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Sharon Baker

Honoring a Legacy of Extraordinary Compassion

The hospital was a big part of Sharon’s life. The doctors and staff were like family to her, and most of her friends worked for the hospital. Her main focus was helping doctors and patients. She wanted to make sure everyone got the right care.

Barry Baker, Sharon's husband

Shahrdad Khodamoradi, MD, an anesthesiologist at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, has an unusual favorite snack: matzo and peanut butter. But not just any matzo, it has to be salted. Leave it to Sharon Baker, the hospital’s late medical staff office manager, to know that little tidbit about Dr. Khodamoradi. In fact, she kept a box of salted matzo hidden away in the doctor’s lounge just for him.

That’s just one tiny example of why the hospital doctors and staff adored Sharon. Her legendary warmth, compassion and tireless graciousness made her a pillar of Barnes-Jewish West County and her colleagues were heartbroken when she passed away on May 26, 2017. She had devoted 27 years to the hospital she loved so much.

“She made every single one of us feel like we were her favorite person. Sharon was like a Jewish mother who doted on everyone,” Dr. Khodamoradi says. “Every time I go into the lounge, I still look for her.”

He’s far from alone. In fact, members of the Barnes-Jewish West County medical staff association so wanted to honor her legacy that they created a patient care fund in her name at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. This endowed fund, established with a $50,000 gift, will help provide a financial lifeline for years to come to patients who are unable to pay for critical medical treatments and other daily necessities including food, rent and utilities.

Physicians and other individuals within the hospital and local community are also joining in the effort to remember Sharon. If another $25,000 can be raised from individual donations, the medical staff association has agreed to match up to that amount, bringing the total funds raised in her memory to $100,000. In addition, at this level of philanthropy, the replacement hospital’s medical staff lounge will be named in Sharon’s honor.

“Sharon’s knowledge of the workings and history of the hospital was essential in guiding our leadership over the years,” says J. Chris Eagon, MD, chief of staff. “And in the early days, she was truly a one-person sales force for our hospital, traveling to area physician offices encouraging them to send patients to the hospital.

“After Sharon’s passing, many of us on the medical staff wanted to appropriately commemorate all that Sharon gave to this hospital,” he says. “With the construction of the new hospital, it seemed appropriate to create a philanthropic gift to memorialize her devotion to the medical staff.”

Sharon’s husband, Barry, knows how much the fund’s creation would have meant to his wife.

“The hospital was a big part of Sharon’s life,” Barry says. “The doctors and staff were like family to her, and most of her friends worked for the hospital. Her main focus was helping doctors and patients. She wanted to make sure everyone got the right care.”

“Everyone” is the operative word in that last sentence, as Sharon was concerned about each person she met, regardless of who they were or their role at the hospital, says Roxane Harbaugh, who now manages the medical staff office.

In a personal experience, she recalls Sharon’s efforts to help when Roxane’s husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. Sharon checked in with her every day to see if she or her family needed anything.

"She wanted to make sure I was okay, that my husband was safe, that we were all safe,” Roxane says. “That’s the type of person she was. She was a friend to all of us and the mother of Barnes-Jewish West County.”