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Published on January 07, 2019

Eduardo Hernandez and registered nurse Taylor Matchey

A perfect pair

Nurse creates scavenger hunt to brighten patient's day

Shortly after meeting Eduardo Hernandez in December 2017, registered nurse Taylor Matchey sensed his boredom. Eduardo had recently been diagnosed with leukemia and was receiving inpatient care.

"Being in the hospital is not fun," Taylor says.

Whether you're an adult or a 9-year-old, like Eduardo, there are only so many things to do: "A lot of the day, you're looking at the same four walls," Taylor says.

Searching for a solution, she put pen to paper to create a game that would meet many of Eduardo's treatment requirements, such as walking daily and problem solving, yet still be fun. The result was a scavenger hunt, which has since become a staple of Eduardo's visits.

Sometimes the clues lead him to a microwave. Then to a fish tank. Then to a computer station. Regardless of where they take him, Eduardo looks forward to the opportunity to explore and search for a frisbee or other small prize he knows is waiting for him at the end of the activity.

"I have to get all the clues first," Eduardo says.

Hunt after hunt, there is always one overarching goal: "To see him smile," Taylor says. After all, it's a small way for her to return the favor.

"Eduardo is definitely someone who every nurse wants to be paired with," Taylor says. "He's constantly laughing and cracking jokes."

Thankfully, Eduardo is spending less time in the hospital as his health continues to improve. He has progressed to treatments every other week, says his dad, Jose, and has not needed inpatient care for quite some time.

"He has so much energy now," Jose says.

Eduardo and his family are hopeful that the number of treatments he needs will continue to decline, while knowing that if Eduardo does require inpatient care again, there will be a friendly face waiting for him— clues in hand.

"For kiddos with recurring illnesses, building relationships with them is so rewarding," Taylor says. "Eduardo always remembers me, and that warms my heart."

To learn more about Pediatric Cancer Care at Gundersen, call (608) 775-2385.

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