Nurses Lisa Schavrien and Erin Ainslie Smith wanted their
patients’ voices to be heard on Election Day, even if they were
unable to physically leave the hospital. So the two Lenox Hill
nurses, along with a 20-person volunteer group, came together to
help patients cast their vote this past Tuesday, according to
the New York Post.
The volunteers headed into New York’s five boroughs to submit the
applications, retrieve ballots, and bring them back to the
hospital. After distributing the ballots, the volunteer team ran
back to the boroughs to submit patients’ votes before
the polls closed.
“Usually, it’s on the patients to get the ballots at the board,
go to the hospital to fill them out, then back to the board on
Election Day,” Ainslie told INSIDER. “A lot of patients couldn’t
do that leg work or get a friend or family member to do it for
them, so I thought it’d be good to help out ourselves.”
Ainslie and Schavrien first got the idea to help with voting back
in 2016. At the time, one of Schavrien’s patients requested help
casting her vote and the nurse obliged. Before that, the hospital
only provided applications for absentee ballots.
For the 2018 general election, the duo collaborated to submit
over 40 ballots on behalf of Lenox Hill patients.
“We just don’t want you to lose the opportunity because you’re unexpectedly in a hospital.” A pilot program at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side is helping women in labor vote on #ElectionDay2018. Talk about a profile in courage! https://t.co/L9EP1gohky
— NOW-NYC (@NOW_NYC) November 5, 2018
Many of the patients Ainslie and Schavrien helped were admitted
to the hospital last-minute and figured they would have to sit
this election out due to unforeseen circumstances. Some, like a
woman having brain surgery scheduled on Election Day, were simply
unable to leave.
“Lisa explained the program to her and the woman said ‘I’m not
letting them cut me open until I get my ballot,'” Ainslie told
INSIDER. “She was so happy to hear about what we were doing.”
The volunteers also helped women in labor and an elderly couple
who had to stay in the hospital on Election Day.
Currently, the best way to vote if you are unexpectedly
hospitalized is through emergency medical absentee
voting. However, Ainslie and Schavrien are hoping their
program inspires other hospitals to create similar initiatives
and that the Lenox Hill program grows.
“For 2020, we want to get 200 ballots in from patients,” says
Ainslie. “We want to help even more.”