She looked everywhere. It's gone. "Mickey," the faded grey but cherished blanket that has soaked up rivers of tears and given her 15-month-old son unbridled love and comfort through countless owies, boo boos and restless nights is lost. It’s an anguish known only to parents who have dug through dumpsters, searched playgrounds by flashlight and retraced steps like bloodhounds looking for their child's cozy, comforting companion.
Kadence figured her son Raleigh’s prized blanket was lost somewhere inside Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital where he has spent so much of his life – all of it with his Mickey blanket. 10 days have passed and she has even less assurance the treasured blanket will be found. “I went to seven stores and scoured the internet looking for a replacement. They don’t make it anymore,” she sighs. “I found one similar in blue, but it didn’t work. He knew it wasn’t his Mickey.”
Passing by the front lobby late Sunday evening, she inquires again. The security officer double-checks the lost and found. No luck. The COVID-19 screener emails the director of housekeeping who suggests contacting the linen service.
Every day is laundry day in a 259-bed hospital with multiple surgery suites, an always-open Emergency Center and a kitchen with 24-hour room service. “We launder 7,825 pounds of Johns Hopkins All Children’s bed linens, blankets, towels, surgical scrubs, shower curtains and mops a day in our plant in Safety Harbor,” says Mirta Sylva, onsite linen manager for the hospital’s laundry vendor located 20 miles north of St. Petersburg. She alerts the plant manager there who oversees the cleaning of 85,350 pounds of dirty laundry a day.
Her 5:03 a.m. email reply to the COVID-19 screener contains the good news. Mickey is found and on his way back. Sylva is about to have an especially rewarding morning. “I usually never get to meet the children,” she says before handing over the freshly washed blanket to the once teary-eyed little boy who immediately nuzzles his dear friend.
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