Health Net's Knitting Nurses, to right: Irene Kreiger, Sharon Dunn, Patty Bateman, Sheryl Lane and Melanie Westrick.

Health Net's Knitting Nurses Help Babies

Nurses at Health Net Health Plan of Oregon, Inc., put in a lot of work recently to provide coverage for the littlest patients at two downtown Portland hospitals. The company is a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT).

Coverage in this case doesn’t refer to PPO, HMO or other health plans that are typically offered by Health Net. Rather, these Tigard, Ore., employees created hats for low birth weight and premature babies and donated them to the NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) at Emanuel and Doernbecher children’s hospitals.

“Coverage for their tiny heads is extremely important,” said Sharon Dunn, care manager in the Medical Management department. “Hats are essential to helping NICU babies maintain their body heat so they can develop and grow.”

Since October, 12 nurses have met weekly during their lunch hour to knit and crochet the tiny hats. Recently, they delivered 145 hats – each carefully tucked into a plastic sandwich bag to keep it clean.

The knitting nurses created their masterpieces from a palate of colors (not just pink and blue) and a variety of designs. Those that did not know how to knit, learned from their colleagues, and each supported one another.

They were helped by several employees’ mothers who sent in handmade hats, and an employee who made hats on a loom with her six-year-old daughter.

Why did Health Net's Medical Management department take on this project?

“The main reason is, nurses like to serve,” explained Dunn. “We like to do something to help other people. This is a chance for Health Net to help parents of NICU babies realize that there are others standing with them, supporting them in helping their little ones stay warm and grow. It is also a chance for the hospitals to see that we are part of their team.”

“And, besides, the project gave us a way to stay connected to each other because we had a common goal,” added Sheryl Lane, a Health Net nurse. “We laughed a lot, we got to know our co-workers better and we were able to help someone outside of our regular jobs.”

Employees from other departments have asked to join the weekly lunchtime knitting sessions. In February, the group will create caps for children who lost their hair due to chemotherapy and radiation.

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Grama says ... on Saturday, Jan 9 at 5:36 PM

As a grama of three special needs premies, I would like to thank you for you love and caring of these little struggling souls, God bless you all for all you do.

Jody says ... on Wednesday, Jan 6 at 3:27 PM

Thank you ladies for this very important contribution to the littlest ones. My twins were born early, 26 years ago and they each had a hand knit hat to wear in the NICU. I know that this was a great help in their growth and ability to come home.

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