During the last year, we started receiving postoperative heart patients who had well drawn designs cut out and placed as the top layer of their midline chest incision dressing, just beneath the tegaderm. The designs are always different, always well done. A batman symbol on a little boy's chest, a beautiful flower on a baby girl. The families noticed too. Parents have frequently commented on how good it looks. It makes them smile when they look at it. When the patients are old enough to know what is going on, they love the designs as well. For example, I had a little girl who came back from heart surgery with Olaf, from Frozen, on her chest. When she was told that she had Olaf on her chest helping her get better, she kept trying to look at it. Her mom took a picture to show her. When the little girl saw one of her favorite characters on her chest, she reached up to touch the dressing and smiled. For the rest of my shift, she would often reach up to touch Olaf.
I have had parents ask me who did the drawing, until recently I only knew that it was a nurse in the OR. His name is Richard Mccomas! Parents and family have expressed their appreciation for the drawings; it makes something scary a little less so. They also know that someone who they will probably never see, cares enough for their child to make them a special "BAND-AID" to help them while they heal.
Not just families notice, the staff in the PICU notices as well. I never doubted the care that patients receive in the OR, but it is nice to see such a beautiful reminder of the compassionate care given there too. I find it especially touching that Richard does this for the kids, although they will most likely never know who he is, as he isn't one of the nurses who the families will meet regularly. It shows he really cares for our patients, and is willing to do a little more to make their experience a bit less scary, just by giving them a special, personalized design. It has not gone unnoticed. The designs have made such a positive impact on the patients and families in the PICU that many of the nurses in the PICU have been wanting to learn the artist's identity so he can know how much his work means.
Families are utterly overwhelmed when their children come back to the ICU from open heart surgery. Time and time again, I have held parents' hands and walked them through the process of seeing their child postoperatively. Richard creates beautiful drawings that cover the child's sternal closure. These drawings help distract families from the overwhelming lines, IV's, tubes, incisions, etc. The personal touch it adds often brings families to tears. Richard does not get to be at the bedside to appreciate the families' reactions to his drawings. He has made a huge impact with such a creative gesture. He deserves to be recognized.
I don't think Richard is aware of the amazing impact he makes on our heart kiddos when they come back from surgery. When our kids come back, parents are often appropriately distressed and concerned, considering the surgery they went through. I've noticed when kids come back with Richard's artwork, it eases parents' discomfort. Instead of seeing a big scary bandage on their child's chest, they see fun, cute, and absolutely amazing artwork that seems to instantly relieve their distress. Richard's art is drawn specifically for that child. The OR nurses like to find something special about each patient, so they can help give him ideas for his picture. I personally love that he does it. We all get excited to see what kind of artwork our heart kiddos will get when they come back.
Richard's art is a little added bonus enjoyed by many that helps make our kids at Children's Mercy feel extra special. Big thanks to Richard for going the extra mile to touch the heart of many.