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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Here’s Something to Brighten Your Day

Published February 8, 2013 2:36 PM by Michael Jones

A few months ago, I read about a children’s hospital in London where the window washers are contractually obligated to dress up like superheroes as they clean the building. The hospital is Evelina Children’s Hospital, and the idea behind its design was simple: to make “a hospital that didn’t feel like a hospital.” The blog post noted the hospital’s dedication to creating “a patient experience that included touchpoints fostering a sense of inspiration and wonder – in addition to healing – for children throughout their stay.”

Apparently, window workers here in the US were taking notes, because masked heroes have recently been seen scaling the walls of children’s hospitals in both Pittsburgh, PA and Memphis, TN. Two different crews from two different window cleaning companies have joined the heroic ranks in an effort to cheer up ailing kids. Described in the ABC article as “truly heroic,” window cleaners from both crews welcome the chance to dress up again.  

“We just went there, put them on and went up,” said Steve Oszaniec, one of the costumed workers, in the ABC story about the Memphis window crew. “They [hospital staff] brought a lot of the kids to the little family room there so they could see us. It was unbelievable. They just totally forgot they were sick for a minute. They were just ecstatic about it.”

Equipped with three people, two Spiderman suits and one Captain America uniform, the American National Skyline window cleaning company employees in Memphis set out to clean up the streets as well as the windows. According to the ABC article, they “also shot silly string as they repelled up and down the 12-story hospital building for four hours to make their Spiderman takeover even more life-like.” More recently in Pittsburgh, workers from Allegheny Window Cleaning donned a Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Captain America costume to tackle their duties for the day.

Le Bonheur spokesperson, Sara Burnett, cited the benefit of “out-of-the-box therapies” like the superhero window washers as helping the children heal by allowing them to relax and take their mind off of things. With results on any number of ailments bouncing around the laboratory on a day-to-day basis, it can be a little disheartening. It’s comforting to know that certain people will go out of their way for the recipients of those test results – even if it’s just to make them smile. 

posted by Michael Jones

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