St. Mary's Adds Donor Flag and Wall
In October, the organ donation committee at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison celebrated two of its biggest accomplishments to date — a donor wall and flagpole that honor all those who selflessly gave the gift of life. The additions were unveiled at a ceremony on October 10 that featured Gary Einerson, a transplant recipient whose wife, Sandi, was also an organ donor.
For several years, committee members talked to administrators about the possibility of a flagpole and wall, but budget numbers were too tight. Finally, intensive care unit (ICU) nurses Nicole Roberts, RN, BSN, and Erin Loftus, RN, BSN, and operating room nurse Becky Meinholz, RN, BSN, were successful in their efforts.
“We’ve always felt like this hospital needed something to honor people who were organ donors,” says Becky, who advocated for the wall. “Additionally, there were many staff members who weren’t aware that we supported organ donation here.”
The telescoping flagpole is in a garden at St. Mary’s, which lies just outside a glass walkway. Now, to honor a patient becoming an organ donor, the family is brought to the flagpole as the patient is wheeled into the operating room. A chaplain reads a passage, the Donate Life flag is raised on the flagpole, and the patient’s family is encouraged to stay in the garden for as long as they like before leaving the hospital. The flag is up for two days before being lowered.
“The flag honors the family, but it also raises a lot of awareness,” says Nicole, who worked with Erin to advocate for the flagpole. “That walkway on the inside of the building that overlooks the flagpole is traveled by a lot of visitors. It gets people thinking and asking questions and talking to their families about organ donation.”
The donor wall is located along the glass walkway and features a “tree of life” with a trunk that transitions from blue to purple — symbolizing the transfer of life from one person to another. The orange fruit hanging on the tree pays homage to the orange dot found on organ donors’ licenses.
“It really is amazing and we are truly proud of it,” says Becky.