Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | January 7, 2019

Making Patients Smile with Handmade Gifts

Tucked in the fifth floor break room of Duke Raleigh Hospital is a bin of colorful shawls and blankets that have been a labor of love for 12 hospital employees.

These individuals make up the knitting and crochet group, Made 4 U, which Becky Kandler, a respiratory therapist who is a nine-year employee of Duke Raleigh Hospital, started in October.

“I have taken my love for the fiber arts and used it to bring comfort and support to my patients over the years, always giving away more than I have ever kept,” said Kandler. “Seeing the need here, I starting digging deeper. I found that not only our hospital, but our cancer centers and even Duke University Hospital is in need of items. I needed more hands, so I decided to find more like-minded crafters and the best place to start looking was in front of me.”

The group is a mix of beginners, experts, and everyone in between. They meet, as schedules allow, in locations around Raleigh to tackle the long list of requests for handmade blankets, hats for cancer patients, prayer shawls, and blankets and caps for the tiny patients of the Duke University Hospital NICU.

Only last month did they first start sharing their creations with patients. Their reactions have been nothing but bright.

“Just having something that is not hospital colors, is soft, and you know someone made it for you can really change a patient’s demeanor,” Kandler said, rattling off stories about three long stay Duke Raleigh patient recipients whose smiles returned after receiving a shawl or blanket. “They just light up knowing that someone cared enough to do this for them.”

One of the group’s early members, Ronda Decker, a nurse manager in Duke Raleigh Hospital’s Progressive Care Unit and Central Telemetry, is about to finish a second shawl—her third contribution to the group. For Decker, the activity makes her connection to what matters—patients—stronger.

“This activity helps me unwind by giving me something creative to do that I know goes to someone in need,” said Decker, who regularly takes the activity home with her. “It keeps me focused on doing things that have a purpose and are patient centered.”

Over the holiday break, Ronda even had her mother and husband pitching in to make things for the group.

“We would all sit in the living room working away while watching Hallmark Christmas movies,” Decker said laughing.

For Sandy Miley, RN, CNII, GRN in the Duke Raleigh’s neuro step down unit, the group is a fun way to get to know co-workers that she may never have associated with outside of work.

“At this time in my life I find crocheting and quilting very therapeutic as I work long hours and go to school full time,” Miley said. “These activities are something I have always enjoyed and doing them for a group like Made 4 U, alongside my co-workers, makes it even better. I hope these simple handmade garments will comfort and bless patients who receive them.”

Kandler and Decker both noted that knowing how loved this little gesture makes a patient feel motivates them during the workday.

“We are so used to giving care one way—passing out medications, taking vitals—this group gives you the chance to see patient care and how you make a difference in someone’s life in a new way,” Kandler said.

–By Erin McKenzie

 


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