Friday, Jan. 04, 2013
Helping Hands project aids hospital patients
Volunteers bring warmth to those in need
By Bethany Bashioum
A group of Harrisonville volunteers are hoping to bring comfort to hospital patients in the worst of situations.
Those lending a helping heart through crafting blankets, pillows and walker caddies call it the Helping Hands project.
The project began in October 2012 after the hospital had the desire to give patients a little more TLC - tender loving care.
“Our job is to increase awareness and to produce a good patient experience,” said Martha Sims, Cass Regional Medical Center’s auxiliary coordinator. “We asked the nurses what they had in mind, and they told us.”
At last count, 534 items have been sewn for patients by 45 different sets of hands.
“Patients love them,” Emergency Department nurse Violet Warren said. “It’s amazing of how many stories I could tell about how much comfort a blanket can bring to a child who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident with their family.”
Warren said the blankets bring warmth to the victims.
“When they get to the emergency room, they’re cold, scared, and mom and dad and may be strapped down or maybe have been flown from the scene or placed in an ambulance,” Warren said. “They’re terrified and will just be physically shaken, and we can go to the cabinet and pick out a pretty blanket, and wrap them up in it so they can snuggle in it. We say, ‘This is yours to take home, but hang onto this while you’re here, and that everything is going to be OK.’”
Blankets are also given to oncology patients during their chemotherapy to keep them warm during their treatments.
The Helping Hands volunteers also make comfort pillows for patients that come to the emergency department, have surgery, in the intensive care unit or receiving oncology treatment, Warren added.
“It’s the same thing with the child, it gives them the comfort,” she said. “I always tell them, ‘This was made just for you by women with loving hands.’ Anything that you give to someone in who is need, it makes their life easier, and anything that we give them enriches their life.”
Each item has a tag sewn onto it, displaying a stamp that reads, “Just for you. The Helping Hand Project.”
Crafter volunteers are drawn from several local organizations, including Harrisonville’s VFW Women’s Auxiliary , the Progressive Priscillas Homemaker Club, and Harrisonville’s United Methodist Church’s women’s group.
The hospital also wishes to get Girl Scouts or girls involved with 4-H connected with the project.
“Very creative people have made things for themselves, husbands, neighbors, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but they still have this desire to produce something to be helpful and to make a difference,” Sims said.
Sewers also help make walker caddies for patients in physical and/or occupational therapy at the hospital.
Materials for the project are often donated to the volunteers, or picked up at reduced prices at local garage sales.
The crafters are also in need of prints and colors of fabric to appeal to both men and younger children as well, and Sims said the need for more handmade items is ongoing.
“The hospital differs from a nursing home in that we do not have full-time residents,” Sims said. The patient population changes daily, and sometimes hourly. It’s an ongoing need and we are watching our numbers very carefully trying to be sure we go up with the population and patient needs. We talk with department heads to make sure we’re on target.”
The United Methodist Church ladies held two sewing days last fall to make the gifts for hospital patients, and hope to make it a monthly event. The ladies involved said they’ve made crafts for nursing homes for several years, but didn’t realize the hospital had the same need.
“We have had Martha (Sims) come tell us these wonderful stories about her experience when she shared these items at different meetings or with the nursing staff,” volunteer Betty Catron of Harrisonville said. “It’s just so rewarding to know that they are truly appreciated.”