Crowds

Looking at all the crowds gathered for the Inauguration today makes me think about crowds and hospitals. Anyone who has ever been a patient in a hospital will tell you that the hospital is not like home.

The hospital seeks to be a safe place for people when their immune systems cannot handle the outside world. Some kids have to stay in isolation rooms with special air-cleaning systems to keep germs from getting in. Care providers and visitors must wear disposable gowns and gloves, so germs don’t sneak in on their clothes.

In the art rooms we use a lot of powerful disinfectant, as we have said before, but the hospitals also limit who comes to visit. During this year’s especially virulent flu season, many of our hospitals are limiting visitors. No special events or groups of visitors–only small numbers of family members–to minimize the germs that come into the hospital.

A big part of the value of Tracy’s Kids is that we can break up the monotony of treatment and recovery with creative work. As members of the treatment team, our art therapists are required to get flu shots, and are trained in how to implement infection-prevention protocols to keep the kids safe. Since we’re staff, not visitors, we are always there, just like doctors and nurses.

Here’s our model of the hospital depicting an epidemic of “Peeper Fever”–a whimsical view of infection control.

The photo I have shared is our entry in the Washington Post Magazine’s Peeps Diorama Contest two years ago. We depicted an epidemic of “Peeper Fever”–Justin Bieber was the hottest thing right then–but it’s made largely out of hospital “stuff” to give it the feel of the hospital. The kids had a great time using medicine caps, sterile tubing, and even a urinal to create a piece of art about infection control!

Keeping it Clean

The Tracy’s Kids Art Rooms in every location are a welcome oasis of creative chaos in the hospital environment. We like to have a colorful selection of art supplies on hand to inspire young artists. Many kids leave their recent works in the art room for everyone to see.

 

Art Room Display Board at Lombardi

All this is inviting, but since we work with kids with suppressed immune systems, we have to be very careful to keep all this stuff clean. We keep down the clutter as much as we can, sending artwork home or filing it away for safekeeping, but most importantly WE CLEAN!

 Hospital Grade Disinfectant

Every day the art tables, chairs, markers and pencils are cleaned with hospital disinfectant wipes, and EVERYTHING in the area—toys, brushes, containers, clay tools—is cleaned at least once a week. We want the kids to be comfortable and have fun, so we do our best to provide an experience that is both spontaneous and safe!