Although less noticeable than new clinics and services, a quiet undercurrent of change runs through CMH every day. It carries gifts from the heart to our patients and their families.
This quiet side of carrying out the Planetree ethic is a grassroots effort. For example, the housekeeping staff chat with patients each day as they clean their rooms. With their suggestions, we’ve created a “comfort cupboard” filled with the most popular patient requests: cards, crosswords and word searches, fancy coloring books and colored pencils, and even reading glasses. The housekeepers distribute these gifts to brighten up difficult days.
As we stand amazed watching the cancer center literally rise in front of our eyes, all of us—patients, families and caregivers—feel the undercurrent of love, reassurance and compassion that comes from simple gifts of the heart.
Other kindnesses come to patients from far away. Our Quilting from the Heart group in Oceanview, Washington, sews year-round to create beautiful quilts for people in the hospital, newborns, people who are in the No One Dies Alone (NODA) vigils and those in hospice care. These quilted works of art are such a gift and make all of us smile—patients and staff alike!
Another new project that supports the spiritual needs of our patients as they focus on healing is spiritual care rounding. Visiting patients in their rooms, the Spiritual Care Volunteers (both chaplains and laypeople) have three goals: to be truly present, to listen and to be compassionate.
For us, compassion takes many different forms; it may be as simple as fetching a cup of coffee, letting the certified nursing assistant know that a patient would like a shave, finding a newspaper or saying a quick prayer. These small acts can bring comfort and joy to both patients and volunteers.
Another small program makes a big difference for cancer patients. Beyond the Salon is a peaceful place created by our volunteers where people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation can come to discuss ways their bodies are changing and get help with wigs, manicures and makeup.
This program is supported by the CMH lab technicians, the American Cancer Society, and community beauticians and aestheticians, as well as the volunteers who are there to offer resources as well as a cup of tea and a chat. Beyond the Salon is a little beauty oasis that brings comfort to our patients going through tough times.
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