In October 2016, a careful review was conducted of the handmade item distribution process by a team of clinicians, infection preventionists, and a representative of the Riley Cheer Guild. As a result, new procedures were adopted to protect patients staying overnight in the hospital. To prevent our patients from acquiring a secondary illness while receiving treatment, the nursing team changes all bed linens at least once every 24 hours. These linens are then specially sanitized by a contracted vendor. Because we do not have laundry facilities on site that can perform this duty, handmade donations can no longer be used in the patient’s bed. As a result, we asked our community to put the production of all blankets and puppy pillows on hold. We continue to distribute the items we have on hand to patients upon discharge or in the outpatient center.
Please email us if you are interested in being placed on our waitlist as we identify future needs.
Greeting Cards: Handmade or store-bought with handwritten messages
We all enjoy receiving mail, right? Especially if it is a brightly colored, handmade card, with sweet sentiments. At Riley Hospital for Children, while we can leave handmade cards in the public areas for children and families to choose to take home, we are not able to hand out cards to patients directly for several reasons including:
Families come from a variety of cultural, religious, and family backgrounds. Hospital staff must be very careful to respect these important cultural aspects of our patients with regards to holidays and celebrations.
Kind messages can be perceived differently by children facing a potentially life limiting or chronic illness. Reading “get well” when you are told that your tumor is inoperable or “you will go home soon” when you are on a transplant list or “you are beautiful” right after you have lost your hair to treatment can actually make kids feel sad despite the positive intention to provide love and comfort.
Some cards ask for patients to respond to the writer and include the writer’s name and contact information. This is a privacy concern and a safety concern for both the writer and the patient who might receive the card.
Some children are anxious about being in the hospital. Receiving a card from an unknown person increases this anxiety for some children. Even though some may enjoy this gift, staff must protect all patients by anticipating this concern for even a few patients and families.
Handmade cards/cards with handwritten messages are exposed to the same types of viruses and bacteria that can cause infections, and some of these germs can live on paper for an extended period of time placing our patients at risk when they are vulnerable.
If you have any questions about this shift in supporting patients and families, please feel free to reach out to us directly at (317) 944-8705, and thanks for always helping us to put our patients and families first! Please continue to share cards with your local community centers, churches, long term care facilities, and daycare centers. You will be spreading comfort to your entire community!