April 4, 2022

These Animal Themed PPE and Stickers Reduced Anxiety in Pediatric Patients

These Animal Themed PPE and Stickers Reduced Anxiety in Pediatric Patients

Images courtesy of Karen MacDonald/Healthmark

The healthcare industry in Detroit, Michigan has been through a lot over the past couple of years. It was one of the first and hardest-hit areas of the pandemic and the effects of the virus can still be felt throughout the region. 

But one husband-and-wife team from Detroit set out to make the healthcare world just a little bit brighter, with a line of colorful, animal-themed personal protection equipment (PPE) and stickers designed specifically for pediatric patients. Karen MacDonald, who is the Specialty Apparel Designer for Healthmark Industries, a Fraser, MI-based healthcare products company, teamed up with Avanti Press and Fathead, two Detroit-area companies to bring the program to life. 

Specifically designed for CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, the PPE and stickers are helping pediatric patients during their hospitzation.  The stickers can be used by pediatric patients on everything from IV bags to poles to pumps to PICC line sleeves, while the PPE includes colorful, animal-themed scrub caps that provide a more welcoming environment for the youngest of patients and their families. In a world of masking and high stress, it’s comforting to know that kids can still see things they will always recognize: their favorite animals. 

Detroit Companies Working Together

MacDonald explains that she was first inspired to develop the line after meeting a representative from Avanti Press at a licensing show a few years ago. She was familiar with the work they were doing in animal-themed cards and knew that Avanti was also based in the Detroit area. 

“We both thought it would be an ideal partnership, particularly for PPE items Healthmark can customize,” she explained. “Healthmark had been looking for something that would resonate with children and children's hospitals in particular.” 

Additionally, Healthmark has also worked with Fathead in the past, so they invited both companies to work with them on a pilot program at CS Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We all liked the idea of working together and all being from the Detroit area,” MacDonald added. 

Image: CS Mott Children’s Hospital

It’s the Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference

The program was launched at CS Mott Children’s Hospital, a pediatric facility known for providing specialized, comprehensive care to children for some of the most specialized disorders, including congenital heart disease, pediatric brain tumors, childhood cancers, diabetes, organ transplants, genetic disorders, and many other conditions affecting young people. MacDonald explained that the program was an initial test run implemented with input from actual pediatric patients, family and staff members—all at no cost to the hospital. 

The colorful PPE has been a welcome addition for the pediatric nurses at the hospital. “They are welcome distractions and easy conversation starters,” MacDonald notes. In fact, staff from the adult hospital saw the printed scrub caps and asked to order some for their teams too. Additionally, the stickers—which can be placed anywhere from IV bags to poles to pumps—have been distributed at the hospital as well as several outpatient clinics and provide a fun distraction for patients and families. 

“Kids seem to enjoy seeing the different animals on the walls, ceiling, and floor,” comments MacDonald. “The frogs direct families to the frog desk on the fourth floor, and the silly dog photos seem to be a favorite. We’ve gotten lots of comments from patients and families that they love the images.”


Images courtesy of Karen MacDonald/Healthmark

The Impact of Anxiety

While it might seem like an incredibly little thing, a small act like a colorful sticker or an entertaining scrub cap can make a big difference for young patients. 

One of the hardest parts about caring for the pediatric population is that anxiety, like in adults, can be associated with negative health outcomes. Children especially may not be able to process or understand their anxious feelings or thoughts, so programs such as this are designed to redirect their thoughts or get them talking or laughing, all of which can help manage anxiety. 

“At C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, youth may present with pre-existing anxiety that impacts their care or may develop anxiety due to their physical illness or the challenges of experiencing a debilitating health issue,” MacDonald explains. 

Fortunately, along with programs such as the stickers and colorful scrub caps, the hospital also has a team dedicated to supporting the emotional and mental well-being of patients. The team includes,

  • Child Life specialists
  • Social workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Spiritual care professionals
  • Behavioral health nurses. 

The hospital also offers music therapy, art therapy, pet therapy, age-appropriate play opportunities and activities in patient rooms and activity rooms, a hospital school program to help patients stay as caught up as possible with their schoolwork, a Lego robotics program, a therapeutic gaming program, and special events.

The stickers and scrub caps have made a difference for both patients and families and MacDonald notes that parents appreciate any gesture that will brighten a child’s experience when they are anxious. “It makes a world of difference,” commented one mom of a pediatric patient. 

Go to the top of page