A Look at a Leader: Marge Crouch

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With so many initiatives that focus on the patients at Riley, Marge recognizes the need to care for the parents. That's why she created the parent comfort cart.

All it took was one tour for Marge Crouch—and then her life changed. In 1998, Marge toured Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, and was amazed by what she saw – specifically the two-pound babies in the NICU. Afterwards, Marge immediately began to volunteer at the NICU’s help desk, but after a few years she decided that she wanted to do even more. Inspired, Marge ultimately chose to dedicate her efforts on the parents of patients.

The result: “I chose to create the parent comfort cart,” explains Marge. “My son had previously been treated at the hospital for heart issues so I knew what it was like to spend time there as a parent. And, as help desk volunteer, I saw the parents waiting while their child was in surgery. They were scared to death, not knowing if their child would come out all right. I liked the idea of having that cart available and giving them something to do like a word search book or even having a candy bar that would take their mind off of what was happening.

It took some time to have the cart built and stock it with supplies. “We had a man design and build the cart and high schoolers paint it up to make it look like a treasure chest,” she recalls. “Then, we went throughout Indiana to solicit donations.”

Today, every item in the comfort cart is provided via donations, and Marge works tirelessly to ensure that it’s always fully stocked with everything a parent may need. Every month, Marge makes phone calls and sends emails to a variety of organizations throughout the state to contribute to the cart’s success. In addition to basic necessities like toothbrushes and combs, the comfort cart also carries decks of cards, puzzle books, magazines, and even notebooks for parents to track their child’s medical status.

With so many initiatives that focus on the patients at Riley, Marge recognizes the need to care for the caregivers. “There are times when a parent brings their child in just for tests, and the doctor decides the child needs to stay overnight. The mother only has a wallet and car keys – that’s where we come in. Our cart has shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrushes, nail clippers, candy bars, neck pillows and more. We do what we can to make parents comfortable. Some parents might be there for quite some time, while others cannot afford to buy new things for their stay. Everything on the cart is free to the parents.”

Marge also coordinates 16 volunteers to help with the comfort cart, ensuring that it rolls through the floors of Riley three days a week, visiting the floors where children are staying overnight. The cart makes its rounds, the schedule varies depending on volunteer. Juggling schedules can be a challenge, with some volunteers driving two to three hours for their shift or others taking the winter off while they retreat to Florida. But Marge always jumps in whenever there is an open time slot.

When not volunteering, Marge works full time in real estate and lives in Lawrence, IN, enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren and exploring the outdoors. She and her husband have almost bicycled across the country, with only three states remaining.

But when Marge is at the hospital, she’s focused on serving the parents, even if it’s simply providing them with a notebook so they can keep track of their child’s health. “It’s wonderful to be able to do something to help them.”

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