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Program provides comfort, aid to families

by Marina Fleming
Public Relations
MUSC’s Children’s Hospital has found yet one more way to improve the lives of its patients and families. Beginning this month, the Children’s Hospital will launch Gentle Journey.
Gentle Journey is a volunteer respite program serving patients with life threatening illnesses. Christine Messick, the Children’s Hospital volunteer manager, said the program is an effort among departments, including the Children’s Hospital Office, Child Life Department, Pastoral Care Services and the Palliative Care team.
“The program is one more way to meet the unique needs of our pediatric patients and their families,” she said.
The program, which was in the developmental stages for the past year, grew out of a need among the palliative care team, the children, and their families. Gentle Journey will be an opportunity for patients to receive consistent, non-traditional care from qualified volunteers on a regular basis.
George Pope, a Children’s Hospital volunteer since 2005, also has worked closely to bring Gently Journey to life. “I think Gentle Journey will be well received,” Pope said. “Gentle Journey will provide a formal process to provide comfort, aid, and assistance to both the children and families in an unfortunate situation.”
Throughout the initial stages of the program, Gentle Journey will offer two services: Healing Hands and MUSiC. Healing Hands will provide massages to patients and their families who need pain relief or relaxation. The MUSiC program incorporates a variety of music to encourage an increase in morale and provide stress relief. Volunteers will play instruments and CDs for patients. Patients also will have access to a cart featuring journals, Bibles, snacks, pictures, scrap booking materials, music and other therapeutic items.
Gentle Journey volunteers have to undergo a strict application process, including having served at least six months as a Children’s Hospital volunteer. The application includes essay questions, and is followed up with an interview by a team from the areas of Child Life, Pastoral Care, and Volunteer Services.
Gentle Journey is partially funded by the Wilbert Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and resources to help children cope with trauma and grief. This year, MUSC's Gentle Journey program was one of eight programs chosen out of 22 that applied. Messick said Gentle Journey was not only selected for funding but also received positive feedback from the foundation. “They were very impressed with the comprehensive nature of our plan,” said Messick.
The foundation presented the program with a $5,168 grant for the coming year. Messick says that the money will be used to support the program, cart, supplies, and volunteers. “After all, the program would not be complete without the dedicated volunteers,” Messick said.
“The Children’s Hospital is the one place I see miracles happening,” Pope said. “Even if I am a tiny small part of it, it is a wonderful feeling to be a part of that experience.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

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