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Engineers and toy wagons: Mary Bridge's own 12th Man story

Posted on Jan. 30, 2015 ( comments)
engineering 12th man wagon
MultiCare Health System Engineering Department poses with 12th Man wagon and Mary Bridge patient Axel, 3.
"High five, buddy," Jason Carter says to a three-year-old patient, Axel. 

Carter, with MultiCare's Engineering Department, met Axel beneath the 12th Man flag on the main hospital campus. Axel, a Mary Bridge Children's Hospital patient, was riding in a wagon Carter helped customize with "12th Man MB' decals for the medical/surgical floor.

The wagon is blue — a departure from the fleet of 20 red wagons that typically roll around Mary Bridge. According to Carter, the best part of the project was delivering the wagons and watching patients like Axel enjoy the custom ride. 

"What gets to us is seeing the kids in a Seahawks outfit, riding in the wagon with a big smile on their face," says Carter. "Riding in that wagon is their moment. It makes us feel like we are doing something for the kids."

Getting the blue wagons

The Child Life team on the medical/surgical floor purchased the blue wagons to stand out from the fleet of 20 red wagons at Mary Bridge. Decorating the wagons for the Seahawks was an afterthought inspired by last year’s NFC Championship win.

"When we got to talking about labeling the wagons we were in Seahawks mode," Child Life Assistant Lou Ann League says. "So we called engineering to see if we could get 12th Man MB labels."

The MB in 12th Man MB stands for Mary Bridge. The medical/surgical team wears wristbands with the hashtag #12thManMB and Mary Bridge uses the hashtag on social media posts related to the Seattle Seahawks. 

But League explains the 12th Man MB concept is about much more. 

"It's been good team bonding. 12th Man MB brings us together. It brings a fun energy. It's about being a team at Mary Bridge and supporting each other," she says.

A day in the life of the engineering team doesn't always include Mary Bridge. One day can mean fixing a leaky sink at New Adventures Daycare or a patient's broken eye glasses; the next might be about removing graffiti, updating a sign, or tackling plumbing and electrical work in a new hospital room.

However, supporting Mary Bridge is where the engineers do some of their best and most fun work. Some are even known for helping the children in daycare cross the street to get to Wright Park.

"We support Mary Bridge and Child Life with whatever they need," says Engineering Mechanic Tom Summers.

Children are the priority

Facilities Clerk Lynda Gast has the same attitude. She took the call from League requesting customized wagons and didn’t hesitate to put in the order. 

"Anything for the kids gets priority," Gast says.

Seven different engineering employees — Carter and Gast, as well as Tom Summers, Jason Schwartz, Hernan Pardo, Melvin Smith and Anishwa Narayan — helped make the 12th Man MB wagons a reality. 

From unloading the wagons on the delivery dock to assembling them in the workshop, creating stickers and running to Ace Hardware for paint, the team still smiles when they talk about their work on the project. 

"When we took the wagons to the floors the nurses and Child Life team were so excited," Carter says. 

"It was a special project because we had to think outside of the box. It made it fun for us."

Team spirit

The team also smiles because they are parents, with children ranging from 11 months into their 20s. They can easily step into the shoes of a parent with a sick kid, and it compels them to help any way they can. 

Team members smile, too, because they enjoy working together. It makes them happy to collaborate on projects around MultiCare. 

"Not every person has all the answers," Summers says. "We need each other and we totally rely on each other."

Carter said projects for Mary Bridge’s young patients are a unique opportunity to work together on something with a special result.

"We're a team that works together on everything," he says. "Sorta like the Seahawks."

Posted in: General Vitals

About The Author

Jen Rittenhouse Jen Rittenhouse
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected].
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