When a hospital stay extends past six months, it can be hard to keep a patient thinking positively. Especially so on special days like birthdays. So, when Mr. Boyd, who has been in University of Maryland Medical Center’s in-patient Cardiac Progressive Care Unit for more than 250 days, had a birthday coming up, the unit staff knew they wanted to do something special.
The team planned a surprise birthday party for weeks, raising money amongst themselves for decorations, food, and of course, a birthday cake. They also invited Mr. Boyd’s friends and family to join in the party.
On the day of the surprise party, the interdisciplinary team decked out the conference room with tropical-themed décor. They even put together a photo booth area. Social worker Sarah Downs explains, “We put together a photo booth with props and a background. I brought a Polaroid camera to take instant photos so we can put together a scrapbook for Mr. Boyd with pages from each of the team members.”
The team came together to purchase more gifts for Mr. Boyd, including a foot pedal exercise bike and a tablet; items that will keep him busy and active while in the hospital.
After all the planning, the only thing left was to get Mr. Boyd to the conference room without ruining the surprise. Under the ruse that they were taking him on a walk outside, unit nurses brought Mr. Boyd to the conference room. Upon seeing everyone gathered in the room decorated for his birthday, he was truly blown away, repeating, “They got me good, they all got me!”
After the initial surprise, Mr. Boyd took pictures with the care team and his friends and family. He remarked, “Thank you to the team. They are all really special to me.”
Then, he began to list and point to the team members that he feels close to, but it became clear that he would end up listing everyone in the room. The surprise was filled with emotion, but the scene quickly became that of a party with excited chatter, laughter, and friends enjoying each other’s company.
By throwing this surprise party, the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit far surpassed expectations for a patient they have formed a special bond with. As interim nurse manager Julie Landon puts it, “He has really become a part of the family.”