NASCAR To Honor Nurse Who Gives Special Teddy Bears To Coronavirus Patients

May 17, 2020

A Virginia nurse will be honored Sunday at NASCAR's "The Real Heroes 400" for her work making special teddy bears for lonely coronavirus patients.

be there bears
Bon Secours Richmond Health System

Michaelle Vaughan works in the ICU at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond, VA. She and fellow health care workers wanted to do more to help patients "who are alone, intubated, sedated, [and] couldn't have their family near them."

So, Vaughan and other nurses began creating stuffed bears that include a personalized 20-second message from family members.

The nurses recorded the messages over the phone, then transferred the audio onto an audio device that was sewn inside the bear.

"They're not able to call their family members like some of the patients on other floors," she said. "We were really kind of touched by that. It was really awful once we started to realize that that was what was happening, that we couldn't have the families by the bedside any longer… And so I started to think back on what we could do to help."

 

Vaughan said the "Be There Bears" initiative boosts the spirits of the patients and their families, as well as health care workers.

"I'm so pleased that these bears have taken off as much as they have," she said. "It's been really good for us. It's been really good for the family. It's such an incredible experience to see that we're touching lives with these little bears."

Vaughan is being honored nationally for her efforts. She'll be one of many frontline workers from all across the country to give the starting command on Sunday when NASCAR returns to the track at Darlington.

"It's blowing my mind," Vaughan said. "I don't feel like I deserve it. I don't feel like I deserve any of this attention that I've been getting, and that's just blowing my mind."

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