Healing Gifts

Healing Gifts

December 1st, 2011 Mary Beth Torgerson in Local Regional News

Erica Robinson, 11, was chosen as one of the 2012 Children's Miracle Network "Miracle Kids."

Tis the season for giving, and what better way to do that than to donate our time and resources to causes that count?

The Season of Miracles campaign at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital is a new awareness and fundraising effort to garner support for the hospital and its room renovation project to update the inpatient rooms and make them more kid friendly.

"We serve over 36,000 children a year, thousands of children stay overnight at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital at Erlanger and 95 percent of kids with cancer receive treatment here," says Ali Dunn, Erlanger Health System Foundations annual giving director. "By giving to Children's Hospital Foundation, you can help these families knowing your gifts will go towards strategic projects to attract the best possible medical professionals and to help kids feel more like kids, even at the hospital."

Dunn says the importance of doing the room renovations didn't hit home for her until she saw a mother of a hospital patient break down in tears after hearing about the project. "She brought it to life. It's depressing to be in a hospital and these little touches make such a big difference," says Dunn. "The woman's son had stayed more than 500 nights in the hospital and it was like his second home. She knew that the room renovations would make it easier for him."

Some of the improvements to the rooms will be new sleeper sofas where family can comfortably stay the night with sick children, built-in wall units with storage for medical supplies to create more space and make the room look less like a hospital and DVD players to bring in a small comfort of home and a welcome distraction.

Erica Robinson, an 11-year-old with a positive energy and knack for creativity, was chosen as one of the 2012 Children's Miracle Network "Miracle Kids," a group of exceptional young survivors picked by hospital staff every year to share their stories with the community and give a face to the value of supporting the hospital's ongoing improvement projects.

For more information on projects at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital at Erlanger and ways to give, visit erlangerfoundations.org.

Erica was diagnosed at birth with sickle cell disease - a disease that affects red blood cells and causes organ damage and bouts of what is sometimes referred to as a "pain crisis," an intense pain brought on by minor triggers such as cold temperatures or emotional stress.

In the last three years Erica's pain crises have increased, sending her to the hospital four times this year for at least a week each time.

"After you're in them for a few days, the hospital rooms can be really dreary and depressing," says Tina Robinson, Erica's mother. "I'm not the patient but I am crawling the walls after a few days because I just want to get out."

Tina says that being in a setting that is more cheery-looking will have a positive effect and help morale for future patients and their families.

"Sometimes it's a long time to be there, you know? When you're there for a long time, it's kind of boring. I miss my room at home," says Erica, explaining that her mother painted her bedroom at home pink and that even a different color on the hospital walls would make a difference. "I think the rooms could be a little happier. I think the children should have a happy place to heal."

Ways to Give

• Shop for miracles at the Erlanger Health System Foundation's e-store and purchase all or a share of a vital new part of a child's inpatient room such as an infant crib or an inviting, whimsical art mural.

• Volunteers are always needed and a list of opportunities is available online.

• Purchase "Chattanooga from A to Z" a book written by children, for children that features original artwork by young patients and other local children to portray a journey through each letter of the alphabet while showcasing points of interest and icons in our community. All proceeds go back to the hospital.

• Send your friends and family a personalized e-card for a donation to the Children's Hospital Foundation.

• If you have everything you want this holiday season, you can ask for gifts for the Children's Hospital in lieu of gifts for yourself.