A simple blue butterfly on a doorway signals a devastating loss for the people inside.
Two years ago, Richard Drew, a Clinical Nurse Educator and Besy Candray, a Unit Manager at the Misericordia Community Hospital, introduced the Early Pregnancy Loss program to the Emergency department. A woman who is less than 20 weeks pregnant and may be suffering a miscarriage is taken to a private room. Her doorway is marked with a blue butterfly—a universal symbol of early pregnancy loss.
It alerts staff to the loss and grief people are experiencing inside the room.
For Richard, the need for the program was clear.
“I sat back and looked at what populations we could do more for and realized that we have women who come in here with an early pregnancy loss and we didn’t do much for them,” he says. “We wanted to find out how we can be the most impactful for these patients and their families.”
The program doesn’t end with the ER visit.
After the woman has been medically cleared, the family is given a blue folder that contains information, such as a listing of support groups, resources and funeral information, if they want to have a service for their lost baby. It also lets women know what physical changes they can experience following a miscarriage.
“You never think that you are going to be coming to the emergency department, being told you are losing your baby,” says Richard. “We want to be able to let parents know what services are available to them and what we can do to help."
Spiritual Care staff also assist with the butterfly program. They contact the mother and the father to offer support and provide them with followup care. If the parents choose to bury or cremate their child, Spiritual Care can facilitate the connection between the family and the funeral home.
“Families are grateful to have someone go over their options with them,” says Chaplain Deborah Kirkpatrick. “They feel like they have a safe space to ask questions, have some time to think and then come back with decisions.”
The support is important, says Richard.
“This experience changes their life, it changes them. So it’s our goal to make this horrific experience a little easier.”