It’s easy to get lost at Baton Rouge General’s Bluebonnet location. The campus is a maze of large buildings, winding hallways and important-looking medical instruments around every turn. In a place that looks so understandably scientific and sterile, personal touches go a long way.
Step inside the hospital’s Healing Boutique, and the mood shifts palpably.
With warm lighting and cozy furnishings, it feels like accidentally wandering into someone’s living room rather than a wing of a hospital. The shelves and racks are full of fun mugs, pillows and jewelry, and smiling clerks offer to help shoppers with anything they might need.
While The Healing Boutique is full of gifts, it was truly created to bring comfort and ease to those battling serious illnesses. It stocks items to help patients look and feel their best when and where they need it most—right inside the walls of the hospital after receiving a tough diagnosis or treatment.
The shop recently celebrated its first year in business, but manager and buyer Shelley Nydegger says it has been in the works much longer. Hospital staff dreamt for years of a boutique aimed at cancer patients. There was high demand for specialty products and gifts, and the staff wanted to help those who spend large amounts of time in the hospital.
“When we came up with a space big enough to house the Healing Boutique, we thought it was the right time, especially with the Pennington Cancer Center here,” Nydegger says. “Most of our customers are patients of the hospital and they see doctors here, so this is very convenient for them.”
The boutique staff asked Baton Rouge General doctors, therapists and patients for their opinions on what patients needed most. After months of building up the inventory, the shop now focuses on going the extra mile, ordering specialty items doctors recommend to their patients and even delivering the products right to patients’ rooms.
The shop also carries a host of decor and non-medical goods, focusing on mental and emotional healing just as much as physical.
But it’s not just the store’s products that provide comfort—it’s the connections patients build with the boutique staff.
The Healing Boutique, for example, offers custom wig fittings for patients who have lost or are losing their hair. It’s already a difficult experience, but patients often worry the wigs will not look real.
So store employee Kayleigh Hidalgo decided to sometimes wear her own synthetic wig during patient consultations. She will typically reveal her own hair later in the meeting to show how realistic the wig appeared on her. It helps ease customers’ worries, she says.
The boutique even stays open on weeknights and weekends to ensure patients have a chance to come in whenever they need to.
It’s this attention to detail—and ultimately, the compassion for clients—that makes the Healing Boutique a cherished resource.
“It’s easily accessible in a community of care,” says William Russel, an oncologist at the Pennington Cancer Center. “To have it here on campus is a very nice thing, and it’s been a very positive thing for our patients.” brgeneral.org
EASE MY TROUBLES
A few specialty items for patients
1. Prevention Mouth Rinse: Prevents blisters and sores, common side effects of chemo.
2. Compression stockings: Improve blood flow and prevent clotting. Neuropathy and blood clotting are common in patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
3. The Original Chimes Ginger Chews: One of the boutique’s most popular anti-nausea items.
4. Care & Wear port-access shirt: Made for those who have implanted ports in their chests. Zippers are sewn onto both sides of the shirt for easy access to the ports.
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.