For patients struggling with pain, ‘Unexpected Blooms’ bring welcome relief

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Flowers can be used for many things: weddings, anniversaries, birthday. But one local organization has been using flowers from those events and turning them into healing tools for people in hospital and hospice care at no cost to the patients or providers.

Jennifer Davis has been a nurse at St. Luke's for five years and said the hardest part of her job is seeing her patients struggling with pain.

"When patients are here they aren’t feeling well and they want to be home. As a bedside nurse, we try to be compassionate and show them how we can help them and what we can do to make them feel better," Davis said.

But sometimes that is easier said than done.

"Pain is typically measured on a 10-point scale anywhere from zero, being no pain, to ten, being the worst pain you can think of. And most of the patients that end up being in the hospice house are having pain in the eight, nine, and ten range. A lot of them need parental medications," Dr. Jay Riseman, St. Luke's Hospice House Medical Director, said.

That's one reason why Cameron Elliot and his wife started Unexpected Blooms. They, along with volunteers, collect and repurpose flowers from various events and deliver them to patients receiving care.

"Our whole focus is moments of kindness for patients. We know that it helps them. It helps them emotionally and mentally," Elliot said.

Davis said she can see the effect the flowers have on her patients instantly.

"Every time you come in the room, they always say ‘hey look at my flowers that my daughter sent me or my loved one sent me.’ they love making mention of it to prop them up to where they can always see them in the room. It’s always nice for us to see them too. It makes the room smell better and makes everything so much better," she said.

And it's those moments of healing that Davis said makes her job that much sweeter.

"It’s so exciting for them and its just as exciting for the nurse. You want to do everything you can to make them feel better and there is so much I can do as a nurse but when family and friends think of them and they receive flowers, it’s just so rewarding for us to see that people are caring for them as well," Davis said.