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Wisdom of Families: Children’s Care Requires a Team of Experts and Lots of Time for Conversations
by Trillium Hibbeln on 02/15/2011 at 2:21 PM

When we rushed my infant daughter Sofina to the children's hospital with a suspected heart problem I was amazed to see the team of pediatric specialists waiting for us when we arrived in the emergency department.

I was so grateful pediatric cardiologist Sam Lacina, MD, was there. He quickly diagnosed what was wrong and started treatment that saved my daughter's life.

Since that day eight years ago I have come to appreciate the difference of a hospital that specializes in children.

Nowhere else in West Michigan would I have found a multidisciplinary team that included pediatric specialists in emergency medicine, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, anesthesiology, radiology and pediatric critical care medicine. In addition, Sofina received care from nursing, respiratory therapy and pediatric clinical pharmacists.

As frightened parents of a critically ill newborn we were comforted by the depth and breadth of Sofina's medical team. But we were also overwhelmed, worried, scared and wondering about her future.

Just as comforting, the medical team understood that and helped us cope. The doctors took lots of time to sit with us, to answer our questions, and to explain what was going on in terms we could understand.

My friend Dr. Jeri Kessenich is the director of the pediatric residency program here, and learning to listen to families is part of the training because parents know their child best. She says, "with children's medicine, there is no substitute for time. Our goal is to be in continuous conversation with our patients and their families."

I am wondering what your experiences have been with a child's illness and what wisdom you can share about helping parents to cope.

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Comment posted by Trillium Hibbeln on 02/23/2011 at 9:51 AM
Wow! I just finished reading your amazing story and can't help but feel very emotional. First, I am so grateful that you shared your story! This story exemplifies why we all work here. It is a magical place! Second, I am so glad that your special grandchild is well and back to running around like a normal toddler. An experience like that sure reminds us all how precious our children are! Thank you! Trillium
Comment posted by A Grandpa's Story... on 02/22/2011 at 4:19 PM
Trillium, This Grandpa never really thought he would have a first hand experience at HDCH emergency let alone only 13 days after the first kids were wheeled into their rooms of the new facility. I would like to share my story. My granddaughter, the fifth in a line of seven, was being a typical toddler on Monday morning, January 24. Her parents heard an abnormal scream come from the living room. Upon rushing to the living room, they saw Lexi laying of the floor crying. As Mickey Mouse finished singing his famous "hot dog dance", her parents assessed through her tears and pain that she had somehow fell on her bottom while dancing with her beloved Mickey Mouse. Now I have fallen on my bottom after skydiving, and believe me the pain in intense, to say the least. One would think that an almost 3-year old would be fairly immune to the daily bumps and bruises that life affords a child. But as in my granddaughter's case, not always. Grandma and I were called by Lexi's parents and made aware of the situation. We rushed to their home to see how we could assist and lend support in their decision making process. We arrived to find Lexi laying on the living room carpet not willing to raise her legs, get up, rollover or sit. She exhibited no pain while she was lying still, but cried in pain upon movement. Now this is not your typical toddler. Lexi is, as I call it, 220 volt busy! She is not only agile and coordinated beyond her age, but also a jumper, a runner, a climber, and just fun to play with. Grandpa knows! Based on her lack of mobility, an ambulance was called. The paramedics arrived and after careful assessment, they decided to carry Lexi to the waiting ambulance by buckboard. We followed Lexi and her dad to the hospital and took our five month pregnant daughter with us. My heightened adrenalin was tested as I went to the front door of HDCH rather than the emergency room entrance. Thank you for the wonderful valet parking, which helped mask my mistake during the rush to reunite my daughter and granddaughter. When we parked we were graciously escorted, by security, to Lexi's room in emergency, where she and her dad were already being assessed. Two doctors tested reflexes, probed and asked little Lexi questions in order to determine any type of damage to her spine or bottom. As I looked around, I found the room was just buzzing with different colors. It was not the typical sterile, white that might upset a child. Nurses came in to take some non-evasive vitals. I believe it was nearly an hour that these doctors were assessing every possibility of injury and conferring with Lexi's Dad and Mom. After a period of time, one of the doctors was able to coax Lexi to stand on her own. It took him singing the Mickey Mouse "hot dog dance" song, with which his own twin toddlers had introduced him too. What a perfect doctor for my granddaughter. Both Doctors determined that she probably jumped, fell and bruised her bottom. Their diagnosis was that she would be sore but would recuperate just fine. After getting her dressed, she and I began to "walk" down the hall. Her doctor and nurses watched and observed her cautious yet calculated steps down the corridor. She walked with rigged, stiff legs so not to disturb anything that would cause further pain. Looking down from 6 feet up with her little hand wrapped around my index finger, my heart nearly broke the heart of this grandfather. That instant reminded me of how I need to walk with my heavenly Father. Nearly four weeks later, she is just fine. She is now officially 3-years old and back to being 220 volt in all that she does, much to my delight! On behalf of all the 150 plus doctors, registered nurses, physician assistants, clerical staff and security staff who were over-the-top gracious, we as a family could not be more pleased.My daughter had some further questions that evening and called back to HDCH in hopes of talking to a nurse. Not only did they connect her to and emergency room nurse who remembered my daughter, but also they connected her to one of the doctor's that had saw Lexi that morning. I was thoroughly impressed with their service and kindness in meeting her needs and allowing her and her family to rest easy that evening. Dr. Bob Connors, President of HDCH, you have a crown-jewel rating from this Grandpa. You see Bob and Trillium, I was at the dedication ceremony of the HDCH in December 2010. Our team took hundreds of photos, and toured the hospital from bottom to top to write coverage for the MedicalMile dot com website. We wrote an article for our website summing up this phenomenal hospital we all are blessed to have here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Little did I know that I would need to embrace the last part of our article: "We hope that you and your family never require hospital needs. However, if one of your family members do need child care, the staff of Doctors and registered nurses we met at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital were as world class as this 'crown-jewel' of Medical Mile. " I know our stay was short and emergency room driven; however, this Grandpa felt compelled to write and tell you what a special experience we observed. Thank you, Health@MedicalMile.com
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