Students reach out during parents’ tragedy
Students at the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) are providing care boxes for parents of stillborn or premature babies within their local community. The students assembled the care boxes on Valentine’s Day and planned to deliver them to Middlesboro ARH Hospital.
The Appalachian region suffers from increased rates of poverty as well as stillborn and premature births. This often leaves hospitals and community members in need of basic emotional and financial resources after experiencing birthing complications. In line with LMU-DCOM’s mission of service to humanity in Appalachia and beyond, students in the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) chapter at LMU-DCOM created The Kenley Project to show compassion to these patients and families during times of tragedy and uncertainty.
Students named the project in memory of Kenley Evelyn Wood, who was stillborn born on Feb. 25, 2013. The students were inspired to find a way to help families of stillborn infants after hearing Kenley’s mother, Rebecca Wood, a stillborn care advocate, speak to their class at LMU-DCOM. Wood often shares her experience of perinatal loss with medical students in the hope to improve similar experiences for future families.
Each stillborn care box includes a small digital camera with transferable files, a framed hand and foot print cast set, stillborn grief books, baby hair and ashes keepsake locket, an informal birth certificate, a hand and footprint kit, information on grief groups and support, and an encouraging letter from Rebecca Wood, a stillborn care advocate. All of the items are assembled inside of a beautiful decorative box.
“When a baby is stillborn, there is a very finite amount of time to make a lifetime of memories. Once the family leaves the hospital, that’s it. There are no more moments with their baby,” Wood said. “The Kenley Project’s memory kits will help provide these families with important tools to make the most of their time with their child, while producing keepsakes such as handprints, footprints and photographs.”
Premature baby care boxes include a preemie beanie, a pocket blanket, preemie socks and mittens, a teddy bear or stuffed animal, a framed foot and handprint set, a gas card and a gift card for a two-night hotel stay for parents to be able to visit their baby while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“While there is little that can be done to ease the immense pain of losing a baby, having the opportunity to create even just a few memories is invaluable and a huge part of the grieving and healing process,” Wood said.
GHHS is one of the largest and most prestigious honor societies in medical schools, and a signature program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. LMU-DCOM is one of only 13 osteopathic medical schools approved to have a GHHS program. Each chapter selects a project for Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient care, held Feb. 12-16, 2018 nationwide. The projects during Solidarity Week are designed to strengthen the critical bond that exists between patients and people who care for them, and demonstrate humanism in medicine.
The LMU-DCOM class of 2020 hopes to continue this project on a yearly basis and expand it to include other regional hospitals who would like to participate. To make a donation to The Kenley Project visit http://dcomalumni.LMUnet.edu/solidarityweek. For local hospitals who would like to participate in The Kenley project contact, James Dolbow, MS at james.dolbow@LMUnet.edu or Mandy Alhajj at mandy.alhajj@LMUnet.edu.