Sharing the love on Valentine’s Day at Michigan Medicine

February 16, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

From cards to teddy bears to flowers, patients and colleagues across Michigan Medicine felt the love and compassion of our amazing team members on Valentine’s Day. Here are a just a few of the celebrations that took place across the medical campus on Monday.

Valentines for #LittleVictors

Thanks to community members and employees, thousands of virtual reality valentine cards were sent to our Little Victors at Mott this year!

In partnership with a virtual reality company, Spellbound, patients could bring their card to life and kick a field goal, help a turtle swim or feed a dinosaur.

“This is so fun for our kids every year,” said Luanne Thomas Ewald, M.H.A., FACHE, chief operating officer of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. “Our patients love seeing the names on the cards and locations from across the country and world.”

The cards were also shared with all ambulatory care clinics that see pediatric patients to spread the love across U-M Health.

Bears for comfort

The Teddy Bear Program at Mott has always been a favorite of patients and their families.

“Patients at Mott receive a new teddy bear during their stay and our care team uses the bear as a way to bring comfort and reassurance to our patients,” Ewald said. “Before a procedure or test, many times our care team will perform it on the bear first to show our patient exactly how it will go and relieve some anxiety.”

The t-shirts on the bears are switched out for special occasions or holidays. This week’s bears donned a t-shirt with hearts and gnomes to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

In addition, Mott received a special donation from U Can-Cer Vive Foundation, a non-profit founded by the LaFontaine family that provides vital funding for cancer research, and their 2022 “UR My Valentine” initiative. Patients in Mott’s oncology and infusion units received bears and caps.

“We’re so thankful to the LaFontaine’s for supporting our Little Victors,” Ewald said.

Roses for new parents

For many patients in the women’s hospital, it was their first Valentine’s Day with a new family member.

“We wanted to ensure our Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital patients felt included in our celebrations,” Ewald said.

“We had sweet valentines made for them (without the virtual reality because we know new parents are a little busy!) as well as pretty bud vases with roses to brighten up their room and help them celebrate the holiday.”

Flowers for colleagues

On Monday, Tamara Kutter, administrative assistant senior in the Department of Pathology, and her crew of helpers surprised faculty, staff, patients and visitors passing through the Towsley Triangle with a fresh carnation and a note saying, “You are receiving this flower as a Random Act of Kindness. Keep it or…share it and spread more kindness!

“We passed out 500 flowers in just over two hours,” said Kutter. “Some people told us they were taking their flower home to their significant other. Many people passed by a second time and told us they had ‘spread more kindness’ by giving their flower away to a coworker, a patient or their boss. This is exactly what I hoped would happen!”

Kutter, who dreamed up, planned and coordinated the flower giveaway, said her plan had a purpose. People have faced great change and stress throughout the pandemic, she explained, and it can sometimes help to focus on something small and find happiness in that.

“Being the recipient of a random act of kindness, in this case receiving a flower, can often change your outlook,” she said. “And, if you share that act of kindness, you multiply the kindness exponentially.”

Kutter originally planned to purchase the carnations on her own from the Costco store in Pittsfield Township. However, when Costco learned of her plan, the store offered to donate the flowers for the giveaway instead.

Kutter expressed gratitude for the crew of do-gooders who helped make her plan possible. Colleagues Avery Polk, Caryn Crane and Jenny Fossom helped with setup and flower giveaways. Camren Clouthier captured the day by photographing the happy faces of flower recipients.

“This small act of kindness radiated throughout our medical campus,” said Kutter, “and it warmed my heart enough for TWO Michigan winters.”