Now more than ever, Independence Blue Cross recognizes the invaluable role that nurses play in caring for our families and communities. To show our appreciation, we are honoring outstanding nurses in our region through the second annual Celebrate Caring campaign. As part of the campaign, we’re highlighting how our winners and honorees are making a difference in the community through compassion and superior care.
Eddie Welsh will never forget the day three years ago when one of his patients was being discharged and had no clothes to wear home.
“It was raining outside, and he was literally being sent home in paper scrubs,” said Eddie, a registered nurse at Jefferson Frankford Hospital. “While you’re here at the hospital, we feed you, we shelter you, we give you medication and take care of you, but then we let you leave without any clothes. I was so embarrassed.”
Then and there he decided to do something. He searched the hospital for an unused room and began to fill it with clothes he collected and even bought himself. The hospital’s maintenance people brought some bins and the stash quickly grew. “I didn’t ask permission,” Eddie joked. “I figured my boss would either love it or fire me.”
Thankfully, his boss loved the idea. The collections, which he dubbed Project Cotton, quickly grew and people from all over the hospital began donating clothes. Project Cotton is now in Jefferson hospitals throughout the region, but Eddie doesn’t want to stop there. His hope is that every hospital and trauma center in the United States adopts the idea.
“Patient reactions to Project Cotton have been overwhelming,” said Eddie. “When I give someone clothes, their whole face changes. Something is lifted. Some people even cry when I tell them the clothes are theirs to keep. I get letters from people thanking me, telling me what an unbelievable difference I made.”
Going Above and Beyond
Eddie estimates that in three years Project Cotton has provided more than 10,000 pieces of clothing for patients.
“Ed gives his all to his patients,” said his nominator April Draine Nicholson. “He embodies the exemplary character nurses should strive to be through his total commitment to the field of nursing.”
Expanding His Impact
Eddie recently founded a nonprofit organization to help take his vision national and eventually global. “There is nothing more rewarding than watching someone who is injured or sick get better and leave the hospital with pride and dignity,” said Eddie.