“Remember Me” Program: Bridging the Gap Between Hospital and School

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A major burn injury during childhood interrupts normal school experiences and friendships. The recovery period is difficult for patients and classmates. Recognizing the important role of school-related social networking during convalescence, the “Remember Me” program was initiated to keep the patients in touch with peers while hospitalized. The purpose of this study was to evaluate program effectiveness in school-aged children (K-8) who sustained burn injuries involving > 20% TBSA. The program was introduced to patients meeting enrollment criteria. After a signed release by the legal guardian, the child’s residential school was contacted and oriented to the program. A Remember Me tool kit (program instructions, a teddy bear and a large, postage-paid return envelope) was forwarded to the school. The bear was positioned in the patient’s seat at school for the duration of the child’s hospitalization. Placed with the bear was an envelope to collect classmate’s letters, cards, photos, and other forms of communication, which were forwarded to the patient. The process was completed by a survey that assessed patient/parent/school satisfaction to gauge the utility of the program. Thirty patients (mean age, 8.4 years) from 18 states participated in the Remember Me program. The children had burn injuries involving approximately 44% TBSA. The mean length of hospitalization was 52.4 days. One hundred percent of the patients received a response from classmates as a result of this program. A survey sent to the parents of the child indicated that 100% judged the program to be useful. The Remember Me program was effective at maintaining communication between the burned child and his or her classmates during lengthy hospital stays. The program was overwhelmingly popular with not only the children treated, but also their parents, teachers, and classmates.

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