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Saundra Falk, RN

Saundra Falk

Scooby-Doo started it all.

In 1999, when Sandi Falk’s hospital required staff to purchase their own surgical apparel, she began wearing scrubs and surgical caps in fabrics covered with designs running the gamut from team logos to cartoon characters. She and her fellow nurses noticed something special happening during preoperative patient interviews: Their patients enjoyed the colorful scrubs.

In particular, Sandi’s pediatric patients and their parents were amused and distracted by such favorites as Barney, the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, and Scooby-Doo. Toddlers seemed especially drawn to the lively headgear and often asked if they could have a special cap too.

After one such request, Sandi and other members of her staff brainstormed about their talents. The “Sew Angelic” project was the result.

Sew Angelic lets children having surgery choose their own keepsake cap to wear as part of the perioperative process. Nurses and others participating in the project assumed various roles. One nurse who’s an avid seamstress taught others to make the caps. Another designed the logo and cards. Still another manned the phones, arranged weekly sewing bees, and learned to assemble the caps. A fourth nurse cut the fabric into circles. Still another was the master organizer, recruiting volunteers for the assembly-line sewing, obtaining donations, and purchasing fabric. One of our surgeons donated start-up cash.

Within a month, we were making up to 40 caps a week. Children loved picking out their very own cap. Families appreciated the distraction for their anxious children and were reassured by the instant connection between staff and patients. It also eliminated the problem of staff struggling to keep paper caps on children to comply with infection control protocols.

The Sew Angelic group grew to include 12 staff members and a Girl Scout troop. The weekly sewing time developed into a team-building opportunity for the staff as they shared touching patient experiences.

After giving out 13,000 caps, the Sew Angelic group believes that this is one nursing intervention that has really made a difference. Not only are there no more tears, but parents tell them they feel more relaxed and less apprehensive as well. In honor of her exceptional work to make this program succeed, Sandi Falk was nominated for the “Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award.”

[adapted from an article written by Saundra Falk, Rebecca Neal and Susan Torres for the May 2008 issue of Nursing]



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