Trident Health System June 20, 2016

School may be out for summer, but the reading doesn't end for all children. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Shirley Schultz arrives at Summerville Medical Center (SMC) with a bag filled with books. She heads up to the second floor prepared to spend a few hours reading to children admitted to the Pediatric unit. Schultz, a former school librarian, came to Summerville from Asheville, North Carolina after retiring in 2015. It didn't take long before Schultz decided she wanted to give back to children in the community. But how?

She approached SMC CEO Lisa Valentine and asked what she could do with books. Schultz, Valentine, and leaders from the Pediatric Program decided to pilot a reading program for children admitted to the hospital. The program kicked off earlier this year. "At first we weren't certain how it would work," said Craig Duncan, RN and Director of Pediatrics at SMC. "But it gets lots of positive responses from families and patients." Schultz brings books for patients of all ages- from picture books with thick pages to books about animals or sports. She checks with the nurse to determine the patient's age, and only brings in the book she intends on reading. Depending on the patient's age, Schultz will read to the patient or allow the patient to select a book, giving parents the chance to relax and listen to the story, too. Great care is taken to ensure the books are in good condition and the content is appropriate. Regardless of age, Schultz feels there is a subject of interest for everyone. "Everyone likes to read," says Schultz. "If not, you just haven't found the right book yet."

At the end of the visit, Schultz often gives the book to the patient. She spends her time outside of the hospital looking for discounted books in excellent condition that she can give to patients. Schultz is a program of one, but wants to continue reading to patients on the Pediatric unit as long as she can. Duncan is proud of the program. "This is a volunteer who recognized something that is useful that has made an impact on families and patients."