May 21

Addressing the Pediatric Mental Health Crisis

Experts are unsure why pediatric mental health conditions are spiking, but increased awareness and treatment options are bringing new hope to patients and their families.

From the outside, everything in Julia Paxton’s world looked perfect. She had warm, loving parents, plenty of friends, was active in student government at her Mount Vernon high school and was a trusted local babysitter.

Nationwide-2.PNG“But on the inside, I was dying,” she says now. Hiding in her room at home in Howard, Ohio, northeast of Columbus, she would cut herself to relieve her anxiety. She imagined what it would be like to kill herself to halt the constant drumbeat of anguish that had become her life.

May 19

Update on Donovan

Donovan_photo2.pngAt 2018 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day, Donovan advocated on behalf of kids like him and the care he receives from Akron Children's Hospital. Below is an update from his parents, Kevin and Lisa.

Donovan is in good health and continuing to thrive. Since participating at Family Advocacy Day, he returned to the soccer field for two successful seasons. Donovan completed the 4th grade with straight A's, and he switched to a new school for 5th grade where he continues to make mostly A's. 

May 15

Grateful for Our Nurses

CHOC_Patterson-Melanie.jpgTo honor nurses who are on the front lines of providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, National Nurses Week (May 6-12) was extended to recognize National Nurses Month for May 2020.

Below is a testimonial from Melanie Patterson, DNP, MHA, RN, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at CHOC Children's.   

I am honored to lead a team of nurses who demonstrate—every day—an extraordinary commitment to the highest standards of care. That dedication hasn’t wavered in the slightest during the pandemic. 

From supporting our command center operations to staffing a 24/7 COVID-19 helpline for our community, our nurses have enthusiastically accepted new roles and responsibilities to ensure we continue to advance the health and well-being of the children who depend on us. 

May 11

Recognizing Children's Hospital Nurses - Marianne's Story

Editor's Note: For National Nurses Week (May 6-12), we recognize the incredible dedication of nurses across the country--especially those providing care to our most vulnerable in children's hospitals. Below is an update from Marianne Hatfield, Vice President of Yale New Haven Children's Hospital & Yale New Haven Hospital Women's Services.

YNNH-COVID.PNGAs COVID-19 has not affected the pediatric population in the same way as it has affected the adult population, our pediatric services have seen a steep decline in in-person clinic and emergency department visits. We have had the same ban on elective procedures as our adult counterparts leading to a significantly decreased census in our inpatient and pediatric ICU units--with the exception of our neonatal intensive care units which have maintained their normal volume of patients.

May 10

Meet Windy – Mom and Nurse

For Mother’s Day, Windy Smith, a mother and nurse at UW Health's American Family Children’s Hospital, shares her poignant and heartfelt story. Windy’s daughter, Brielle “Ellie,” has Langerhans’s Cell Histiocytosis, a rare cancer disorder. Windy cares for her daughter during her treatment.

Windy_Smith-3.jpgFor the past 12 years, I have been a Nurse at UW Health's American Family Children’s Hospital. My career began in the Float Pool, then I transitioned into a Care Team Leader and eventually become a Nurse Manager of a 24-bed medical/surgical unit. I love what I do.

In July 2019, my 8-year-old daughter, Brielle “Ellie,” developed an extreme thirst which caused her to urinate excessively. She was diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus – a rare condition that causes an imbalance of bodily fluids. Since this disorder had come on suddenly, our endocrinologist recommended an MRI, which revealed Langerhans’s Cell Histiocytosis—an uncommon cancer that causes lesions in tissue. A lesion was found on Ellie’s pituitary stalk, and we learned she would have to undergo chemotherapy and take high doses of steroids, antibiotics, antacids, stool softeners, and depression medications.

May 06

Families Seeking Mental Health Resources Need Compassion and Respect

MichaelWolf.jpgMay 6-12 is National Nurses Week, and May 7 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. Michael Wolf, BSN, RN-BC, a nurse manager for Pediatric Behavioral Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, in Jacksonville, Fla., shares why children's mental health is important to him.

It’s distressing for any parent to have their child admitted to the hospital and to turn over control to a medical team they’ve barely met. It’s even more distressing for parents when their child is admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit because he or she has a mental disorder and is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

My name is Michael Wolf (the kids call me Mr. Mike). I’m the nurse manager for Pediatric Behavioral Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. We have a 14-bed inpatient psychiatric unit that provides brief acute care hospitalization and crisis stabilization services for children ages 6 to 18 years of age. We also have a partial hospitalization program/intense outpatient program serving up to 10 children, 13 to 18 years of age.

Apr 20

I'm Not "OK" -- A Mother's Testimonial

fam21.pngIf you’ve ever been in a hospital, you have heard machines chiming. The ding endlessly reoccurring until a nurse can tend to it. The NICU is no exception--if anything it’s tremendously louder with each ring. Each little life fighting so hard, and in the left-back corner is my son also fighting for his life.

It was nearly impossible to find the right words to explain what was happening. We held on to hope through the moments of frailty and uncertainty. That was our only solid ground through months of surgeries, intubations, needle sticks, lumbar punctures, and blood transfusions.

Apr 08

Helping Children with Autism Cope During a Pandemic

As we all cope with uncertainty due to the spread of COVID-19, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have an even harder time with these stressors.

Children with autism may struggle with understanding information they see and hear about COVID-19. They may also have a hard time communicating their concerns or asking questions, especially if they’re stressed or confused. Because it can be difficult for them to understand and convey their emotions, they may become easily frustrated. Additionally, as many parents of children with autism know, changes to schedule and routines often trigger anxiety and disruptive behaviors.

Apr 07

COVID-19 could kill my toddler. Stay home for him and others with underlying health conditions.

Meghan Wooldridge’s first-person essay below was originally published by PublicSource. Speak Now for Kids republished her essay with Meghan’s and PublicSource’s permission.

By necessity, I have to pay very close attention to what is going on in the world of infectious disease as the parent of a medically complex child. In the weeks leading up to COVID-19 reaching pandemic status, I began to circle the wagons, knowing that despite whatever measures were taken, we were going to have to go back into isolation. 

My 3-year-old, Timmy, was born with a congenital heart defect, and he is part of the at-risk population should he contract the virus. When the media says that this virus is deadly to those with underlying health conditions, you breathe a sigh of relief because that is not you or your children. It is my child. 

Mar 24

Meet Kelsie: Certified Child Life Specialist

Kelsie is a Certified Child Life Specialist in the radiology department at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Over the past 18 months, Kelsie and her colleagues have developed a program to reduce the use of sedation for pediatric patients who require an MRI.

The creation of the MR-I Can Do It program has offered alternative, safe options for children who do not medically require sedation. Sedation is often utilized so the child can remain still for the duration of the scan. But sedation comes with inherent risks for patients. That’s why Kelsie and her team have created opportunities for education and preparation to help kids complete MRIs without sedation.

When a child is scheduled for an MRI with sedation, Kelsie and the MR-I Can Do It team review the patient’s information to see if he or she is an appropriate candidate for the program. If so, the team contacts the family to further assess if the child may be able to complete the scan without sedation. Through developmentally specific teaching and preparation—and the support of child life specialists— over 600 children at Mott have completed their scans in the last year and a half without sedation.

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