother was seriously ill. “She was my best friend since day one,” Kaitlynn said, “so there was no question about rushing back to see her.”

Kaitlynn ultimately moved back to Erie to help care for her grandmother. Last spring, Kaitlynn’s grandmother received care at UPMC Hamot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tragically, Vivian Melvina Newberry died late last spring after months of declining health.

Though family visits were limited due to pandemic protocol, Kaitlynn and her loved ones were astounded by the care, compassion, and communication they witnessed from UPMC Hamot team members.

Inspired by this experience, Kaitlynn made a career change.

“The care my grandmother received at UPMC Hamot convinced me this would be a good place to work.“

Fast forward to today. Kaitlynn now dons protective gear each shift to serve patients on the COVID unit, delivering the same compassionate care her grandmother received at UPMC Hamot.

But the story gets even better.

Kaitlynn recently heard that employees and community members could dedicate a room in the brand-new patient care tower to honor a loved one. Donors can share their honoree’s story and photo near the room as a lasting tribute. 

Kaitlynn had struggled to find closure to her grandmother’s life after COVID robbed her family of a final farewell due to limitations on large gatherings.

"She deserved so much more,” Kaitlynn said. “I thought how awesome it would be to have an ICU patient room dedicated to my grandmother. This would be the opportunity for me to tell her story. It’s something in my heart that I wanted so badly to do. It’s something she deserved."

This month, Kaitlynn pledged to donate $1,000 a year for each of the next three years, dedicating a patient room in memory of her grandmother. Though Kaitlynn credits her grandmother as a major inspiration in her life, we have found Kaitlynn’s own actions to be inspiring.

Kaitlynn created a powerful tribute to honor someone dear to her. Learn how you can do the same.