When a child is suffering from a serious illness, his or her parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles also need comfort at a time of uncertainty. Children’s Medical Fund aims to provide support to the entire family to help them better cope during the hospital stay.
Andrea Weisbach explains the help her family received from CMF:
The Summer of 2011 would prove to be a trying time in our lives. My son, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare illness called Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Little did we know we would wind up making Cohen Children’s Medical Center our home for the next few weeks.
CMF Child Life Services would come in a couple of times every day to help comfort us both, but Daniel wasn’t well enough to take advantage yet of the goodies they were bringing to him. The closet in the hospital room was piling up with musical instruments, games, art supplies, stickers and stuffed animals. I was told the worst of this could take another couple of weeks to get through, this illness getting worse before it got better. They were right. After about 6 days in the PICU with sedation, morphine, more antiobiotics and an imuglobulin transfusion, Dan began to wake up and start what would be a very long recovery. Suddenly stickers and some baseball cards became more appealing and Child Life Services was right there with more for him to do as he started to feel better. They would sit and play with him, talk to him, comfort him and try to make him forget where he was- which was not an easy task on a Pediatric ICU. The small stuffed tiger that Child Life gave him still sits on his bed today and gives him comfort. I kept thinking how lucky we were to have a children’s hospital in such close proximity that is devoted to children for both their physical and emotional well-being. From the lobby with the man with a clown nose on to greet you- you feel the respect and interest in both parent and child.
I felt like I needed to let everyone know what a gift it is to have Child Life Services and Cohen Children’s Medical Center in our own backyard. So many people ask me what Child Life is – they think it’s just part of the hospital – like the doctors and nurses. The Child Life specialists provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences.
When people ask me, “How is Daniel doing?” I say he is about 99% and the 1% will take a long time to heal. He still has scars on his body and a persistent cough that lingers but he is back to himself and playing travel baseball, basketball and soccer and just celebrated his 10th birthday with his identical twin brother, Ben.
Matthew Gerard Giunta, Sr., whose son Matthew, Jr. was born on September 6, 2005. Unable to breathe on his own, he spent his first three months at what was then known as Schneider Children’s Hospital. After 15 months, Matthew passed away at home with his parents, Matthew Sr. and Danielle Giunta. On the first anniversary of Matthew’s death, friends and family donated $12,261 to CMF in his memory.
I spend a lot of time thinking about Matthew. I remember how I used to rush home from work to a house that resembled Grand Central Station. Most of the time I’d walk in to find Matthew with a look of excitement on his face just because I was home! Other times I would find other surprises, like soda pouring out the fridge door or Jell-O all over the carpet.
I remember Fridays, when I would chase my mother-in-law out of the house at three-o’clock, so I could spend time alone with Matthew before the next nurse arrived.
I looked forward to Saturday nights, when I would take Matthew and all his equipment upstairs so he could sleep with his mother and me. They were the most peaceful nights, with Matthew’s chubby little hand resting on my arm.
I miss those things the most now when I come home to such a quiet house. But I try to hold on to the strength Matthew has given me through his memories, and to use it to help his beautiful mom and me get through any difficult times that might lie ahead.
I will always be proud to be the father of such an amazing and inspiring son. I love and miss you, Matthew, Jr.
To date they have raised over $30,000!!
– Matthew Gerard Giunta, Sr.
“Recently, a friend asked if I’d be interested in attending a fundraising event she was planning. When she mentioned the name of the organization, I smiled and gladly accepted. I did not need a brochure about Children’s Medical Fund because many years ago my daughter was a recipient of the wonderful programs they provide for hospitalized children. My young daughter had been diagnosed with a curable form of cancer. Nonetheless, the grueling treatments and lengthy hospital stays over the course of a year would have been unbearable if it weren’t for the many patient support programs available at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center thanks to the support of Children’s Medical Fund.
I can vividly recall the ways Children’s Medical Fund helped to ease the loneliness of a hospital stay for so many children. They provided Child Life Specialists who were always nearby to comfort children during painful medical tests and procedures. They also took the time to play a game, read a book or go for a walk around the floor with young patients. They spent hours in the playrooms on each floor,which are stocked with games, iPads, computers and other electronic devices, as well as arts and crafts materials, movies, books and music to help the hours pass quickly. I remember when the therapy dogs made their visits, never failing to comfort and put smiles on young patients as well as their families. At times when a holiday or birthday had to be spent in the hospital,Children’s Medical Fund would arrange wonderful parties complete with decorations, food, music and gifts for patients and their families.
Although parents and children should never have to spend long periods of time in hospital settings, if the situation should ever arise it is comforting to know that the work of the Children’s Medical Fund is there to help them get through a difficult time.”
– Grace Vuotto