For many children (and older people as well), a beloved stuffed toy or old baby blanket can make a stay in hospital a little bit more bearable.
Many of us could imagine the heartbreak if such a security item went missing, bundled up in the bedding and assumed lost forever.
Luckily the team at Capital Linen Service keep their eyes peeled for such objects.
“You can imagine how it happens, it gets left in the bed and then staff gather them into a pile like a little package and throw it into the linen bin at the hospital,” employee Chris Evans said.
“It gets brought to our factory in Mitchell and sorted on a conveyor belt … it’s almost a daily thing for us to find a lost toy.”
Chris was the one who returned a beloved teddy bear to a little boy with an intellectual disability and ongoing health issues.
The bear, aptly named ‘Teddy’, was one such toy caught up in hospital linen during a recent stay.
“The hospital got in touch, and then the mum also contacted me at the front office, and sent through a photo with details of when Teddy got lost,” Chris said.
“All I needed to do was work out what line of trolleys the linen from the hospital was in and then the team found him.”
Chris had the honour of handing Teddy back into his owner’s arms.
“His whole face lit up when he saw it … he gave it a big hug,” he said.
“His mother was in tears, she was very thankful … she told me her son hadn’t been sleeping, you could hear in her voice just how tough it was in the night.
“You could tell this was something really important for this family’s routine.”
Along with stuffed toys, mobile phones are also commonly found among the sheets and pillow cases.
Chris said the team was able to catch the electronics about 90 per cent of the time before they ended up in the wash.
But they weren’t the only things uncovered in the linen.
“I’ve heard one time a prosthetic eye turned up, and we were able to get it back to the owner,” Chris said.
“It would have been a bit of a shock for the team who found it in the first place!”
When items are found they are cleaned (if possible) and then attempts are made to contact owners. Chris advised anyone to give their returned item another clean once they got it back home.
If you think you’ve lost something in linen provided by Capital Linen Service, Chris said you could get in touch via email@example.com. Include a description of the item, when and where you think it went missing, and a picture if possible.
“We find toys all the time, but sometimes owners don’t contact us and so we have a whole crate of toys downstairs in our basement,” he said.
“About 70 to 80 per cent of the time we do locate the items if we’re contacted … and we do keep the ones we find for a very, very long time.
“It’s a massive team effort when we find these things.”