By Marcia Frellick
Last year, when Lauren Potter, BSN, RN, a staff nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, heard about a website where people could ask for donations to make their patients’ stays more pleasant and comfortable, she had a child and a gift in mind. Her patient, Bryan, nearly 2, spent practically every moment immobilized. He was in traction with four pins in his legs after surgery to help correct deformities. Wheelchairs weren’t practical because of his positioning, so he often remained in a hospital bed during transports. Potter posted Bryan’s story on the website for the nonprofit The Monday Life, which got a very important ball rolling on Bryan’s behalf.
The name “The Monday Life” came from a concept by founder Joey McMahon of Chapel Hill, N.C., who asked people to do something good on a day maligned for its abrupt shift to the work week — to give $1 every Monday to help improve children’s hospital stays. Mondays are one-seventh of a person’s life, McMahon said, “If you could help a hospitalized child, then maybe your day would be a little bit better.”
McMahon, whose mother once painted cartoon characters and playful images on windows at Duke Children’s, had seen the impact small changes could make in a young patient’s happiness. He also researched the positive impact the environment in children’s hospitals could make on health outcomes.
Potter knew what would make days a little better for Bryan and kids like him. She asked The Monday Life donors for a $650 wagon, designed to look like an alligator, with an IV trailer for kids ages 1-5. Ten hours later, she had enough money for two wagons — one alligator, one raccoon — which are now used in both wings of the surgical trauma inpatient unit. “The IV attachment was a huge benefit because a lot of our patients are constantly on multiple infusions,” Potter said. With the wagon, one nurse — instead of two pushing a mobile bed and IV pole — can transport a child to activities and exams.
Website spawns Anddit
The Monday Life began collaborations in 2011 with Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, N.C. — McMahon’s alma mater. The money raised on the site was first used to fund projects at Duke, including purchasing 11 iPads for the child life specialists, hiring outside massage therapists and increasing hours for music therapy. Later, The Monday Life added four other main partners: University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Hospitals share the news of funding opportunities on their internal websites, with family and friends, and on social media.
While The Monday Life continues to invite donations that support innovations at children’s hospitals, McMahon also has developed a new platform called Anddit for nurses to propose ideas and raise money for specific projects. The name “Anddit” comes from joining “and” and “it”. The idea is that a nurse starts the project, while the “and” is the Web community that will help make “it” happen. The proposals take only a sentence of description, so nurses don’t have to agonize over detailed grant proposals and budget requests. “Nurses have amazing ideas but not a lot of time,” McMahon said. “So the idea is to make it as simple as possible.”
Once donors sign onto Anddit, they can follow groups and receive emails from those groups when new projects are posted.
Anddit also helps direct distribution of The Monday Life funds, McMahon said. That way, nurses are deciding how the money will be spent on specific projects. Anddit has initially opened its services to pediatric nurses, but McMahon plans to expand to other nurses, teachers and other professions.
Among the first requests on the site were a computer tablet to help keep children undergoing spinal taps occupied, gift certificates for children completing chemotherapy and money to replace a bulletin board. Such projects also provide a way for nurses who are several steps removed from the budgeting process to have a direct role in getting patients what they need.
Pillows to help kids’ pain
Meghan McCleskey, BSN, RN, a staff nurse in the surgical trauma unit at CHOP, recently posted her project idea on Anddit: pillows to ease children’s stomach pain. Nurses had been using baby blankets and bed pads rolled up and taped together, so kids could hold them to their stomachs to relieve pain after abdominal surgery. “We never really thought beyond that because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” McCleskey said.
When a patient arrived from another hospital with his own pillow, McCleskey knew it was something she wanted for her patients. Patients can use the $25 pillows, then take them home. And since they carry the hospital’s branding, she added, they also can serve as a marketing tool.
McCleskey said she hopes procuring the pillows will lead to a study on their benefits to patients so they can build a case for making the pillows a standard budget item in the hospital.
Toys to distract youngest patients
Karla Abela, MSN, RN, CPN, CCRN, met McMahon in 2014 when she was a nurse manager in the pediatric intensive care unit at Duke last year and he was introducing The Monday Life. Abela, now the clinical specialist for the pediatric ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, remembered the potential of the website and realized it was a great way to ask for some toys and tools to distract the children, minimize stress and prevent delirium. Often the infants’ treatment and the noise from the PICU phones, pumps and monitors disrupt their sleep patterns.
The toys, such as a projector that shines pictures on the ceiling, help distract and calm the babies and prevent the delirium that can lengthen hospital stays, Abela said. Her team received $1,000 for the project and the toys arrived in July.
Abela said she is looking forward to developing new projects on Anddit. She said these platforms empower nurses to use their creativity to request exactly what they need for their patients without the need for formal requests or detailed proposals. “It gives clinicians the opportunity to collaborate with others outside of the organization and their discipline, to solve everyday issues by looking beyond conventional ways of acquiring resources,” she said.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer.
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