Every month, Boston Children’s Hospital honors one of our own—a member of the Boston Children’s family who exemplifies the very best in our commitment to care, research, teaching and community.
Even in an age of instantaneous and near-effortless communications technology, some conversations are still better held in person. That’s something Neal Goodman, a resource specialist in Boston Children’s Developmental Medicine Center (DMC) and October's Employee of the Month, takes to heart.
In his role within the DMC, Neal is responsible for connecting families with children who have recently been diagnosed with an autism spectrum or other developmental disorder with the resources and services they need to care for their child. Considering that the DMC sees almost 2,000 new families and receives over 20,000 visits each year—and that Neal is the Center’s only resource specialist—it would be easy to rely on email and phone calls. And yet, wherever feasible, Neal makes it a point to meet face-to-face with the families seen at the DMC.
For the parents of a child recently diagnosed with a developmental disorder, those conversations are a much needed opportunity to talk openly about their concerns when it comes to their child’s diagnosis, about the resources and services they need and about the concrete steps they can take. He is a calm and patient presence, even on difficult cases where families have not followed through or not had the ability to follow through. In some cases, that has even meant re-doing his efforts. “Neal’s only priority is to meet the needs of the patient and family and he works tirelessly to accomplish it,” a colleague explains. “When a family is in crisis, even though his workload is always huge, he always makes himself available to do whatever needs to be done to assist the family.”
Recently, late one Friday afternoon, a doctor at the Center had to inform the parents of a three-year-old boy that their son was autistic. Processing the information as best they could, the parents asked the doctor about potential next steps; they were worried they wouldn’t be able to access the resources they needed because of limited resources and insurance coverage. Promising that Neal would be in touch with more concrete information, the doctor walked the family out only to bump into Neal who offered to meet with the family right then and there despite the late hour. For an hour, Neal walked the boy’s parents through their options and created a plan for navigating the complex support systems they would need.
“I cannot say enough good things about Neal,” another of Neal’s teammates says. “He is unfailingly pleasant, thorough, and responsive—all the more extraordinary given that he’s doing it all on his own. I am blown away by how well he has vetted and internalized the behavioral treatment resources in the region. If we had the technology, I’d vote for cloning him in a heartbeat.”