Beyond Illness: Caring for the Whole Child at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

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I’ll admit that in my daily life I don’t spend much time thinking about what hospital I’d go to if there were an emergency or if one of our children needed long term medical care.  I had not thought much about what, given the circumstances, I actually wanted in a hospital until I had the opportunity to tour the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

Of course, by sheer numbers alone, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is pretty amazing place. CHoR sees almost 20,000 pediatric ER patients per year and over 245,000 outpatient visits per year, offering 48 medical and/or surgical services from endocrinology and ophthalmology to psychology and dentistry. It’s well known that CHoR at VCU is both a teaching and a research hospital, with over $10 million in annual research funding. And people are taking notice, U.S. News & World Report has included CHoR at VCU in the new 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

But those aren’t the things that struck me on the tour.

It was the people and the culture; the attention paid to both child and family. On a Friday afternoon while touring the hospital, I saw many doctors and nurses at work, but there were other extraordinary people as well: volunteers organizing a prom for kids who were too sick to attend their school’s; off-duty staff taking kids on an overnight trip to get away from things for a while. There is a room set aside for parents of children who have an overnight stay, a cheerfully decorated family waiting room, a play area for siblings, a cart full of children’s books, and a rooftop playground looking out on the city; children can receive physical therapy there or a parent can get a breath of fresh air.

As I walked through to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) I was greeted with photographs of the beautiful faces of children who started their lives in the NICU; I realized that there can so much more to a hospital than doctors and medical tests, and so much more to getting better than just treating an illness.

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU understands that when childhood is interrupted by illness and families are turned upside down, little things make all the difference.  A small sense of normalcy or a celebration can, for a little while, uplift spirits and make the difficult a little easier.

So, while I had not thought much about hospitals before, it is comforting to know that both my children’s health and their wellbeing would be in good hands at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. 

 

CHoR at VCU full color

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