VOL 124 NO. 15
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Volunteer group at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital provides pillows for heart patients
“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience and just plain love for one another.” — Erma Bombeck
The patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital are resting easier these days. The St. Elizabeth Medical Guild Heart Pillow Group is supplying pillows to patients who have undergone heart surgery. The pillows were designed to alleviate the pain that is commonly experienced following heart surgery. The heart patients are instructed to hold the pillow gently against their chest to relieve the pain they experience when they move or cough.
Sister Rose Vincent Gleason, OSF, received a pillow from the group after she had open-heart surgery last June. “When I wrapped my arms around it, it relieved a lot of stress on my chest,” explained Sister Rose. She felt a sense of security as she used the pillow for six days. “I want to thank all the wonderful volunteers that made the pillows,” said Sister Rose. “I’m proud of them.”
Chairman of the group Theresa Jadlowski explained that Julia DeStefano conceived the idea. DeStefano was a member of the St. Elizabeth Medical Guild in 1998 after the heart unit was added to the hospital. “The patients just love them,” remarked Jadlowski. “It takes away the stress of recovering from heart surgery.”
After DeStefano got the okay from the guild to proceed with her idea, she designed the pattern for the pillow in the shape of a heart. The guild presented a sewing machine for the group and provided stuffing for the pillows.
The group initially met at St. Elizabeth College of Nursing but now meets in Marion Hall at the hospital. The group meets twice monthly and consists of 18 volunteers. They make 36 pillows in various colors each time they meet. Some of the pillows are made with a holiday motif. The group receives materials and funds from private donors. The women each work on a step in the process of creating the pillows. Two of the women cut the fabric using the heart pattern; others sew the fabric; some women stuff the pillows and others label the pillows with the words: “Compliments of St. Elizabeth Medical Center.”
Jadlowski, a member of the group for seven years, knows first hand what a difference the heart pillow can make in the way a patient copes with pain. One of her relatives had heart surgery and received a great deal of comfort from using the pillow. Jadlowski finds it very rewarding to volunteer in the group. “The patients are very gracious when we meet them out in the community,” said Jadlowski. She also likes working with the other volunteers. “They are a good, faithful bunch of ladies,” she said. “We get along well.”
Marie McQueen volunteers her time and skills making the pillows because she thinks the effort is for a good cause. “When I see the patients carrying the pillows in the grocery store, church or movie theater, it makes me feel good to know that I have helped someone,” said McQueen. She’s been a member of the group for five years, and she takes pleasure in the camaraderie of the group. “We have such fine friendships among us,” remarked McQueen. “We’re very close to one another. We go out to lunch together sometimes. It’s great to be a volunteer at St. Elizabeth’s. The hospital is great to us. They supply us with coffee and cookies.”
Gail McCarthy has been a member of the group for seven years and enjoys her part in the production of the pillows. She cuts the fabric for the pillows. She participates in the group because she feels it is a very needed service and she likes to sew. “It’s a delight to see them with the pillows,” said McCarthy.
Joan Carroll also enjoys being a member of the group. As a 1947 graduate of St. Elizabeth’s Nursing School, she has served the hospital for a good number of years. “I have a soft spot for the hospital,” remarked Carroll. “We do so much good for the hospital and it’s a great bunch of women to work with. It’s very rewarding.