Volunteers bring smiles to Driscoll patients before surgery

Garbed in their surgical caps, 5-year-old Waylon and Driscoll Children’s Hospital Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Kevin Hopkins, MD, give a big grin before heading to the operating room.
CORPUS CHRISTI – The operating room can be intimidating, especially for children. Crafters from across the country are hoping to make the experience a little less stressful for patients at Driscoll Children’s Hospital by creating custom pediatric surgical caps with kid-friendly designs.

Auxiliary to Driscoll Children’s Hospital member Beverly Frontera said the project was inspired by an ad she saw on social media, requesting help to make caps for hospital patients in another state. She brought the idea to Driscoll’s Volunteer Services Department, who collaborated with Surgical Services, the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, and others at Driscoll to initiate the program.

It was decided they would need 1,300 caps (a 3-month supply) before they would begin distributing them to patients, so Frontera and her local sewing group got to work, promoting the need. In January, Frontera, with the help of her sewing group in the Coastal Bend and her sisters’ sewing groups in Ohio and Pennsylvania, collected enough caps to launch the program.

Garbed in their surgical caps, 5-year-old Waylon and Driscoll Children’s Hospital Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Kevin Hopkins, MD, give a big grin before heading to the operating room.
“The surgical caps are a very nice personal touch for our patients,” said Driscoll Children’s Hospital Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Kevin S. Hopkins, MD. “I think they really appreciate getting something made especially for them, and the fun designs help them to just be kids rather than patients.”

Patients get to choose the cap they want to wear into surgery and take it home with them when they leave. Child Life Specialist Megan Davila said this gives a little bit of control back to the patients.

“The caps help normalize the hospital environment for patients because they look like the nurses and physicians who will take care of them in the operating room,” said Davila.

“I love Shopkins,” 5-year-old Everleigh exclaimed, picking out her favorite patterned cap. “It’s so cute and soft.”

The program is a big hit with hospital staff and patients alike, and volunteers like Frontera get to relish the smiles brought to kids’ faces.

“I’ve always had a passion for sewing and I thought this would be great for our kids. If it can put a smile on their face during a tough time, that’s a good thing,” said Frontera.

Up to 600 surgeries are performed each month, making this project an ongoing need. The supply is dependent on community donations. To help patients at Driscoll Children’s Hospital by creating fun surgery caps, here’s what you need to get started:

  • 100% cotton fabric in a fun pattern. The most popular patterns include Disney, sports, animals, super heroes, etc. Keep in mind that young children, pre-teens and teens will be wearing the caps.
  • Cut one circle 18 ¾-inches in diameter. Make a ½-inch pocket around the edge, leaving an opening to insert the elastic. Cut a piece of elastic ¼-inch wide by 18 ½-inches long. Thread the elastic through the pocket opening and secure the ends together. Stitch the opening closed. This creates a bouffant cap.
  • The fabric can be pre-washed or not — the caps will be washed by machines here at the hospital and sealed in bags before being used in the OR. If you do decide to pre-wash the fabric, it must be washed in perfume-free and dye-free detergent.

For more information, please contact the Volunteer Services Department at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, (361) 694-5011.