Posts tagged ‘Penn State Children’s Hospital’

In your corner: Pediatric Complex Care team advocates for children with multiple medical needs

Dr. Laura Murphy, pediatrician with Penn State Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Complex Care Program, smiles and bends down to greet her patient, Brinda Rizal, who is in a wheelchair. Brinda, who has braids and is wearing a sweatshirt and pants, is strapped into the wheelchair and looks up at Murphy, who is wearing a polka dotted shirt and pants and wears a stethoscope around her neck. Brinda’s mother, Basudha Rizal, wearing glasses and a printed top and pants, is sitting in a chair against the wall. She smiles at her daughter. A soap dispenser, pamphlet rack and folders are hanging on the wall of the exam rom.

Dr. Laura Murphy greets 8-year-old Brinda Rizal of Harrisburg during an appointment as her mother, Basudha, looks on.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Ask Dina Gonzalez about her son Alejandro’s diagnosis, and she has no specific answer.

The list of health challenges the 10-year-old boy faces, however, numbers at least eight items – seizure disorder, cortical visual impairment, chronic lung disease among them – and managing them is daunting.

“Dealing with the doctors can be hard,” the Lebanon mother said. “A lot of them are good at what they do, but they have tunnel vision for their own specialty, and they don’t take into account all of Alejandro’s conditions and medications.”

Her son uses a wheelchair and requires 24/7 monitoring. Gonzalez says she often feels like a prisoner to his frequent, respiratory-compromising seizures – which require her to give oxygen, stimulation to the chest and rescue breaths.

Worrying about whether insurance will continue to pay for his medical equipment, coordinating all his speech, occupational and physical therapy with specialist appointments and finding time for her older son pose a constant challenge.

Enter Dr. Laura Murphy and the Pediatric Complex Care team at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

(more…)

May 8, 2019 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Penn State Health doctors help Ephrata baby born with rare condition breathe easier

Natasha Himes kisses her newborn baby boy as she holds him on her chest. He has surgical tape on his face and his wearing a striped shirt. Natasha has long curly hair and is wearing a cotton top.

Natasha Himes comforts her son Knoxley as he recovers from surgery.

There was nothing unusual about Natasha Himes’s seventh pregnancy or delivery. Like her previous six, both were easy and uncomplicated. While all of her other children were born in a hospital, the Ephrata woman wanted to have this baby at home.

Dec. 19, 2018, started out as any ordinary day. Himes’ children, ranging in age from 2 to 13, completed their homeschool lessons, and the midwife visited. The baby wasn’t due until Christmas, but he had other plans.

At 3:53 p.m., Knoxley came into the world, weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 21 inches long. “I was in labor just 53 minutes,” Himes said. “The midwife walked in as I was pushing.”

When the midwife saw Knoxley had a cleft palate, he was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital where he was diagnosed with Pierre Robin syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, the rare condition occurs in about 1 per 8,500 births. (more…)

March 27, 2019 at 10:00 am 2 comments

Patients find this prescription for therapy is music to their ears

Marissa Aulenbach, right, a board-certified music therapist at Penn State Children’s Hospital, plays a guitar while registered nurse Lauren Libhart tends to 4-month-old Caden Hoover. The baby is lying in a crib with wires and monitors attached to his body. Aulenbach is wearing a blue, long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Libhart is wearing blue scrubs, a headband and glasses. Several toys are in the crib.

Marissa Aulenbach, right, a board-certified music therapist at Penn State Children’s Hospital, plays her guitar while registered nurse Lauren Libhart tends to 4-month-old Caden Hoover during his stay for a heart condition.

By Carolyn Kimmel

After 12 days in the hospital, Hershey resident Anita Heckert could tell her optimism was waning, so when her occupational therapist suggested music therapy, she was game.

“To have someone come and spend time with me that didn’t involve needles, drawing blood or an MRI was very appealing,” said Heckert who was in Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for complications due to colon cancer.

As Jan Stouffer, board-certified music therapist with the Music Therapy Program at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, quietly played guitar, she gave Heckert an ocean drum to play.

Hundreds of small ball bearings in the drum combined to sound like gentle waves at low tide coming across the sand—and transported Heckert back to a happy day years ago when she and her sister, each with their small sons, visited Assateague Island and frolicked on the beach with six wild ponies splashing nearby.

As Stouffer encouraged her to remember the strong and faithful mother she had been in that moment, she reminded her, “That person still exists—you are that person.” The encounter served as a turning point in Heckert’s emotional outlook.

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February 13, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Destination safety: teen driver education a priority at Penn State Children’s Hospital

A teen boy smiles and holds the wheel of the driving simulator One Simple Decision. Next to him is a man with glasses, gray hair and a beard. Behind them are a table and chairs, carpet and a wooden cabinet.

A teen boy experiences the dangers of distracted and impaired driving through the simulation-based program One Simple Decision.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Penn State Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Erich Batra and his daughter had a special date with an important goal last fall—to drive safer and smarter.

The pair were part of the first Alive at 25 driver’s awareness course presented by the Penn State Trauma Community Outreach team. Designed by the National Safety Council, the course teaches drivers age 15 to 21 and their parents strategies for keeping safe on the road and tackles decision-making and responsibility-taking.

“My daughter is a very good driver, but I felt like the course would be a good reminder for her and for myself,” Batra said. “Any opportunity we have to reinforce what good driving behavior looks like is worth it, and teens need to hear it from someone other than their parents or driving instructor.”Alive at 25

                                 See more photos of the Alive at 25 course on Flickr.

(more…)

January 30, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Lorelei’s story: helping others is written on her heart

Thirteen-year-old Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer lies on the ground and smiles, surrounded by five heart-shaped pillows called Heart Hugs. The pillows have colorful hand prints or triangular patterns on them.

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer is surrounded by her Heart Hug pillows that have been sent to more than 20,000 children around the world.

By Carolyn Kimmel

When Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer picks up a pen, her words—and her imagination—take her to places her heart never could.

“When I write, it’s just me and my adventures, and nothing can stop me,” said the 13-year-old Duncannon girl, who has already won three local writing competitions.

In reality, she knows hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect, does stop her without warning. The three lifesaving open-heart surgeries she had by age 3 and 30 other procedures and hospital stays have a way of doing that, she admits.

“I don’t want people to see me just from one angle. I want them to see the real me, not just the girl with half a heart,” she said. “To me, my life is normal. People think it’s sad, but I have the best doctors and nurses in the world.”

Some of them are located right here, at Penn State Children’s Hospital, where Lorelei has been coming since she was born with the left side of her heart severely underdeveloped. Her rare heart condition was discovered at 21 weeks, after her twin brother, Rory, died in utero.

(more…)

July 31, 2018 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment


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