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Heroes For Better

Small Acts of Kindness Make Big Difference

Support During COVID-19

A small act of kindness creates a ripple effect that extends beyond the initial recipient. And across Northwestern Medicine, individuals are supporting one another through many small acts.

Kindness Trickles Down

When a group of CT technologists at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital developed soreness, migraines and even bleeding after wearing face masks, glasses and goggles all day, two CT technologists, Janene Albrecht, RT(R)(CT), and Sarah Mueller, RT(R)(CT), decided to do something about it. They sewed buttons on wide headbands to which face masks could be attached securely.

“It’s really made a difference in terms of providing comfort for us. It is something so simple but made such a huge impact to help us not have chafed ears. It makes me feel more secure, so I’m not adjusting my mask either,” says Albrecht. And, it didn’t take long to get noticed. “Next thing you know, we kept getting requests to sew more.”

We’re all in this together.
— Jenna Keci, RT(R)(CT)

Since then, their creations have been shared with the ED, Imaging and other Nursing staff across the hospital. “It’s a very supportive atmosphere,” says Jenna Keci, RT(R)(CT), who recognized her colleagues for their work. “We’re all in this together."

The kindness continues to extend beyond Northwestern Medicine, as Mueller continues to sew and provide headbands to other local organizations. “It’s just kind of a trickle-down effect,” says Mueller.

You Can Brighten Someone’s Day

Meanwhile, at Northwestern Medicine Wound Center McHenry, Sarah Mahler, DNP, APRN, NP-C, CWOCN, has been busy with her own act of kindness: creating handmade masks for her team. “I don’t look at it as an act of kindness, if you can do any little thing to brighten somebody’s day," Mahler says humbly. "It makes me happy to do this for them.”

Mahler, a wound ostomy continence nurse practitioner, dedicates her time among more than 10 nursing home facilities. Because of the vigilant precautions, she is completing most of her work through telemedicine, giving her additional time in her day. She decided to use it to help others, working with her oldest daughter to make masks for her team and then using extra fabric to gift masks to neighbors and staff at a local nursing home.

“Sarah always helps out,” says Manoj Patel, MD, who works with Mahler. He adds, “We are a tight-knit team and everyone cares for each other.”

It’s About Protecting ‘Family’

Education Coordinator Danielle Ready, MSN, RN, CNL, OCN, who works at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, says even small acts of kindness at the hospital don’t go unnoticed.

Her colleague Sophie Oracz, RN, has created cloth masks, including child-sized versions, for her colleagues to wear home or take home to family. “We really appreciate the time and effort Sophie puts into these masks,” says Ready. “She is thinking of us outside of work, and it shows how selfless she is.”

Not only are the masks sized for children and adults, they also are created with safety in mind. Oracz uses several layers of fabric, leaves room for a filter to be inserted, and incorporates wire to secure the mask around the nose.

“We are a family, and I always do things for my family,” says Oracz. Normally, she puts her crafting skills to use by making quilts for expectant mothers. But now, the fabric scraps have come in handy. “This is just an extension of what I normally do. It’s covering my family.”

However, Oracz says making masks is not just about kindness. It’s about solidarity, too. “We are all in this together,” she explains. “That’s all there is to it.”

More About Navigating COVID-19