For 8-year-old Kentric Stubbs Robinson, it was pay day.
“You've been keeping up with your vital signs?” Batson Children's Hospital child life specialist Tiffany Key asked the bone marrow transplant patient. That and mouth care, showering and a chest X-ray all got nods from Kentric at $5 a nod.
“Did you exercise?” Another nod, another $5 in BMT Bucks.
For patients battling diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia with bone marrow transplants, earning a special currency, BMT Bucks, keeps them getting up out of bed when they don't feel like it and making healthy choices in dealing with the side effects of transplants.
Each bone marrow transplant patient at Batson Children's Hospital participating in the BMT Bucks program gets paid in the currency, which features that patient's photo.
The paper “money” comes in denominations of $1, $5 and $10, and bills bear the photos of the patients banking the new-found “cash.” Once a week, patients get to spend their healthy paychecks at the BMT Bucks store, which is stocked with each patients' favorite toys and treats funded by gifts of money, toys and gift cards to the hospital.
Key counted out the BMT bucks from Kentric's weekly chart. “$40, $45, $50, $55.” All the way to $100.
Dressed in a kid-sized version of a doctor's set of scrubs and a white coat, Kentric was ready to wheel and deal at the BMT Bucks store. After careful consideration, Kentric spent some of his cash on a toy doctor's kit to go with his scrubs and banked the rest. Key promised to get him a piggy bank for the rest of his BMT Bucks.
Robinson exchanges his hard-earned BMT Bucks for a toy in Batson Children's Hospital's BMT Bucks store.
The program is a way Child Life specialists can encourage young patients to get up and around when that's the last thing they feel like doing.
“Bone marrow transplant patients get chemo prior to transplants,” Key said, “and they can feel sick from the transplant. Mouth sores, pain, nausea and fatigue are common. They are not always going to feel like getting up and walking around, taking a shower or brushing their teeth, but we want them to try. We want to help them stay strong and motivated.”
Monster High dolls hold Toni Marino's gaze. The dolls were a special request from Toni, 11, for her personal BMT Bucks store.
Toni Marino, 11, of Petal, loves Monster High, which is why her personal BMT Bucks store has plenty of them. Frankie Stein, Luna Mothews and Cleo de Nile, priced from $15 in BMT Bucks to $50, depending on the size of the play set, keep her on track.
Said mother Lacy Marino: “The BMT Bucks get her out of bed and up and going. She looks forward to shopping and even bargain shops.”
Trying to decide if she should spend her hard-earned BMT Bucks on a big Frankie Stein set, she talked it over with Key. “You know, she might go on sale later,” Key said.
Toni spent some of her $59 in BMT Bucks on dolls but decided to bank the rest for a sweeter deal later.
It's pay day for Toni Marino, 11, a participant in the BMT Bucks program at Batson Children's Hospital. Her BMT Bucks feature her photo on each bill.
“We do have sales,” Key said. “Especially going-out-of-business sales. We encourage them to spend all their BMT Bucks then, because a going-out-of-business sale means that patient is getting to go home!”
A sweet deal indeed.