If you have ever spent time in the hospital, whether you are sick with a disease, had surgery or were even there visiting someone you love, you know it isn’t a fun place. It’s full of Doctor’s that you wait to see to get the latest news, Resident’s that run in and tell you they hope the doctor will be in soon with the latest news and nurses that come in all the time at all hours to fetch, change and medicate you. It’s scary, lonely and exhausting. But, what if you were in the hospital and it was your birthday? And, what if your life were celebrated on that one day by the Doctor’s, Residents and Nurses who have been caring for you? Welcome to Cupcake Man Project, where life is celebrated if you happen to have to be in the hospital on your birthday.
The Life of a Resident
As a Resident in a hospital, one of the first things you are taught when you look at a chart is to look at the Date of Birth. It becomes a habit over time as you move from Residency to becoming a Doctor.
Niraj Mehta was that resident, looking at his patients chart when he realized it was that patient’s birthday. So, he went downstairs to the cafeteria and bought a cupcake and took it to him and sang Happy Birthday to him. By the end of the song, everyone was in tears. The realization that this one simple gesture, that cost less than $3, could make a difference in a patients hospital stay and recovery and in the relationship that he had with his Doctor was like a lightbulb going off and Dr. Mehta realized this was the type of compassionate connection he wanted to create and Cupcake Man Project was born.
Cupcake Man Project
The concept of the Cupcake Man Project is simple. For $3 a birthday, the patient receives a cupcake, a homemade birthday card and a helium balloon. Dr. Mehta presented his proposal to the board of Ben Taub and it was accepted, and just like that, this innovative project was put into place.
The Cupcake Man Project is made up of a team of people. It starts in the IT department, where they run a list every morning of every patient that is in Ben Taub Hospital. That list is coordinated through dietary for those patients that might have dietary restrictions, such as soft foods only or diabetes. The balloons are blown up in house with helium tanks and the greeting cards are made by volunteers. At 10 am, Dr. Mehta and his students go and meet at the nurses stations with their cupcakes, balloons and cards.
The team walks into the room and Dr. Mehta does a routine that includes the nurses and the Resident in charge and sometimes even the Doctor in charge of the patient, all the while making the patient feel incredibly special and loved on their birthday. This is the one day where the patient and the staff feel as if they are one. The family is involved, the patient doesn’t feel sick and the staff feels like they know have touched the patients life and the families lives in a way that doesn’t happen much in the medical field anymore.
The future of Cupcake Man Project is to expand Nationwide, and it is easy to implement. They want to provide scholarships to medical schools and continue to show that;
Empathy and humility really matter and inspire people.
And, Cupcake Man Project is doing just that.