Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Recently, I had the chance to sit down and FaceTime with Michaella Vecchiarelli from central Massachusetts about her work with the Massachusetts chapter of ISeeU Blankets™. She is currently in her senior year of nursing school getting her 2nd degree while also working as a PCA in a Neuro-Trauma ICU at UMass Memorial Medical Center- Worcester Campus. Prior to working in the Neuro-Trauma ICU, she worked as pre-hospital EMS that she still maintains and works in her town, and then she moved on to work in the ER as well. Her work has been vital in helping to spread ISeeU Blankets™ to other areas of the US.
How did you first hear about ISeeU Blankets™?
“I think I saw it first on Instagram from Nurse Life RN posts.”
What made you want to get involved with ISeeU Blankets™?
“I don’t know, I think your mission really resonated with me. I like your idea and your point about making sure that like the patients see themselves as more than patients and that we are seeing them beyond just the care they are requiring. It’s difficult on our unit because it does happen a lot where we get this interesting mix of patients who are total care with severe injury and then we get the occasional one sprinkled in the mix that’s more independent, [and both need the message].”
Where have you implemented ISeeU Blankets™ and how did you do it?
“Our hospital actually rejected it because they said they are not doing donations of homemade items due to COVID. I have a friend that works on the pediatric floor and I even asked her how do you guys implement all your donations and she said ‘well we have an in house washing [system]’ and that makes it acceptable for them so I pitched that and they said it’s not possible. So I ended up getting in touch with a local hospice house that accepted the donations. I’m coordinating with them for a drop-off soon.”
How do you raise money for blanket materials?
“The first big chunk was definitely of my own, but I reached out to my family and my friends and some students from my class. The first donation from somebody actually came from a family member of mine whose twin girls we in the NICU when they were born and she said ‘I totally see what you’re doing and I can say with certainty that similar donations and organizations in the NICU made the total difference’ for them when they were staying there. She said that she sees the total value in it and she fully supports and is totally behind it. [Donations] have leveled off a little bit but I did just get something in the mail the other day, a gift card for Joann’s.”
What has your experience been like and have you had any memorable moments?
“The only ones I’ve given out so far were for my neighbors actually. They had a family member in hospice care recently and so I gave her one for her family member and a couple more to bring in. She said they were well received! A lot of places in our area are being really, really restrictive with visitors, so it has definitely been challenging.”
What I loved about speaking with Michaella was how she didn’t let COVID-19 stop her from spreading the message of ISeeU Blankets™. Though she can’t bring the blankets to her hospital due to new COVID-19 hospital policies, she recognized another population of people that needs to be “seen” and sent blankets there. She is a great girl with a huge heart and I thank her for all of her help expanding to MA!
If you or someone you know would like more information on how to get involved with ISeeU Blankets™, please visit the “Stronger Together” tab or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!