• Pediatrics Patient Stories

    A Labor of Love: Mayo Clinic Volunteers Touch Patients and Their Families Through Their Handiwork

Excerpt from my journal – April 30, 2009

“Today I saw the most beautiful newborn baby. He appeared perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes. His face, with lips that were full like a cherub, seemed filled with the promise of many tomorrows. His arms and legs, tiny as they were, bent gracefully as he was dressed in a gown and hat by members of the nursing staff. The fabric was soft and white, edged in miniscule lace, and, against his reddish coloring, made him look robust.

Two nurses with the very gentlest of hands cared for this child. His weight in ounces and his length a mere few inches received their attention and care, the same as a robust squalling newborn.

Seeing him in the bassinet, wrapped in a white blanket, I could only imagine the love that would fill the hearts of his family as they looked at him.”

Over the years, I have watched the team of volunteers from Rochester Methodist Hospital (RMH) create dozens of tiny gowns and bonnets, blankets and memory envelopes. Until that day in April of 2009, I had never seen a recipient of their work: a family whose baby was born too early, a family who would hold their precious newborn briefly and then grieve for the life not to be fulfilled.

The handiwork of the RMH volunteers helped create the caring and dignity that was provided by the nursing staff for that tiny baby and his family.

RMH Volunteers

In addition to the gowns, bonnets and blankets, the volunteers work together on numerous projects. Sitting around the table every Tuesday morning, these dedicated individuals work to ease the fear and stress of our patients.

  • Volunteers cut, sew and stuff approximately 200 small, stuffed animals every month. These are given to children for comfort while receiving treatment, or as a means of distraction while they wait for a family member to complete their appointments.
  • Children having out-patient surgery are able to choose surgical hats to cover their heads. These hats are made just for them from a fun child’s print by the volunteers.
  • Over 2,000 tiny caps are knitted by volunteers each year and given to babies born at RMH.
  • Volunteers knit shawls of hope that are distributed by the Chaplains to patients they feel need comforting
  • For patients who have casts on legs or arms, volunteers create toe and finger cozies to keep them warm.

These volunteers exemplify teamwork: some trace patterns on fabric, some wield scissors, and those with the best eye sight thread the needles for those with nimble fingers to do the sewing. Those volunteers who don’t sew stuff the animals plump with handfuls of polyester fiber.

RMH volunteers arrive every weekday, some as early as 6:30 a.m., working to support our patients, visitors and staff. The staff working with patients are professional to their core yet say humbly they could not do it without the efforts of our volunteers.

I invite you to watch the following video of our volunteers in action.

Barbara Kermisch is the coordinator for the Auxiliary/Volunteers for Rochester Methodist and St. Marys Hospitals

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine