Just the right tool helps patients recover after surgery

Carle nurses with Koff Kushions that help patients recovering from surgeryWhen registered nurses launched the idea of using something as simple as a small pillow to help their patients, they soon learned the pillow did more than just speed recovery.

“Having something support the stomach while coughing relieves pain, reduces the risk of pneumonia and supports the organs,” Amanda Barshney, RN, said about the special pillows called Koff Kushions.

Barshney and Stephanie Oates, RN, set out to prove just how much Koff Kushions would help their patients and then presented their idea to the Women’s Legacy Circle, an initiative of Carle Center for Philanthropy, for funding.

The Women’s Legacy Circle earned acclaim last month when the East Central Illinois Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized it an Outstanding Grant-Making Organization. In the past eight years, the Women’s Legacy Circle has provided more than $435,000 to advance extraordinary healthcare at Carle.

Not only do Koff Kushions reduce strain on the surgical site, but they also help patients get moving after surgery. This improves blood flow and speeds healing.

Women's Legacy Circle group photoUsed widely last year, the simple pillows made a big difference for a complex challenge: the use of some drugs for pain control. Koff Kushions allow for a safer pain control without the risk of addiction and misuse.

A surprise feature of the pillow is space to show details about how recovery works.  

“Doctors, residents and nurses can sketch right on the pillow to help the patient understand what’s happening,” said Jessica Maberry, RN.

That simple step matters.

“It puts a patient and the family at ease when they know what to expect before and after the surgery,” Maberry said.

Patients even want staff to autograph the pillow like people sign casts on broken arms and legs.

“Seeing so many people get behind this idea was great,” Maberry said.

“These pillows connect patients with nursing staff and providers. They help them recover so they can get back to their life.”

To help to learn more, visit carle.org/give