With Restrictions on Visiting the Hospital, a Lovely Letter the Next Best Thing for Families

“You can’t have flowers in hospital, so I drew you some.” Klaaske “Oma” Van Der Kaap with the letter from her granddaughter. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS

 

In these days of email, voicemail and text messages, there’s something really lovely about getting a letter, isn’t there?

At the entrance to BRHS now you’ll find a special mailbox where you can leave letters, cards and any other letter-sized well-wishes to current inpatients. We will personally deliver all letters received before 12 noon to patients that same day.

You know, pencil and ink on an actual piece of paper, the unique and unmistakable scrawl of a loved-ones handwriting, the anticipation of opening the envelope…

It was a joy that Klaaske “Oma” Van Der Kaap was delighted to experience when she received a letter from her granddaughter, Caitlin, recently.

Oma was an inpatient at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS) earlier this month.

With COVID-19 regulations restricting the number of people that can visit patients, and prohibiting flowers, it is a tough time for patients and the families that love them and want to be with them.

 

For Oma’s family, the limit of one essential visitor per day meant family members had to roster who could visit her and who couldn’t, a heartbreaking task.

And when she learned that she wouldn’t be permitted to bring or send flowers, Oma’s granddaughter found a creative solution – a handwritten letter with a drawing of flowers.

“It was so lovely to get a letter,” Oma said last week as she prepared to go home.

The letter had pride of place beside her bed all week, a conversation starter for the nurses and other patients that passed through.

The smile on Oma’s face as she showed her the letter gave BRHS Patient Liaison Officer Vicki Gillick an idea.

“With the strict limits on visiting at the moment, wouldn’t it be great if we could make it easier for families and friends to send letters to patients?” Vicki asked.

And so they have.

At the entrance to BRHS now you’ll find a special mailbox where you can leave letters, cards and any other letter-sized well-wishes to current inpatients.

(It’s not the red Australia Post mailbox, but the grey and orange one close to the main entrance – look for the sign that says “Inpatient Mail Only.”)

You won’t have to be screened to enter the hospital, and your letter won’t count as a visit to the patient. And Vicki will personally deliver all letters received before 12 noon to patients that same day.

“Seeing how thrilled Oma was reminded me how lovely it is to receive a letter,” Vicki said. “It’s something real and tangible you can hold in your hands, read over and over again, and keep beside the bed.”

Vicki is encouraging anyone with a friend or family member that is currently an inpatient at BRHS to put pen to paper, and stop by the hospital to drop them a letter or card in the special patient mail box at the front entrance.

“It’s just a really nice way to stay in touch, at a time when that is more important than ever.”