Connecting Personally With Your Community Children’s Hospital

My personal connections to ProMedica Toledo Hospital and ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital are deep and cherished. In 1946, my grandmother, who grew up on a farm, graduated from Toledo Hospital’s School of Nursing. Her successful career was the beginning of our family’s story here in Toledo. Not only was I born at Toledo Hospital, but many of my loved ones, including my father, mother, aunt, cousin, sister, and friends have also worked there. To me, this hospital is and has always been about people and family.

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My grandmother Irene’s nursing graduation picture from the Toledo Hospital School of Nursing in 1946.

 

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My mother holding me as a newborn in 1983.

 

Early Memories at Toledo Hospital
My childhood is freckled with magical memories of Toledo Hospital. Coming to work with my mom, I remember the awe of being at the hospital before sunrise. As I walked across the lobby and over the brick walkways of Harris McIntosh, people smiled and seemed connected. I practiced reading and writing in my mother’s office, armed with carefully selected highlighters, and sometimes a candy bar from the gift shop. I always looked forward to eating in the cafeteria and enjoying my favorite treat: Chocolate pudding. The food reminded me of my grandmother’s, and I could tell someone made it with love and with the sentiment of healing.

“Take Your Daughter to Work Day” gave me the opportunity to visit various departments in the hospital, including the mailroom, the lab and the cafeteria. They all have such important jobs that are essential to making this fascinating community work. From an early age, this hospital symbolized knowledge, talent, happiness, and helping make people feel better.

Becoming a Patient & Advocate
My relationship with the hospital changed in adolescence when I developed epilepsy. An ambulance brought me to my early morning visits in those days, and the hospital seemed cold, noisy, bright, and often frightening. I was always too tired and weak to move, but I remember the rickety sound of the stretcher’s wheels in the hallways and the sound of calm voices working diligently to make sure I was safe. The intense fear of coming out of my seizures was always accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of security and trust with my wellbeing. When I heard my mom’s and sister’s voices and felt their hands in mine, I knew I was in good hands.

I became a mother at Toledo Children’s Hospital, and my relationship with the hospital changed once again. Because my son, Jonah, was born with some extensive birth defects and a rare chromosome abnormality, he needed my advocacy. Successful advocacy is not something I was born with; I learned through trial, error, and positive interactions with healthcare professionals. They supported us by sharing knowledge and welcoming our participation, along with showing us respect and dignity. This is what inspires and empowers caregivers and patients.

From my experience on the Family Advisory Council and getting to know other patients and families, I have learned how positive interactions, and the trust that forms between families and healthcare professionals directly impact the success of a child’s health and well-being. This is something us caregivers often forget and need to be reminded of by the professionals: How instrumental WE are to the success of our child’s health and well-being, and our own.

The Family Advisory Council is a partnership among health care providers, patients, and families. Their mission of promoting patient and family centered care redefines the relationships in health care. They are creating a wave of positive change for patients and families by being a unified voice of empowerment and advocacy. I strongly encourage families and healthcare providers to continue this dialog by becoming a part of the Family Advisory Council at Toledo Children’s Hospital or the equivalent at the hospital you are connected with.

 

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Diagnosed with epilepsy, I saw Toledo Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine physician, Dr. Sunderji, for both my children’s births, Jonah and Farrah. My daughter Farrah is pictured here in the ultrasound.

 

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Holding my perfectly healthy baby Farrah at Toledo Children’s Hospital.

 

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My son, Jonah, becoming stronger and mastering what is now his strongest attribute: Perseverance. This was during a therapy session through Total Rehab with physical therapist Ellen whom we are still friends with today.

 

Building a Community
My family and I have recently decided to relocate for the best interest of our family. I am saddened to be ending my journey as a volunteer at Toledo Children’s and on the Family Advisory Council, as it has been a passion of mine for years. I have met so many dedicated talented individuals within this hospital and group.

Beginning this new chapter in our family’s life was filled with uncertainty. How would this new city ever feel like home as Toledo does? How could I, as a mother of a child with special needs, create another remarkable team of medical professionals, educators and peers within my son’s community? This has taken years of success and oftentimes mistakes!

We decided right away that our kids needed to feel roots within the new house we would live in. Where would we sleep and eat our meals together? They needed to feel security in knowing we are a family creating memories anywhere we travel. My son Jonah had much more complex questions than I was prepared for. He recently got a second hearing implant and has since become quite verbal and very inquisitive. He wanted to know who would be his new doctors, dentist, teachers, principal, and friends. Where would we grocery shop, get our medicine from, and did they have a hospital, a library, Special Olympics? He had anxiety about all the things I was thinking. We both needed to see that we could do the same things here in our new city and be happy.

So we visited the community institutions like the public library, museum, neighborhood park, and children’s hospital. All the people and pillars we have grown to love in Toledo were still with us in our new foreign city. We felt strength and security in that. Home is in your heartfelt memories and we carry important tools and inspiration from our experiences.

Exploring your community institutions and contributing to positive interactions and improvements develops deeply embedded roots anywhere. Home really is where you make it and what you give is what you will get in return. Our communities are deeply embedded in the foundation of our story. I am confident we will be happy and healthy on this new journey because of all we have learned thus far. I have been inspired by Toledo Children’s community of patients, families, volunteers, and dedicated staff, and to have been a part of the magic that exists within this hospital’s walls.

This is illustrated beautifully in Beyond the Frame, a photographic exhibit between entrances #3 and #4 representing the stories and interactions of Toledo Children’s Hospital’s patients, families, and staff. There is also a wonderful Beyond the Frame video, produced by Emmy award-winning videographer Matthew Miller, that accompanies the exhibit and has reached people beyond the hospital’s walls. I am so proud to have helped bring this vision to life, and I am thankful for the memories my family has made here over the past few generations.

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Jonah has grown to become a healthy, happy, and self advocating young man.

 

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The brick we dedicated in Jonah’s name at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

 

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My family at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council event Positive Exposure: The Spirit of Difference in 2013, photographed by Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure.

 

Do you have a special connection with your community hospital? Share your experiences in a comment?

Mary Boru3K6A1421cki has served on the ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council since 2007 and was the most recent chairperson. She has also been a hospital volunteer and a parent mentor. Mary and Jonah are subjects in ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital’s Beyond the Frame photo exhibit, on permanent display inside the ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital main entrance hallway. 

 

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