On the nurses station for outpatient infusion at Providence Portland Medical Center is a collection of more than two dozen dolls. Each one is unique, and they have to be, because each one has a real-life counterpart.
For two years, Karen Epperly, RN, has been making crochet dolls and animals to try and bring joy to patients. She would rotate them out each month, but when she started making nurse dolls, they were an instant hit. The collection kept growing.
Her co-workers started requesting their own dolls to join the group. There are currently 27 dolls – and counting – on display every day.
“Even nurses that float to our floor want dolls,” Karen says.
Karen wanted to show how much admiration she has for her co-workers, so each doll is crafted to honor each person with fun hairstyles and festive clothing.
“We love our patients, and this group I work with are just the best people, as well as nurses, that I’ve ever been with,” Karen says.
The reaction from patients also makes the ongoing project a pleasure for Karen. Many patients will stop, look and try to identify which doll is made for which nurse.
“Patients come in and they take a minute to not be sick… and it makes their day and it makes a difference to them,” Karen says.
Karen has been crocheting since the fourth grade. Growing up in Nebraska, she says it’s just something you learn as a child. She has no intention of stopping anytime soon, whether it’s new dolls for new nurses or just special requests for special patients.
“I think the patients are wonderful people that teach us a lesson on how to live better lives. So it’s my gift to them,” Karen says.
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