Spotlight: An advocate always makes a connection
When Will Morales arrived at Children's Hospital Boston for the Community Leaders Shadowing Program—which provides a firsthand look at the clinical care, programs and people that make Children's so unique—he didn't realize that the day would spark new partnerships. As Assistant Director of the Roxbury YMCA, Morales was invited to "walk in the shoes of a hospital clinician" and soon found himself doing rounds with Judith Palfrey, MD, chief of General Pediatrics.
Palfrey was eager to show Morales around the hospital, and the two began the experience by visiting one of Palfrey's young patients. As they approached the patient's room, the child got excited and greeted Palfrey with open arms. "It was touching to see how happy the child was with Dr. Palfrey and the clear level of trust between them," says Morales. "It was a wonderful moment that got me excited about the rest of my morning."
Palfrey, a lifelong advocate for children, also wanted to make sure Morales had a chance to meet with her colleague, Emily Davidson, MD, director of Inpatient Services for Coordinated Care Services (CCS). "It's always exciting to educate a community advocate like Will about the programs the hospital offers," says Davidson, who talked with Morales about the center and its patients. "The children who receive care in the CCS are often the sickest of the sick. They require around the clock care, and their parents often become experts in their child's condition."
As Morales listened to Davidson, the advocate in him emerged. "Where do the parents go for a break and support? When is someone healing them?" wondered Morales, who works closely with children and families, and promotes healthy living with programs for children with asthma and support groups for adults. Morales understands the many challenges parents face when they have children with special needs, and he and Davidson quickly realized the connection they had with one another. Both are now talking about ways the YMCA and Children's can collaborate to provide recreational opportunities for children and respite for parents.
While the goal of the Community Leaders Shadowing Program is to educate community leaders about Children's, the program accomplishes much more by linking community and hospital advocates. "When you bring community leaders together with medical experts, the fusion can lead to the health of families, as well as some great connections and innovative ideas to improve access to opportunities," says Palfrey.
To learn more about the Community Leaders Shadowing Program, contact Christine Locke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was reprinted from the Summer 2005 issue of the Office of Child Advocacy's kidvocate.