Winnie the Pooh, Charlie Brown and the Little Mermaid are just a few of the familiar faces lining the halls of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant unit at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
These comforting characters are the handiwork of Registered Nurse Cassie Torkelson, RN. For the past year, Cassie has been brightening the unit with colorful murals straight out of a storybook. Every wall and window is brought to life with paintings of trees, animals, cartoons and seasonal images.
“The drawings make the unit look less sterile and help create imagination and wonder,” Cassie said. “They give a slight distraction from what is going on around us.”
For children experiencing health problems, seeing and helping with the artwork allows them to feel like a kid rather than a patient.
“I think the kids have fun and enjoy walking around the unit to see the art,” she said. “Sometimes they will help or their siblings will help, and that's a lot of fun.”
But the paintings aren't just for the patients. Caring for children with serious medical needs also weighs heavily on the hearts of staff, parents and family members. Bringing a little color and joy into that environment can lift people’s spirits and provide them with strength.
“If I get just one smile, that is more than enough for me,” Cassie said.