Grateful family thanks 250 Mott team members for compassionate care

About a 3-minute read

Key Takeaways:

  • A grateful family took the time to thank Mott team members for taking care of their ill child, who passed away, by providing lunch and wellbeing gift bags
  • The event was coordinated through partnerships with the Office of Development, the Compliance Office, C&W event and security teams and the Office of the Chief Nurse executive
  • A special thank you note was included in each gift bag for the team members

When 21-month-old Clara passed away after spending seven months at Mott, her family wanted to find a way to personally thank the nurses and technicians of 10W and 11W – all 250 of them.

Clara’s grandmother, Traci Hockstra asked Beth Dochinger, associate director of development, if their family could give each caregiver – whether they cared for Clara or not – lunch and wellness gift bags. 

“At first I suggested other ways to contribute funds to support the staff, but they really wanted to see their faces, thank them personally and give them these gifts for the compassionate care Clara had received,” Dochinger said.

Concerned that the unusual request might be unmanageable, if not impossible, Dochinger reached out to Marisa Streelman, strategic advisor to the chief nurse executive, as well as members of the Compliance Office, C&W event and security teams to see if the event could even take place. All the groups agreed they would do what they could to make it happen for the family.

“Everyone was so supportive,” Dochinger said. “Everyone wanted to help this family through their grieving process.” 

Hugs and tears

It took a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make the event a success.

Dochinger, along with her development colleague, Toni Lauretano, coordinated the event. Stephanie Sarna from C&W events and Rebecca Hulea from the Compliance Office got necessary approvals and forms completed. Extra carts used for the Mott toy drive were brought in.

On the day of the event, Kim Brantley from guest services greeted the bereaved family. Security officer Jesus Garcia, along with his DPSS colleagues, handled the crowded space full of family members and staff with great calm and support.

11W Nursing Director Wendy Cousino and 10W Nursing Supervisor Julie Brinson went to each floor with the family to thank the care teams individually and let them pick out their bag with the family. Cousino and Brinson handed out bags to nurses and technicians on the night shift later that evening.

Each gift bag included a thank you note from Clara’s parents which included these words:

Sweet Clara spent roughly seven of her short twenty-one months within these hospital walls. Throughout those seven months we went through every emotion that you can think of, multiple times. The emotions that stand out the most are those based on friendship: respect, appreciation and love.

I always said that Clara had a ton of friends, those friends just weren’t her age. She loved her friends. Even when she was clearly sick of being in the hospital she would still light up when her friends came into the room…

…I often thought about how hard it would be to be a nurse or tech. You have to be a truly special person to do what you do every day. You see sorrow and happiness, you fight to save lives and encourage the healthy, you help patients and educate parents…the list could go on and on. You do this all while keeping a brave face, trying not to get attached, and giving it your best, even when you may be having an ‘off’ day. I just wanted to let you know that Jason and I saw you, we want to thank you, and we appreciate you. I know that not all of you met Clara, but I hope that you have heard a story or two about the curly haired, big eyed, little fighter who loved to smile, play and did things her own way in her own time.

Thank you again for all of the kindness you have shown us and for all of the hard work that you do.   

“The care team members came together to support this family and their child by developing positive relationships with them and they were very emotional to see the family when they rounded and gave out the gift,” Cousino said. “There were lots of hugs and tears.”  

“The collaboration was apparent during Clara’s time here,” Brinson said. “Nurses, doctors, child life specialists, respiratory therapists, patient care techs and social workers all came together to support the needs of Clara and her family.

“Staff have shared how nice it was to connect with the family again,” she added. “Their visit reminded them of the impact that we have on the lives of our patients and families. Seeing the Hoekstra’s again made them appreciate the impact that every member of our team has on those we serve. It also provided a bit of closure for them. The staff loved the letter that was included. This personal touch really meant so much.”