Former patients make the gift of healing sleep

Melissa Varner
January 28, 2020
Katherine Leach with her sound machine
MUSC Health Heart & Vascular patient, Katherine Leach

Hospitals are LOUD, especially when you’re trying to fall asleep.

There are voices.

The incessant beeping, blipping, and whirring of machines.

Slamming doors.

Squeaky gurneys.

Bangs and thuds.

“If somebody is moving a bed and accidentally hits it on the outside, you're going to hear a bang on the wall,” said nurse Amy Polega.

The monotonous drip, drip, drip.

“You’ve got the little trickling of the IV, because that machine is not the quietest,” she continued.

And then there are the emergency alarms. “It’s super loud because we all have to hear it,” Polega explained. “Then we all go running and you’ve got a stampede of people in the hallway.”

Those are the kinds of sound that used to keep heart patient Katherine Leach awake during her stays on the fifth floor of Ashley River Tower (ART) at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Now a sound machine helps her sleep through them.

A $724.66 grant paid for the 19 sound machines – one for each bed on the acute cardiac care unit. The grant money comes from former patients who have donated to the hospital through the Giving Back program.

Each sound machine comes with 14 sounds: from crickets chirping to the low rumble of a thunderstorm. After listening to all of them with her nurse, Leach chose to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping at the sand.

“I really slept good then,” Leach said. “The waves were calming. I love water.”

She highly recommends the sound machines to future heart patients at MUSC. “Two thumbs up!” she said with a smile.

The nurses are impressed too. “I want one for home,” Polega quipped. She’s grateful to the patients whose generosity made it possible to buy the sound machines. She wants them to know their real gift is healing sleep. “Thank you. You are doing a great service to other patients and their well-being.”

About the Author

Melissa Varner