Making the Hospital a Home for the Holidays
Clint Curry, a public relations manager at CMN Hospitals, got to visit a member hospital this month. He explains what a December stop-in at Children's Hospital Colorado meant to him.
Visiting a Children's Miracle Network Hospital during the holidays can bring up some mixed emotions. The lobby, halls and common places are festively decorated with seasonal cheer, and there's a solace in knowing that so many kids are recovering from a successful surgery or making strides in their treatment. Still, the reality is that so many kids this year — and every year — have to make the hospital a home for the holidays. Accidents, illnesses and disease don't stall for Santa's visit or annual family get-togethers.
Luckily, one hospital I visited on December 11 is making the season especially bright for its patients and families. Children's Hospital Colorado, located not far from downtown Denver and in operation for just over a century, makes a conscious effort for the rooms and halls to feel as homey as possible. And it's helping lead the way for the eight neighboring states that rely on its many top-rated pediatric programs and specialists.
We like to use the phrase "in the Network" to refer to CMN Hospitals. After visiting this hospital, I quickly realized that our hospitals have vast networks of their own. "Children's Hospital," for instance, has 15 satellite care centers and works in tandem with the University of Colorado pediatrics program and smaller children's hospitals, among others. CMN Hospitals program director Melissa Doremus — who led the hospital tour — explained that this hospital network accommodates 165,000 individual visits each year and 120,000 ER visits.
While a variety of pediatric treatments are offered at this hospital, two areas I got to tour were the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the eye-opening Center of Gait and Movement Analysis. Both are helping kids in very different but important ways.
As the head nurse explained while making rounds, the NICU will host up to 55 babies next month, generally the busiest month given respiratory problems peak during the winter months. We looked on a 16-ounce baby boy named Carsten, who was gaining strength in a Giraffe bed. Wires, monitors and IVs aside, I was most surprised to hear about the body temperature regulation process, in which nurses help facilitate a 2-hour therapy. The baby's temperature is matched up to the moms with the aid of just a light blanket. A very important part of the baby's health improving, and it just goes to show that nature can offer the best medicine.
The Center of Gait and Movement Analysis began as a program at Children's Hospital in 1999 and — as Melissa explained — benefited greatly from CMN Hospitals' unrestricted funds given locally. This lab looks somewhat like a Hollywood sound stage, with a lined walking path cut down the middle. And a bit of Hollywood magic has been implemented in this lab: CGI technology, seen in so many DisneyPixar and DreamWorks movies.
The technician on-hand explained how to analyze one little girl's walking style due to complications with cerebral palsy. High-definition cameras catch every move during a filmed 10-second walk. A series of graphs and plotted data are used to determine the exact foot, knee, hip and all associated muscles and brain activity involved in walking. It may come second nature to many of us, but it's a really complex task for those with brain injuries. I was fascinated by how much detailed information was analyzed, and was interested to learn about some experimental surgeries with leg muscles to help correct walking problems.
At the end of our tour, I passed by a CMN Hospitals recognition wall (see below), thanking all the companies and programs that will provide over $4.5 million alone this year. It's nice to know that so many individuals have helped raise this money $1 or $5 at a time throughout the year. And if it can't always bring children home for the holidays, it's good to know these kids have a facility with caring staff and reliable medical equipment. And, hopefully, they'll get better for the next holiday season.