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Pink Glove Dance: Breast cancer initiative spurs dance craze

When Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, heard her hospital’s “Pink Glove Dance” video had gone viral on YouTube, she blanched. “In all honesty, viral is not an OK thing to me,” says Moore, CNO for Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore. Her daughter set her straight. The video, produced by healthcare products maker Medline Industries Inc. to promote breast cancer awareness, was passed on through websites and e-mail (going viral) and became a huge hit, spawning a hospital dance-video craze across the country.

The three-and-a-half minute production features workers in all departments of St. Vincent waving Medline’s pink gloves and boogying to “Down,” by Jay Sean. In the year since its release, it has received more than 12 million hits and inspired at least 80 similar productions, including a Medline-produced sequel released in October.

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center

“The idea for the [original] video came up because we really wanted to focus on the healthcare worker, the clinician, the nurses,” says John Marks, public relations director for Medline, who was involved in the video since its inception. “We wanted to do a ‘Thank you’ video that spotlighted them.” The company is donating $1 for every case of pink gloves it sells to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and has so far given more than half a million dollars, Marks says. The donations help fund mammograms for those who cannot afford them.

Some hospitals used Sean’s song for their own pink glove videos. (When the British singer, who had studied medicine and had breast cancer in his family, saw the original video online, he not only endorsed the use of his song, he promoted the Pink Glove Dance in concerts and interviews.) Others commissioned original tunes. Some hired videographers or worked with local television stations. Some branched out beyond breast cancer — there are videos of hospital staff wearing purple gloves for all cancer survivors and heart-shaped headbands and sunglasses for heart disease.

Like the original, which was shot in a day with about 15 minutes of rehearsal before each segment, most have a goofy, spontaneous energy. Hospital staff are filmed stepping, twirling, clapping, bouncing on gurneys, sweeping hallways, answering phones and even folding laundry in time to a musical beat. Nurses break into dance routines in hospital corridors. Cafeteria workers wave plates. Surgeons link arms for elbow reels.

“For the staff to be able to have fun and know they were supporting a worthy cause was just a great thing,” says Mary Ellen Doyle, RN, BSN, MBA, vice-president and chief nursing executive at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla (Calif.), whose hospital was one of 11 across the U.S. and Canada that participated in the Medline sequel.

Some of the pink glove videos, including the sequel, also include breast cancer survivors among the dancers. In one variation from Waldo County General Hospital in Maine, a woman wearing a knitted hat does some fancy steps with her husband. The couple are dance instructors, and the woman had lost her hair after chemotherapy, says Sue Drinkwater, RN, OCN, nurse manager of the oncology unit at the 29-bed hospital. “That was quite moving for all of us,” she says. “It was great to see everybody doing something that was fun rather than thinking about cancer or talking about cancer. It took a lot of people away from the pain of the disease.”

In the Medline sequel, which had more than 270,000 hits as of Dec. 14, survivors dance in Times Square in New York, against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and in the snow in Minnesota. In Chicago, survivors wearing pink shirts are greeted by a barrage of healthcare workers in blue scrubs who link arms with them and begin spinning.

The original St. Vincent video has become an inadvertent recruiting tool, with job applicants saying they want to work at the “pink glove hospital,” Moore says. It has also showed the staff how much they have been affected by breast cancer, with many talking about how relatives, close friends or themselves have battled the disease. “It’s become a part of who we are,” Moore says. “It speaks to the spirit that is within us.” To this day, she says, she is most touched by the comments from people who saw the video and talked about how it affected them at their lowest point.

“I love, love, love this video!” one cancer survivor from Springfield, Mo., recently commented on the Medline Pink Glove sequel. “I saw the original Pink Glove Dance while I was going through chemo for breast cancer. I must have watched it a gazillion times. It always puts a smile on my face. … Cancer may have taken my hair, my waistline, made me sick, but it will NEVER take my spirit!”

Cathryn Domrose is a staff writer.

By | 2020-04-15T14:05:55-04:00 December 14th, 2010|Categories: National|0 Comments

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