Several years ago when Mimi Waterman was having a small cyst removed, the surgeon carefully draped a blue cloth with a stitched, circular opening to isolate the incision area.
She smiled and told him she had a hand in making that surgical drape. In fact, she knows what goes into making those drapes, from beginning to end.
The surgical drapes are just one of the many handiwork items produced by the Vanderbilt Sewing Club, a group with a tradition of collegiality and caring stretching back to the Great Depression.
About 15 women gathered at the home of Melinda Balser, wife of Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., for their September meeting. (The photographs accompanying this story were taken at a later meeting).
Waterman had gathered discarded sheets from the Shared Laundry at Metro Center, the facility which does laundry from several hospitals, including Vanderbilt’s. Mary Ann Hash and Judy Lefkowitz took the sheets and tore them into rectangles while others in the assembly line, which began in the Balser’s living room, cut out the opening traced with a coffee can lid, pinned and ironed.
Maisie Roden, standing at the ironing board, usually is responsible for lugging the heavy sewing machines, supplies and materials to each meeting. The room hummed with conversation and laughter as the ladies worked.
Perched near the ironing board, 92-year-old Alice Bugel comes mostly to socialize these days. Like many of the group members, she was a nurse. She took her nursing experiences to the battlefields in World War II and later was long time supervisor in charge of surgical wards and recovery at the VA Hospital here. She was married to the late Harry Bugel, M.D.former chief of physical medicine and rehab at the VA.
“Being a nurse, I was able to make some of the patterns” for the items the Sewing Club produces, she said.
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