By Anne Haddad
Editor’s Note: Trisha Kendall, R.N., B.S.N., O.C.N., has been named a finalist in the Daily Record’s 2011 Health Care Heroes Awards Program for her work with the UMMC Knitting Circle.
Once a month, on her day off from work as an oncology nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Trisha Kendall gets involved in a different kind of patient care. Kendall and several other Medical Center staff from various departments make up the UMMC Knitting Circle, which knits hats and scarves for cancer patients who have lost their hair temporarily as a side effect of chemotherapy.
The knitters include pharmacists, lab techs, dietary techs and even a few patients from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
Kendall keeps a stash of the handcrafted caps at work, and lets patients choose one they like. She calls the program “Amber’s Cozy Caps,” named after Amber Schad, a former patient who developed a love of hats after leukemia treatment caused her hair to fall out. So far, the group has produced hundreds of caps – too many to count.
One of Kendall’s current patients, Vaiju Sisodia, who is being treated for leukemia, recently joined the knitting group. A beginning knitter, Sisodia said she was inspired to help fellow patients and find a way to pass the time while she was in the hospital for treatment.
“It helps to provide a lot of different types of caps,” Sisodia says. “And I’m learning something, too.”
Kendall always brings extra knitting needles and yarn and gives on-the-spot lessons even to people who have never knitted before.
“The Knitting Circle supports a healthy work environment by providing a way to relieve stress and do something positive for our patients at the same time,” Kendall says. “I have really enjoyed meeting staff from so many different departments. Volunteers from area churches, community groups and a number of cancer survivors also contribute hats to the project.”
The UMMC Knitting Circle meets on the first Wednesday of the month from noon to 2 p.m. in the University of Maryland Medical Center. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, contact Trisha Kendall at 410-328-5420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.