The Heart of the Matter

Valentine’s Day happens all year around at St. John Medical Center for cardiac and breast health patients, thanks to dedicated volunteers like Mae Chandler, Nancy Link and Janet Beutel.
“Mae has been making Heart and Breast pillows since we began sewing them back in 1979,” said Ardis Radak, President St. John Medical Center Auxiliary Board. “Mae is a beautiful seamstress and has been sewing for more than 90 years (Mae turned 98 at her last birthday, January 2011). She has sewed over 1300 pillows for us!”
Nancy and Janet have also been sewing pillows for several years. They find the work gratifying as the pillows offer physical and emotional support to patients recovering from both breast and cardiac surgeries and therapies.
“Janet even takes the time to make pillows while she is on vacation in Arizona,” continued Ardis.
The program started years ago to assist cardiac patients. “The pillows help after surgery by relieving pressure to the chest while coughing. The Auxiliary had given out thousands of pillows to heart patients,” said Ardis. “Then, a few years ago, we also started making pillows for our Breast Health Department.
“Many of our Auxiliary members have had to use both types of pillows themselves as former patients. We hope that someday we will have to make far fewer of the pillows as heart disease and breast cancer treatments improve.”
In the beginning, volunteers Peggy Jarosz and Mae Chandler were invited to a dinner attended by west side cardiologists. The need for the pillows was expressed and St. John Medical Center volunteers have been making pillows ever since.
Pillows made for cardiac patients include a lettered ribbon that reads, “From our heart to your heart.” Breast patient pillows say, “To comfort you.” We have been extremely fortunate to have some of the residents of Emerald Village in North Olmsted help stuff our pillows along with many of our Auxiliary members.
Currently, the hospital’s Auxiliary buys both the material and the stuffing. “In the past, we were fortunate to have stuffing donated, but we are now purchasing the stuffing in-house. We hope that we can find a source that can help us by donating stuffing again,” said Ardis, who may be reached at (216) 319-1355.