Spreading Holiday Cheer


t’s hard to pass Sue Wedemeier, Villa Ridge, in the halls of Mercy Hospital Washington these days without smiling. She is like a walking, talking and singing Christmas card.

Wedemeier, who works in environmental services, has decorated her cleaning cart for the holiday. It’s decked out from top to bottom and on all sides with decor that lights up, plays Christmas music and is just plain fun.

In fact, the cart is so loaded down with holiday items that some people have mistaken it for a craft cart. One person actually asked Wedemeier how much she wanted for her items.

The cart is loved by patients and co-workers alike, Wedemeier’s boss, Diane Hagedorn, said.

“It always gets a reaction,” she remarked. “It’s exciting to see what she’s going to do with it.”

“I love the cart,” one passing co-worker commented. “There’s always something to look at.”

Wedemeier, who worked at the hospital in the ’90s before leaving to  run her own cleaning service business, came back to Mercy about five years ago. But it wasn’t until sometime last year that she started decorating her cleaning cart.

“I just threw some flowers on there, and people just perked up and noticed them so much, so I started adding more,” said Wedemeier.

Since then, the cart has been decorated at least with something every day of the year.

“It’s never really bare,” Wedmeier said.

Before the Christmas season arrived, the cart was decorated for Thanksgiving, Halloween and, before that, for fall in general.

Some co-workers enjoy seeing the decorated cart so much that they have contributed items to the decor. This fall, the nurses on the fourth floor donated scarecrows.

All of the items on the cart right now for Christmas are things Wedemeier purchased at a local resale shop.

“At the end of the season, I may keep some stuff to reuse, or I may just give it away to someone who likes it,” said Wedemeier, noting that anyone who comments on any of the items on the cart now is invited to take it with them.

“It’s fun. I never realized how much people really like it.” 

Last week, Wedemeier said she was walking down a hall when she heard someone yelling. It turned out to be a patient who wanted her to bring the cart into the room.

It’s that kind of reaction that only makes Wedemeier want to add more decorations to her cart.

“One man told me, ‘I’ve been here five days, and this is the happiest thing I’ve seen,’ ” Wedemeier recalled, proudly.  

Hagedorn noted that more than once some of the toy items on the cart have helped calm upset pediatric patients. 

Wedemeier recalled one little boy who was about 8 years old, running up and down the hall barefoot with jeans on and no shirt. He was screaming that he wanted to go home, she said.

When he ducked into his room, Wedemeier followed him in and saw how exasperated his mother was.

“It dawned on me to give him one of these dinosaurs I had on the cart, and that calmed him down,”  she said.

Helen Capps, Washington, said Wedemeier is doing more than just making people smile with her decorations.

“She has such a positive outlook, in a place that sees many hard things, as the families are going through hard times,” Capps told The Missourian. “Her cart is always boosting moral, and people are stopping to take a picture with her cart and her.”