How one nurse’s thoughtful idea has changed the way children experience the Emergency Department.
Last year, Joe Schmuecker, RN, set up a mailbox so pediatric patients being cared for in the Emergency Department (ED) could write letters to Santa. He then personally responded to each letter at the end of his shift.
This year, Santa’s mailbox has been set up again, and Schmuecker is ready to bring some holiday cheer.
The mailbox this year is a bit fancier than last year, and Schmuecker has already replied to 35 letters in just one week.
“The letters that stand out to me the most are the ones where the child checks the ‘I’ve been naughty’ box, though the kids do have a chance to explain why they think they’ve been naughty,” says Schmuecker. “There are also the letters that ask for selfless acts, like having their sibling not be sick. Those messages stay with you.”
Ultimately, Schmuecker would love to see the mailbox expand beyond the pediatric ED. And the mailbox isn’t just open to our patients; children of staff are invited to drop off a letter in the mailbox as well.
“It’s something that puts a smile on a child’s face while they are being treated or are here to see a loved one; it can take them away from the fear of the hospital,” says Schmuecker.
“This might be one of the worst days in the life of this patient or their family, so I try to let them know we aren’t just nurses, we are humans, and we are here for them as people who care, too.”