Homecoming project comforts families of trauma patients at HCMC

by Hennepin Healthcare

On Sunday, October 16, 2011 from 1 PM to 2:30 PM University of Minnesota nursing students helped assemble 200 Comfort and Hope Tote Bags at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) as part of their “Thank U” event in conjunction with the University’s Homecoming. 

Each year, more than 500 seriously injured trauma patients are admitted to HCMC’s surgical and pediatric intensive care units. Many of the patients are referred from outside the metro area, and they are often admitted in the middle of the night or on weekends. When families of these patients arrive at HCMC, the last thing they think to bring are items to help themselves through the first several stressful days at the hospital.

“When families leave home to be with their loved ones, they’re not thinking long-term,” explains Trauma Prevention Specialist Julie Philbrook, who is the founder of the “Comfort and Hope Totes” program. “Their main objective is to get to the hospital as soon as possible. But as time goes on, they find themselves needing some basic care items.”

In response to this need, the HCMC Trauma Brain Injury (TBI) Center’s Care Delivery Team received a grant from the Hennepin Health Foundation for the “Comfort and Hope Totes” program, where families receive a canvas tote bag filled with comfort items they may need during their stay at HCMC.

“Hennepin County Medical Center staff know that having a loved one injured and in the hospital can be a very stressful time. Through the generous support of the Hennepin Health Foundation, we are to provide them with a tote bag filled with some items to help make the hours they spend here a bit more comfortable.”  

Each large canvas tote includes a warm blanket, travel pillow, toothbrush and paste, deodorant, comb, $3 for snacks from vending machines, journal and pen, and one parking voucher.

According to Lisa Miller, Interim Director the HCMC Volunteer program. “We are hoping to expand this program to reach more of our patients and their families. Currently, we work with our Spiritual Care team and Social Workers to distribute them to families of our trauma patients, but we are also hoping the expand the program so more families will be served.”

Each tote bag costs $15. Donations to the Comfort an Hope Tote program can be made to the Hennepin Health Foundation.