Volunteers preparing new ‘pads’ for Batson patients

Published 10:45 am Friday, February 19, 2016

In an activity room at Crawford Street United Methodist Church, a group of women assisted by a few children have been spending their evenings decorating lily pads.

But these pads are not the flat green disks people see floating on a pond or lake that are usually the landing spot for an occasional frog or dragonfly. These pads are wooden disks 26 inches in diameter with up to six caster wheels for mobility to help young cancer patients be more mobile while they stay in the hospital receiving chemotherapy. They allow a child to safely move around their floor with their IV pole.

The group’s goal is to decorate 12 pads and deliver them to Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.

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“We hope to have one for every child, that is our ultimate goal,” church member Wanda Cook said. “We won’t be able to do all of them, but what we’re hoping is that others will see the pads and make them. We will leave the pattern at the nurses station.”

“We already have offers of help from a 4-H club and a Boy Scout troop,” said Robyn Lea.

The idea for the pad began with Cook’s desire to make her granddaughter Analiese’s time at Batson more pleasant. Analiese has cancer and had to go to Batson to receive chemotherapy, which is delivered intravenously.

“The children want to get out, but the chemo makes them weak, and if they get out of bed, they have to the take the IV with them; they need something that would allow them to move around with the IV,” she said.

Presently, when the children want to get out of bed and move around, she said, they sit in a wagon that is pulled by someone else.

“Actually two people; one to hold the pole, and another to pull the wagon,” Cook said. “It gets tiring, because they don’t want to go back to their rooms, so you’re walking through the halls pulling the wagon.”

Thinking there had to be a better way, Cook talked with her friend and fellow church member, Lea, who began researching alternatives and came across a Facebook entry about a high school in Auburn, Washington, that made the pads for a children’s hospital in the state. The idea for the pads came from a student who is himself a cancer patient.

“I called the shop teacher at the school, and I must have asked him 4,000 questions,” Lea said. “I figured he must have had a lot of calls, but he hadn’t. I figured once that hit facebook, a lot of people would be calling him.”

With her questions answered and a copy of the pattern for the pads, Lea presented the idea to Cook.

The pad was cut and the prototype was taken to Batson for Analiese to try.

“When we first took it up there, it was just a piece of plywood; nothing,” Cook said. “We put it on there to see if she would like it, and she did.” Lea showed a video of Analiese standing on the pad smiling, holding her IV pole and waving to nurses as she passed the nurses’ station.

“The people who saw it — it was just raw wood — said ‘We want one,’” she said.

That set the wheels in motion for the project to make 12 pads.

The pads are cut by church member Lewis Decell from 1/2-inch plywood using a bandsaw. Some of the finishing touches, he said, are cut by hand.

Each pad has a slot down its center that allows it to slide along the IV pole, and the caster wheels on the bottom give the pad its mobility. The child stands on the pad, and can be pushed along as they hold onto the IV pole.

“The original pattern called for a 24-inch diameter disk, but the IV poles at Batson are larger, so these are 26 inches,” he said.

After the disks are cut, they are taken to an activity room where they are painted. The decorations have no set pattern, allowing the workers to use their imaginations to paint the pads in an assortment of colors and designs from stripes, animals and flowers and blocks of solid colors.

“We want them bright and colorful,” Cook said. “Once they are completed, they will be sealed with polyurethane to protect against infection.”

Once delivered, the pads will remain at the hospital, except for Analiese’s, which she will take with her, Cook said.

And when this first batch is completed, will there be another dozen in the works?

“We don’t know,” Lea said. “We want to get these done. We’ll just have to see what happens then.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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