It didn’t take more than two minutes for the first shout of Bingo! to ring through the Chromalloy American Kidney Center at WashU. The yearly Bingo event was held at all three dialysis shifts, 7:45 am, 10:45 am, and 2 pm, on December 21 and 22, 2016.
“This is a once-a-year event that the patients really look forward to, playing the game and winning the small prizes,” says Brenda Bingel, RN, MSN, Nurse Administrator, who organized this year’s event.
Brenda had previously put out a call for donations for the bingo prizes, such as large print crossword puzzled books, seek-and-find books, soaps, lotions, candles, gloves, jams and jellies. Each patient also received a small overnight-type bag, the perfect size to tote blankets, books, etc. to their dialysis sessions.
The event has been going on “for at least 14 years, as long as I have been here,” Brenda says. Actually, we have traced the tradition back to Jean Audrain, Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator in the kidney center. Jean, who recently celebrated her 35th year with the division, confesses that she started the first patient Bingo sometime in the 80s and that dialysis technician Paul Roberson (who also is still here) was probably the first Bingo Caller. “Back then,” Jean says, “we didn’t have a PA system so we used a Karaoke device!”
At one of the Bingo sessions this year, Bob Bianchi served as the Bingo Caller. Bob’s mother Rose Bianchi was one the dialysis patients playing Bingo. Rose happens to be the founder of the home health care program The Sick and Elderly Program of the Hill. The volunteer program provides medical equipment and supplies – free of charge – to the residents of “the Hill” neighborhood in St. Louis. Running the program is a family affair. Rose is Chairwoman of the Board, her husband John Bianchi, Sr. is President, their daughter Debbie is Vice-President and sons Bob, John and James are on the foundation’s board. The program is funded by donations and the proceeds of their annual Ravioli Dinner fundraiser.
The generosity of the Bianchi foundation extends beyond the Hill, and often helps the dialysis patients at Chromalloy. Brenda says, “They [the Bianchis] have helped a couple of patients with medical equipment on very short notice, delivered the equipment here for the patient’s convenience. All equipment is free and comes with tons of smiles. Mr. and Mrs. Bianchi are just so open and giving … they will make you feel happy and blessed no matter what your circumstances are.”
Thanks to all who participated in the Bingo event. We hope the tradition continues for many years to come!