Bon Secours – Tackling the Toughest Problems

Denika Palmer always knew she would be in healthcare; the nursing profession was in her family's DNA.

Growing up in one of Baltimore’s most resource-challenged neighborhoods did not daunt Denika Palmer from pursuing her goal of going to college. To do so,however, would require the drive and the money for tuition.
So Denika decided to first pursue studies as a private duty nurse. With those credentials, she would be able to tend to the needs of her clients, while saving for college.  She recalls driving to an early job interview in Greenspring Valley—now more than a third of her life ago.  Denika was struck by the fact that the homes were separated—not by walls like the row houses downtown, but by acres! And beautifully landscaped ones! That fateful journey opened her eyes to parts of her hometown she had never before experienced, nor even imagined.

“I was nervous and curious at the same time,” she recalls, likening the experience to a pilgrim in a new frontier.  While the disparity between the Baltimore she knew and the one she was about to experience was palpable, her anxiety was quickly dispelled by the graciousness ofher host. Denika got the job, and was on her way to funding her college education. She gradually took on additional clients—mostly friends or acquaintances of each other who also enjoyed privileged lives. But she vowed never to forget where she came from, no matter where her journey led her.

During one of her classes, an observant mentor suggested she consider coursework in finance.  “He noticed my analytical skills, and suggested I consider changing my major,” she recalls. “I had never heard of stocks, bonds, investments,or Wall Street.” But Denika ultimately found she had a natura laffinity for the complexities of finance, and she went on to pursue an advanced degree in thediscipline. In doing so, she shed her starched whites for bankers ’pinstripes, and now enjoys a successful career advising clients at Merrill Lynch about their financial health and well-being.

“My reason for serving Bon Secours is simple. I never want to forget where I came from, nor do I want to miss the opportunity to identify the little girl I was and offer her the opportunity I was given. When I walk through the hospital I find myself looking fo rthat girl; I want to help her.”  Typically, Denika comes to BonSecours every other month when the Foundation Board meets. She serves not only as Secretary of the Board, but also as a member of the Finance Committee, which makes recommendations about Foundation investments and budgeting. But the hospita lbecame very close to home for Denika when her uncle was recently admitted for his own healthcare needs. “The level of care he received was extraordinary,”she recalls. “The nursing staff exemplifies Bon Secours’ mission to provide good help to people in need.” She shared her observations at a recent Board meeting, where she thanked CEO Sam Ross for providing a cultureof care for the patients at Bon Secours  .And while Denika Palmer became a financial planner instead of a nurse, her work on the Foundation Board affirms her childhood aspiration to be in healthcare; she is now fulfilling that goal at Bon Secours.