Thrive by IU Health

April 08, 2020

Rainbows in the emergency department

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Rainbows in the emergency department

There’s a trend that’s reaching around the world, brightening up days with art and words of encouragement. It started with children in Italy putting rainbows on their windows during quarantine and has made its way to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital Emergency Department.

The local rainbow project started a week ago when IU Health Bloomington Hospital Director of Emergency Services Katie Howe, RN, MSN, CNML, FNE was speaking with her cousin who is a third-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School.

Her cousin wanted to help, but she wasn’t sure what to do other than self-isolate at home with her family. She’s even teaching virtually, which doesn’t have the same hands-on feeling as being in the classroom.

“In an effort to do something that makes a difference, she and I determined it would be helpful if some of the students could color rainbow pictures to help support our frontline emergency department team members,” said Howe. “She loved the idea and started with Lakeview students in her neighborhood.”

The students put their finished art in the teacher’s mailbox, and then Howe picked them up so she could place them on display. Team members have also started to add drawings and words of encouragement from their children. As Howe said, “It’s a way our kids can feel like they are helping too!”

Rainbow doors

The art was strategically displayed at the emergency department entrance for all to see (pictured to the right).

“Our ED team says this has made all the difference when they are entering work, it makes them smile,” said Howe. “It gives them strength to do the work ahead of them for their shift and give amazing care to our patients and each other.”

And the rainbow art is just starting at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. It’s Howe’s hope that as more students and children get involved, the more their art and messages can spread across the hospital.

Riley Hospital for Children has also seen an increase in rainbows as well and the team is, “encouraging others across the system to join the effort and put up a rainbow at home, in car windows, in workspaces (be it hospital, office-based, or remote) along with an encouraging message of hope and support.” Read the Riley Hospital for Children article and see their video here.