<< Back

In its Fourth Year, Purple Light Project Continues to Bring Comfort

December 07, 2023

Like a beacon for mental health patients, the Purple Light just keeps shining. In its fourth year, Hartford HealthCare’s Purple Light Project (PLP) - founded and overseen by Erica Moura, director of human-centered care and patient experience for the Behavioral Health Network - continues to make an impact on lives. “Purple Light Project has been an opportunity for our community to help our neighbors, specifically with basic human needs and mental health and substance abuse disorders,” Moura says. “It has ignited more conversation among our children, who wear purple to support PLP. It provides education for our providers. And, most importantly, it can serve as a bridge for the ‘little extra thing’ that might make a difference in someone’s recovery.”

Meeting needs

Moura started Purple Light in 2020 after working for two years as manager of Hartford Hospital’s Purple Pod, the Emergency Department behavioral health unit. There, she repeatedly saw colleagues “dipping into their own pockets to provide things for our patients. And I thought, ‘We can do better.’” She initially turned to neighbors and local businesses for help. Then she organized a staff auction and 5K road race in 2021. The same year, PLP was extended to all Hartford HealthCare emergency departments. With monies from the fundraisers – this year’s road race attracted about 60 runners and raise about $2,000, while the auction raised $8,000 - PLP last year purchased:
  • 20 weighted blankets, which are calming
  • 48 backpacks for youth, as well as school supplies
  • Multiple tents
  • Trac phones
  • Food
  • 500 pill boxes
  • Medication lock boxes
  • 30 journals
  • Clothing, including gender-affirming items
  • Culturally inclusive hygiene products
  • Sensory items
  • Batteries for a blood pressure cuff
Transportation to help patients get to appointments can also be funded.

Supporting staff

To help front-line psychiatric emergency workers enhance the experience of behavioral health patients, PLP also sponsors an annual symposium with continuing education credits. It’s part of Moura’s desire to support the staff as well as patients. This year's symposium attracted more than 220 colleagues for presentations by 15 speakers, including opening remarks from Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks, and closing remarks from James O’Dea, MD, senior vice president, Behavioral Health Network.