Stories of Care - Patients

Ella in hospital with turtle stuffed animal
Ella receiving her IV therapy with MacKids Signature Plush, Bubbles

Compassionate care attends to pediatric patient's holistic needs

“I can’t say enough about Mac. Truly, their staff is absolutely amazing. Ella is there all the time, and some of the procedures aren't pleasant and they know how to handle her and how to treat her.”
Ella in play room at McMaster Children's Hospital
Ella giving Bubbles an MRI in a playroom at McMaster Children's Hospital

On the bustling level three of McMaster Children's Hospital, amidst the whirl of doctors and nurses, there's a tiny, vivacious presence that radiates joy: 11-year-old Ella. Just scraping 3feet tall and 40 lbs with her backpack on, it’s a wonder to see so much personality packed into such a small package.

"She's full of sauce. She’s very stubborn and determined little girl," says Ella’s mother, Shelley.

Like many children, Ella had the occasional hospital visit throughout early childhood. While she was always an overall happy and healthy little girl, her mother, and her pediatrician Dr. Latchman, had ongoing concerns that Ella couldn’t seem to put on weight. She fell well below the DS chart. Shelley took Ella to a dietician and other specialists but nothing seemed to help and Ella remained worryingly lithe.

Unexpectedly, it was a bout of appendicitis that finally revealed the culprit of Ella’s weight gain woes.

When surgeons operated on Ella’s ruptured appendix, they saw that her intestines were painfully inflamed. She spent the next two weeks in the hospital and was referred to a GI specialist, Dr. Sherlock, who diagnosed Ella with Crohn’s Disease. Dr. Sherlock recommended an ongoing course of intravenous therapy with a medication every six to eight weeks.

The therapy has been so far successful, but Ella continues to see a variety of other specialists at McMaster Children’s Hospital including a nephrologist to check her kidneys, an endocrinologist to monitor her hormones, an orthopedic specialist and an optometrist to try to correct her esotropia strabismus (‘lazy eye’).

Shelley is grateful to have so much specialized care in one place and that Ella’s healthcare team are consistently proactive in investigating all potential concerns.“I can’t say enough about Mac. Truly, their staff is absolutely amazing,” says Shelley. "Ella is there all the time, and some of the procedures aren't pleasant and they know how to handle her and how to treat her.”

For example, recognizing Ella’s aversion to the needle poke that accompanies her IV therapy, the Child Life Specialists went out of their way to provide personal touches tailored to make Ella’s visits as pleasant as possible. From crafting Barbie-themed signs to engaging her in arts and crafts, they ensured each visit was sprinkled with familiar comforts and joyful surprises.

Ella's beloved Grover stuffy, a constant companion on her hospital visits, is not forgotten either. The team ensures the fuzzy muppet gets as much attention and care as Ella does—a small yet meaningful gesture that speaks volumes about the compassionate community at McMaster Children's Hospital.

It’s not just Ella who delights in the Child Life Specialists. Shelley appreciates the assurance and support the team provides through helpful tips, tricks and ideas to help parents like her find success in all the challenges posed by a child’s medical needs.

“They've seen and tried everything or they hear lots of stories so they share that,” says Shelley. “So it's like try this or have you tried this? and then eventually you get through it.”

Ella's journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of compassionate, comprehensive care. From the diligent specialists who leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of her well-being to the thoughtful Child Life Specialists who infuse each visit with familiarity and joy, McMaster Children’s Hospital exemplifies a profound commitment to holistic healing.

Ella's story echoes the resilience of young patients and the indispensable role of a nurturing health care community in which donors play a vital role.

See how you can make a difference in the lives of patients like Ella.

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