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Heart to Heart: Community Hospital Auxiliary volunteers make thousands of pillows for cardiac patients

By: Community Healthcare System Last Updated: September 4, 2019

Over the years, Community Hospital Auxiliary volunteers have crafted more than 5,000 pillows from the heart for cardiac surgery patients at the hospital.

“These pillows do so much good for the patients,” said Marilyn Brandt, one of the dedicated volunteers. “They provide such a comfort.”

The brightly colored, handmade heart-shaped pillows help support patients who have undergone open heart surgery. When patients cough, sneeze or breathe deeply, they squeeze the pillow to their chest to prevent their incision from reopening. The pillows can also be used when the patient leaves the hospital, to prevent a car seatbelt from rubbing against their chest.

Ruth Quasney has been making the pillows for 15 years. “The patients really appreciate them.”

Fellow volunteer Julia Wodarski knows this from her own personal experience. “I had open heart a few years ago and used one of the pillows. I thought ‘Here I am using it, why not start making them, too?’”

Ed Banham, clinical manager of Respiratory Care at Community Hospital, said his team is grateful for the pillows. “They give our therapists a visual aid to help patients feel more confident during recovery and decrease the fear and anxiety associated with open heart surgery. The pillows truly are a godsend to our patients.”

Community Hospital has one of the largest heart and vascular programs in Northwest Indiana. The hospital offers several minimally invasive options to patients requiring heart surgery. Those requiring open heart surgery have the full range of expertise and support throughout recovery and rehabilitation.

Community Hospital Auxiliary volunteers have crafted more than 5,000 heart-shaped pillows for cardiac patients. The pillows provide comfort and support to patients recovering from open heart surgery. Shown with some of the pillows are (left to right) Ed Banham, clinical manager of Respiratory Care; Community Hospital Auxiliary volunteers Julia Wodarski and Marilyn Brandt; Poutrise Peters, respiratory therapist and volunteer Ruth Quasney.