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Nampa nurse helps patients leave hospital with dignity

Celeste Benedict started a program to make sure all patients have clothes they can wear home after a stay in the hospital.

BOISE - Celeste Benedict is a nurse at St. Luke's Nampa Medical Center, and she's a hero in more ways than one.

She started something unique at the hospital that is catching on at St. Luke's campuses all across the Treasure Valley. It's called the Patients' Clothes Closet.

Benedict noticed a need for some of her patients.

"They come in through the emergency room and their clothes have to be cut off them, or they come in in just their underwear, or soiled clothing, or they come in with lice," Benedict explained.

When they get back on their feet, these patients needed something to wear to go home in.

"Usually they go home in paper scrubs, and sometimes just a hospital gown if they don't have anything else," she said.

Benedict wanted to change that, so she started asking for clothing donations from staffers, and the clothes came rolling in.

"Once we kinda publicized it around the hospital everyone embraced it," she said "We put collection bins in all the units and employees brought clothing in to donate.

"At this point everything that has been donated has been donated by hospital employees and their families," Benedict added. "We've gotten clothes that are brand new with tags."

Everything is washed and folded by hospital workers.

"we want it to be no questions asked, so just anyone that feels like they can help someone out, they can grab what they need," Benedict said. "Just the small gesture of giving them a new shirt, or new pairs of shoes or a belt or anything that they need, they are just so appreciative and it's great to see that."

Her co-workers are so proud of her.

"I thought that was amazing, what an opportunity to help our patients in leaving here with some dignity," said nursing supervisor Kimberly Williamson. "I can imagine that they are just thrilled to be able to go home with shoes on their feet or socks, or pants, or whatever they need."

The idea is catching on at other St. Luke's locations.

"Other campuses reached out and were expressing a desire to start a clothes closet of their own," Benedict said. "It's great to see because I know the need is everywhere."

If you have clothing or shoes you'd like to donate to the Patients' Clothes Closet, just drop off your gently-used items at St. Luke's Nampa Medical Center.

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