As 2013 rolls to a close, this seems like a perfect time to reflect on the individuals, programs and events that helped make All Children’s special throughout the year.
Those stories are told on a regular basis in the feature known as “Faces and Places,” giving ACH employees and the general public a closer look at uplifting aspects of hospital life. Some unfolded in the spotlight in 2013; others took place in less visible corners of the hospital or, in one case, bubbled up from the pages of history with a little-known link to a baseball immortal.
But the common denominator is that all underscored the caring spirit of All Children’s – from the doctors, nurses and staff inside the building to the compassion of the people on the outside, moved to lend a helping hand in an array of powerful ways.
We rang out 2012 with a New Year’s Eve story about a remarkable baby named Sammy Carden, who earned the nickname “Nails” for the toughness he displayed as ACH Heart Institute doctors saved his life during a harrowing surgery.
While still in his mother’s womb, Sammy was diagnosed at ACH with an extremely rare condition: single ventricle with criss-cross atrioventricular connections. Rosie and Craig had no idea what the problem was when they made an appointment to speak with All Children’s cardiologist Kathryn Nardell, M.D. in 2012, reeling from the crushing recommendation by doctors not affiliated with All Children’s that the pregnancy be terminated.
|Sammy today at 18 months|
But Dr. Nardell spent four hours with the Cardens, reviewing echocardiogram images and drawing pictures of Sammy’s heart and anticipated surgeries. Rosie remembers saying, 'Just give it to me straight: We're going to be prepared and if his quality of life is such that he can't be here, then he can't be here. But I need you to tell me.' And she said, 'We can fix it.' “
That they did in a series of operations performed by Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs and Dr. James Quintessenza, including one to kick off the New Year on Jan. 3, 2013. Sammy came through with flying colors. And, with his G-Tube now removed, he’s become a thriving little boy.
“Sammy is an eating monster,” Rosie said. “He’s running around like a champion and talking, and is really, truly the happiest child I’ve ever met. We’ve been so fortunate.”
So have countless others who have been helped in some manner by the hospital. This year, that included more visits than ever from the Tampa Bay Rays, who signed a sponsorship agreement with ACH. Rookie pitcher Chris Archer even showed up twice on his own (even on the morning of a playoff game), while Bucs rookies made their traditional tour and there was even a surprise drop-in by “Special K” of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Here’s a look at 10 stories, in chronological order, that shine a light on the heart of All Children’s.
The crew from High Rise Window Cleaning in Clearwater provided patients with a thrill when they showed up to wash windows dressed as Spidey. The unusual sight had kids and parents turning their heads – and even made a splash on the NBC Nightly News.
The Sultan of Swat had a well-known soft spot for kids in need, having spent his childhood in a Baltimore orphanage. And back when his New York Yankees spent spring training in St. Petersburg, the Babe made a generous donation to help build the hospital that would one day become All Children’s. The story came to our attention this past spring, and we talked to Ruth's granddaughter, 96-year-old Julia Stevens, about her father’s kind gesture.
A pair of All Children’s doctors – Gregory Hale, M.D. and Allison Messina, M.D. – parted with their locks one evening with members of the Tampa Bay Lightning to help raise funds to help fight pediatric cancer. The event created a big buzz indeed for pediatric cancer awareness.
As a senior resident at George Washington Hospital in 1981, Dr. Paul Colombani found himself thrown into currents of history – playing a vital role in helping save the then-president Ronald Reagan as he clung to life following an assassination attempt. Now his leadership as Chair of Pediatric Surgery helps guide All Children’s.
With a wide array of instruments, songs and techniques, Kelly Tyrrell helps patients of all ages – from newborns to late teens – get through hard times with a finely tuned approach to healing through music.
The Sayegh Family of New York was devastated by the tragic loss of daughter/sister Jackie Sayegh Duggan in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But her loving spirit lives on in a multiple ways at All Children’s, thanks to a donation in her family made by the family after putting down roots in St. Petersburg recently.
The housekeeping staff of All Children’s has been lifting spirits of patients in a unique manner: by mastering the fine art of creating towel animals, and putting them in hospital rooms to brighten the day for children and parents.
It was a night to remember for patients – a gala homecoming dance that allowed them to leave behind their pain and uncertainty and just be kids for a change. The event, masterminded by the Child Life Department, drew massive support from vendors in the community to create a magical evening.
He played a key role in the growth of All Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and continues to shape ACH’s course as Chair of the Department of Pediatric Medicine. The journey started for Dr. Napolitano as a New Jersey teen, growing up in a family of first-responders.
A unique, worldwide program has come to All Children’s, giving kids a tangible way to “tell” the story of what they’ve endured so courageously. It’s a hit with patients, families and staff alike.