In the midst of a medical crisis, “What will I wear?” isn’t something that many people have time to think about on route to the emergency department.
Yet, often, patients arrive with damaged or dirty clothing as a result of the incident they’ve endured. Some have lost all of their belongings in a fire. Others might arrive wearing the only clothing they own. In some cases, a patient’s clothing may need to be cut off by hospital staff in order for them to be examined and treated effectively.
The frequency of patients arriving to hospital in need of clean clothes has inspired social workers across Hamilton Health Sciences to launch “Clothing Closet” programs at the Hamilton General, Juravinski and McMaster hospital sites. Together, they provide clean, comfortable clothing to hundreds of patients each year.
“Providing clothing to a patient can improve their hospital experience significantly,” says Fraser Hall, social worker in the emergency department at Hamilton General Hospital. “It also affords them a sense of dignity when they’re ready to leave the hospital.”
Hall helped to establish the HGH clothing closet in 2007, which is accessed more than 400 times per year. Since then, the McMaster Children’s Hospital emergency department and the Juravinski Hospital intensive care unit have followed suit. The Juravinski clothing program, “Nora’s Closet”, is the newest addition as of June.
“Nora’s Closet has a big impact in the lives of our patients by helping them leave the Juravinski Hospital with comfort and dignity,” says Jessica Daikens, social worker in the intensive care unit and cardiac intensive care unit at Juravinski Hospital.
“It allows us as a hospital to extend better care and compassion to those in need in our community.”
How to donate
All three programs have been largely supported thanks to the generous donations of Hamilton Health Sciences staff. If you are a staff member who would like to make a clothing donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The clothing closet programs also receive financial and in-kind support through the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, courtesy of community donors who have designated their financial support to these initiatives. To make a donation as a community member, please visit hamiltonhealth.ca.