Broward Health Medical Center

Oncology nurses spread joy through their community outreach programs.

TEAM: Inpatient oncology
ENTRY SUBMITTED BY: Patricia Treasure, RN, MSN, CMSRN, OCN, nurse manager

We are an inpatient oncology plus unit with 48 beds. We have always participated in annual breast cancer walks to support our patients and their families but we decided we wanted to do something that would touch people’s lives in a more intimate way.

We collaborated with the coordinator of a nursing home close to the hospital. We asked them to identify patients who have no family or visitors for Christmas and give us their wish lists. We called it “socks for the soul.” There were so many patients reaching out and kissing our hands and hugging us as we gave them their gifts. It was amazing.

We did that for a few years then decided to go back to our first love: oncology. We collaborated with the child life specialist for the pediatric oncology department at Broward Health Medical Center and chose two families with children living with cancer. We had them send us their wish lists. At one point the parents seemed more excited than children. They were so excited to see their children so happy in the face of all the challenges that they had. They did not know if their child would survive and my team took their minds off that, even if for one day. What a tear jerker that was to see those children and the parents as they opened the presents.

This past Christmas however, I believe we outdid ourselves. We collaborated with the Broward Kinship program and got matched with a sibling group who lost their mom to cancer a year ago. They had been living in cars and on friends’ sofas and the two younger ones were in the foster care system. They had just gotten a new apartment but had nothing in it.

Of course we got their wish list and collected enough money to buy most of what they wanted and needed and presented it to them a few days before Christmas. This sibling group trying to be extraordinary in the face of major roadblocks was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve been a part of. The brother, about 15 years old, came in the room not smiling much (trying to look tough), but when he opened the gift that was purchased specifically for him, his smile couldn’t be contained and it was an awesome one at that.

My team here will not brag about what they do and many times it goes un-noticed. Right now we have one of our own who was evicted and lost everything she owned. She is single mom and as always one of our team members went to work and got us all together, and once again the staff opened their hearts to offer all they could. They reached out to help this team member to help her recoup some of what she lost so she can still be a productive part of our team and society and support her child as well.

I am so very proud of this team of healthcare workers and do not think this should be a well-kept secret. The world should know about the great hearts to give that exists on this team on 4NT. It is an honor to be able to share this with you all.