Our View: 'Angel gowns'

Mayo Clinic nurse Lynn Gaber cuts pieces from a donated wedding dress to make an "angel gown" last month at her home in Rochester. Gaber makes the gowns for infants and young children being treated at Mayo.

Mayo Clinic had a quiet celebration Wednesday to recognize the thousands of nurses who are “the glue” of the institution, as CEO Dr. John Noseworthy said in a letter to the editor this week.

"Their selflessness and service make Mayo a healing environment and a world class medical destination," he wrote.

There are countless ways that this is true, most of which will never make the paper or even be recognized by patients and families, but which give more comfort than they'll ever know.

One example of how deep the caring and compassion runs among nurses and medical staff is the “angel gown” project that's featured in the Post Bulletin today on page E1. Through the efforts of Mayo nurses Kelsey Chesney and Lynn Gaber, and others who donate and help out, they lift the spirits of parents and children with hand-crafted gowns for special occasions and mementoes.

The gowns are made from donated wedding dresses and tailored for infants and children who are receiving life-changing treatment, accommodating the tubes, wires and other needs. The gowns have gone to children for happy occasions and as a gift for families who experience tragic outcomes.

As Chesney told Post Bulletin reporter Anne Halliwell, “Sad things happen, and unfortunately we have babies that pass away that we just couldn’t save, and so we have the families pick out an angle gown, and we dress the babies in that. It’s just a special memento they can keep to remind them of their child.”

The project was inspired by the Angel Gown program of the National Coalition for Infant Health, a national program begun in 2013 to provide "comfort for bereaved families through the gift of a beautiful custom-made gown for final photos and for burial services," and to provide support resources for those families, according to their website.

What could be more meaningful than to give time and tender loving care to a child or family at the most difficult moment in their lives — in this case, with a tiny, handcrafted piece of clothing that’s enriched with love? It happens every day at Mayo and other medical centers, and it’s people such as Chesney, Gaber and many, many others who make them places of transforming kindness.

Young people think about King

A lot of student essays are written in January and February to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and to recognize Black History Month. They're a window into the thinking of young people on the life of the great African-American leader and issues of race and justice.

Amanda Rodriguez, a student at Austin's Banfeld Elementary, wrote one of the best ones this year. She'll be honored as one of three national winners later this month in an annual contest run by Hormel Foods Corp.

Congratulations to Amanda and her family and to the Hormel company, which through its contest, African-American Resource Group and community outreach aims to make a difference.

Know of someone who deserves a fist bump? Call Executive Editor Jay Furst at 507-285-7742 or send a note to furst@postbuilletin.com.

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