How applesauce and a stuffed animal formed a lasting bond with a patient
“Joe called me and asked if I could help him,” Van Gerpen says. “I thought maybe he needed me to babysit his daughters or something along those lines, so I was confused at first when he asked me if I could pick up applesauce for him.”
After learning the situation, Van Gerpen picked up the food and a stuffed animal and took it to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital where she and Swisher were able to deliver it to the patient’s room.
“Immediately the mother started crying and thanked us for what we did,” Van Gerpen said. “She was so appreciative of the care her child had received at UI Health Care already, and she thought it was amazing that people at our hospital cared enough to be willing to do this for them as well.”
Swisher says the mother asked him and Van Gerpen to visit the next day, and the two have formed a lasting bond with the family.
“I have tried to visit about once a week after that,” Swisher says. “I’m grateful for them, and I’m happy we were able to make a family’s tough experience a little better.”
Swisher is a father of two daughters. He knew he had to act in the moment because he believes someone would do the same thing for him if his family was struggling.
For Van Gerpen, whose mother was also a nurse, these situations are why she wanted to be in patient care from a young age.
“It goes back to why I got into nursing in general, which is to be able to care for people at their lowest moments,” Van Gerpen says. “As someone who is healthy and gets to go home at night, if there is something that I can do to make a patient feel better, that’s what I’m going to do.”