Despite the devastating fire that occupied us for the week of Chanukah, the joy and laughter of the children during this special holiday remains in our minds. Soon, the children will go back to school and become involved in their daily activities. For the children in our Pediatric Department however, the daily routine is quite different. Yet, I am proud to tell you that, although hospitalized, their days can still be joyful – thanks to an imaginative Head Nurse and her enthusiastic team.
“My goal was to make the department feel like home,” said Head Nurse Emanuelle Picard as she pointed out the changes on the third floor of the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center. She shared her ideas with Prof. Dan Engelhard, Head of Pediatrics at Hadassah-Ein Kerem, who heartily endorsed them – and this whirlwind of a woman began to put them in place in the 34-bed department.
She began with butterflies, enlisting the aid of an artist to paint a butterfly on the ceiling, along with the name of the child in the bed below, so the children would have something above to look at and relate to. Fortunately, those children have been discharged, but the butterflies remain, their colorful wings cheering up a different child in the same bed. “Sometimes, when children have to return for treatment, they asked to go back to ‘their’ butterfly and be put in ’their’ bed. I do my best to fulfill their wish.” said Ms. Picard, who is known as Mano by all who meet her – parents and patients, staff and strangers.
Today there are butterflies everywhere – on the cloth that conceals a lifesaving machine and opposite the Nurses’ Station where Israeli sculptor Dudu Gerstein’s fanciful creation adorns the wall – a gift of a generous donor.
Believing that sick children need something familiar during the long hours they lie in bed, she enlisted artists to paint murals on the walls of the children’s rooms. Very few people say ‘no’ to Mano. Now each child sees Dora, or Winnie the Pooh, or Bob the Builder or The Little Prince among others, on the wall on their side of the two-bed room.
When Ms. Picard heard about “Children of the World Paint Peace,” a project of Dvorah and Dr. Eli Fischer of Fischer Pharmaceutical’s, she approached the head of this large Israeli corporation and asked him to donate some of the children’s prize-winning drawings. He agreed and now, the artistic expressions of children from around the world beautify the corridor walls.
Inspired by this example, she decided to engage children much closer to home – the boys and girls in the department. Peace is a philosophical and ephemeral concept, not easily explained, especially to children, but help was readily available. Dvora and Esther, two of the talented teachers in the Department’s Hadassah School, happily lent their expertise. They sat with the young would-be artists, discussed the concept and helped them paint their perceptions. The sight of Israeli, Palestinian and foreign children “painting peace” said more than their pictures could ever convey. Their interaction was a vibrant testimony to Hadassah’s understanding that medicine knows no borders -- and that within our walls medicine can serve as a bridge to peace.
Dr. Fischer himself came to judge the final competition, and presented the prizes to the young artists.
Mano’s energy is boundless, matched only by her creativity. She says she is far from finished, but the results already speak for themselves.
“When children tell us they don’t want to leave, we know something good is happening here.”
Nothing is sadder than a sick child. Their fear and pain tug at our hearts. To ease their anguish, we designed Mother and Child Center, the pediatric departments and the pediatric emergency room in the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine to put children at ease and brighten up their small world. Mano continues to add the special touches. Many, many other members of our dedicated staff do the same – providing an extra “something” to put our patients at ease, listening as well as treating, looking around and doing something special to make their patients’ world a warm and welcoming place – to add that special, human touch.
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef