Comforting Families in the ICU: April 8, 2014

“My husband was admitted on Oct 12th,” says Terri Creadon.

The painful events are still fresh in Creadon’s memory.

“He went into cardiac arrest or ‘Code Blue’ and he was transferred to ICU.”

Battling cancer, her husband was in the last stages of life. Family and friends gathered at Cape Coral Hospital. Up to 20 people strong, Terri had a loving support circle.

“We had social workers, they helped a lot. And then they sent us to a quiet room,” Creadon says.

It is common to have a quiet room set up near the ICU, because family members don't want to go far away from their loved one.  They could end up spending hours, even days there.

 “It’s heart-wrenching for a nurse to see how families go through this anticipatory grief of losing a loved one,” says Sabrina Sanfort, registered nurse with Lee Memorial Health System. “So you want to help, sometimes you feel lost, you feel like I can’t do any more for the patients, so what more can I do for the family to make this easier.”

Out of that sense of caring, the ‘comfort cart’ was conceived.

“Food isn’t allowed in the ICU per say, so we wanted to offer something to the family when they were going through this,” says Sally Wilson, guest services manager at Cape Coral Hospital.

“We deal with a lot of death and dying in the ICU. And unfortunately our families are under a lot of stress,” says Amy Hiteman, ICU director.

So an assortment of food and drink s- from a comforting cup of coffee to nutritious snacks -  are wheeled into the quiet room. So-called ‘compassion blankets’ are also waiting there; hand-crafted by parish nurses-they provide a layer of warmth. So loved ones can hold vigil.

“When my family and friends came we could all stay together and not be running around to get those items,” says Creadon.

Small, but loving gestures, giving people strength when it is needed most.