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HUP Healers Showcase Their Creative Flair at the 13th Annual

Holiday Tree Decorating Contest

WHAT:           The 13th Annual Holiday Tree Decorating Contest at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).

Again this year, the trees - all of which are provided by the Abrahamsohn Committee of the Board of Women Visitors - will be creatively and cleverly decorated by HUP staff, patients, and their loved ones in each clinical unit. A panel of judges representing HUP and the Abrahamsohn Committee will choose ten "tree finalists." Ultimately, five winners will be selected from the finalists and the units they represent will each be awarded and a commemorative plaque and $150 – which goes towards supplies and materials for next year’s competition

                        Not interested? Think this will be totally boring? Think again!

                        Competition for the five final spots is fierce. Last year’s winning displays…

      1. Went native with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme.
      2. Honored US and UPenn founding father Benjamin Franklin and collected money to buy books for a local elementary school.
      3. Spread holiday cheer via some of America’s favorite comic strips characters – the Peanuts
      4. Decked their halls with boughs of gross but fun “germs” to remind all of the importance of hand hygiene
      5. Were proudly patriotic while supporting our troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.  

WHO:             For over a century, HUP's Abrahamsohn Committee of the Board of Women Visitors, a volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the hospital environment for staff, patients and visitors alike, has spread cheer among patients and their loved ones during the holiday season by distributing festive plants and trees to all in-patient units and decorating the hospital's public areas.

WHEN:           TOMORROW:  Tuesday, December 19th

                        10 AM to 12 PM

                        Judging begins at 10 am

WHERE:        Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

                        3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia

                        Main, Ravdin Lobby (Starting point for the tour of units)

Still not convinced?

Participating hospital units are VERY secretive and guarded about their themes, VERY competitive, and VERY creative when it comes to this annual contest. Over the past 12 years it has grown into an eagerly anticipated HUP tradition for patients and staff. With each passing year the themes become more complex; the decorations more elaborate; and the execution more distinctive. For example, check out descriptions of last year's finalists:

Inspired by the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Rhoads 1 staff went native with a pirate theme:  "Promoters of Care-and-Being" had it all:  a treasure chest filled with a "wealth" of patient education information, a treasure map, and a tree dripping with "treasured" advice, such as "Shiver me timbers. Quit smoking today!"

 The Rhoads 4 staff winning entry was an inspired combination of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania Health System history, and modern marketing. Sparked by a school project of a daughter of one of the unit’s nurses which was recognizing the 300th birthday of UPenn founding father Benjamin Franklin, the Rhoads 4 staff took facts and sayings credited to Ben and tied them in with quotes from the health system’s “We Are Medicine” advertising campaign.


"Benjamin Franklin was a man who cared about making life better for others…We are caregivers.”

“He developed bifocals, swim fins, the Franklin stove, the armonica…We Are Innovators.”

“He began the first hospital, the first library, the first fire department…We Are Beginnings.”

 The Rhoads 4 tree was decorated with bolts of lightening topped off with a kite. In recognition of Franklin’s philanthropy, the unit also collected money and bought books for a local elementary school.

The staff of Rhoads 5 paid homage to beloved American comic strip characters, the Peanuts, to help brighten up the family waiting room on their unit. All decorations were made from scratch by anyone who visited the unit and wanted to participate. Popcorn garland and ornaments depicting Charlie Brown and all his pals adorned the tree. Cheery and fun window displays featured Schroeder with his piano and Snoopy and his doghouse while Linus offered all holiday wishes, "Peace on Earth, good will toward men."

The Unit on Dulles 6 took to grossing people out in a fun and educational way to remind staff “of the importance of washing hands as they go in and out of patient rooms, and also as a teaching tool for patient family members.” They didn’t deck their halls with boughs of holly. Oh no. They dangled “germs” from their tree and on all the windows. This “Gross Anatomy Lesson” was accomplished in a fun way. Staff stuffed latex gloves to make hands and then decorated those  hands with enlarged replicas of germs…from E coli to strep. Alongside the “germs” were the germ-busters:  bars of soap, Purell and Betadine. To cap off the display, there was a Santa complete with surgical mask reminding all to have a “germ-free Christmas!”

The final winner of last year’s tree decorating contest was the staff of Founders 6 who picked a patriotic theme, “CT SICU Supports Our Troops.” Along with multiple flags and platoon of patriotic Barbies was a very serious message:  the support of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LHCP). The LHCP is a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. The unit was able to raise and send to soldiers things like personal toiletries, sweatpants, toothbrushes, socks, t-shirts…all things that give them a little piece of home while they’re away from home

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