More than 40,000 patients came to the emergency room at WakeMed Cary Hospital last year, and many left in the same clothes they were wearing when they arrived.
That’s usually not a big deal – unless patients have to stay overnight.
In the wee hours, some patients might get to the hospital in pajamas. Those involved in accidents might have ripped clothing.
When it comes time to go home, some people don’t have other clothes to put on.
Beverly Lamelin realized the problem and decided she wanted to do something about it. Shortly after starting her job as a secretary at WakeMed in Cary, she volunteered to start a clothing closet for adult patients. It opened July 1.
“Sometimes when people are rushed to the hospital, they are wearing clothing that is messed up with blood or is torn and can’t be worn home,” explained Lamelin, 52, of Fuquay-Varina.
The initiative began in January when Lamelin’s supervisor, Teresa Harvey, encouraged employees to find a way to improve the hospital unit through team-building activities for staff or a special project to help patients.
“Beverly had a really innovative idea and went the extra mile to make the clothes closet happen,” said Harvey, a manager at WakeMed.
Inspired by the clothes closet at the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, Lamelin completed the necessary paperwork and found a suitable location to keep clothing – a corner of a large storage area. Then she got someone to build shelves and install bars to hang clothes.
Lamelin asked friends and nurses to donate old clothing items. Thrift stores also chipped in.
“I’ve been impressed by the outpouring of love and affection for people who have supported the clothes closet,” Lamelin said.
Word of the program spread quickly through the hospital, and referrals came in from the chaplain and nurses. When a 70-year-old patient arrived in pajamas, Lamelin headed to the closet and put together an outfit of green slacks, a matching shirt with pink flowers and a pink sweater.
The closet even had shoes in the correct size.
“She was so cute and kept parading up and down the hall wanting everyone to see how beautiful she looked in her clothes,” Lamelin said of the patient. “I get a warm and fuzzy feeling when people are able to get clean clothes to wear home.”
When Lamelin isn’t volunteering with the closet, she helps with a variety of other WakeMed events, including stroke clinics and golf tournament fundraisers.
Her favorite is working the WakeMed booth at Cary’s Spring Daze and helping children make clay spoons they can use at home as a reminder to eat healthy foods.
“I like to be involved and doing something,” said Lamelin, who attends Hope Community Church.