Hospital stays are transformed into special occasions

For patients, each hospital stay is a notable experience. And it's up to their caregivers to ensure the memories are as pleasant as possible.

Several employees at Holston Valley Medical Center have done just that, creating fond memories out of unfortunate circumstances.

For one patient, the visit coincided with her wedding anniversary. Her nurse immediately notified the dietary department, knowing it has a long-standing system to help patients celebrate when their birthdays fall during their stays. The department rallied, transforming a basic hospital meal into a special dinner for two, complete with dessert and a card.

"It just takes a few minutes to do something that makes a patient's day better, and makes them feel better about their hospital stay," said Kawana Cooper, the dietary services department's weekend supervisor. "We want our patients to know we care enough to pay attention to special things like birthdays and anniversaries."

Another day, a 26-year-old woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS - was brought to the hospital's emergency department. She mentioned to her nurse, Amanda Jackson, that her skin was dry and irritated. When the conversation turned into a discussion about facials and beauty rituals, the patient mentioned that she had never had a manicure or pedicure.

"I just thought, 'How sad, to go through life without ever having a manicure.' It's a mainstay for so many young ladies," Jackson said. "And since her ALS is so advanced, she may never have the chance."

Jackson's charge nurse had an unused gift certificate for a manicure from Valley Springs Spa, which is located in the hospital. She gave it to Jackson, who knew exactly what to do.

Not only did a manicurist agree to visit the patient, but she also brought pedicure supplies and a rainbow of polish colors to choose from. Within a few short hours, staff had transformed the hospital room into a spa for the day.

"We may not be able to cure her illness, but we were able to do this one thing for her, and I hope it made a difference," Jackson said.