hi The making of a children’s hospital

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
2008 Report to the Community
The making
of a children’s
2Opening Letter
5 Making the dream a reality
6Putting Children and
Families First
8Exceptional Physicians
10 Community Partnership
12 Visionary Leaders
14Philonthrapic Support
23The Core of a
Comprehensive Center
24Building a Reputation
Through Leading-Edge Medical Care
26Creating an Infrastructure
of Caring Based on Quality
and Strong Clinical Outcomes
28Designing a Hospital
From the Inside Out
39At the Heart of
the Hospital
40The Physicians
42 Department Highlights
46The Nursing Staff
53 Closing Remarks
54Outside the Hospital Walls
It’s what’s inside
that counts.
One thing has always been clear about
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital:
It is not about the brick and mortar
but about the care within.
Dear Community Members:
It is my pleasure to introduce you to the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Since opening in 1993, we have
been a “hospital within a hospital,” sharing space in several buildings across the Spectrum Health Medical Center.
Surprisingly, this has been more of a strength than a limitation. It has allowed our hospital’s resources—a good
percentage of which have come from community philanthropy—to go directly where they would make the
most difference: Recruiting the nation’s top pediatric subspecialists, creating innovative programming, delivering
compassionate, family-centered care, treating the underserved and allowing families in West Michigan to
receive high-quality pediatric specialty services close to home.
As a result, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has
On the following pages, we’ll show you what’s inside
become a community resource, a regional referral
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital: Courageous patients
center and a national leader. And it is from this
and families. Passionate physicians. Compassionate nurses.
foundation that the new Helen DeVos Children’s
Visionary leaders. Best-in-field specialists. We’ll show you
Hospital will be built.
what’s behind the hospital: A committed community, a
Scheduled for completion in 2011, the new hospital
will not only change the skyline and raise the profile
of children’s health care in Grand Rapids, but it
also will offer expanded capacity, family-centered
patient rooms, state-of-the-art pediatric surgery and
radiology suites, and much more. Amazing as the
new building will be, the new building is just that —
a building. As anyone who has ever dealt with Helen
culture of philanthropy and an administrative team willing to
back decisions that make as much heart sense as business
sense. We’ll show you what goes into our innovative programming and how we translate our philosophy of putting
children first, always, into real life. And we’ll explain how,
in the reverse of conventional wisdom, we are continuing
to build a children’s hospital from the inside out.
DeVos Children’s Hospital knows, it’s what’s inside
that counts.
“We are building care,
not just a hospital.”
The new 206-bed, 14-story
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,
scheduled to open in 2011,
will set a new standard of
children’s care in Michigan.
Making the dream a
In building a children’s hospital, where do you start? How do you turn a dream
into reality? At Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, we started with five key assumptions—
all of which remain vital to the hospital today.
Children and Families Would Come First.
This drives everything that we do — from how we approach care to how we are designing our new hospital.
Our Physicians Would Be Exceptional.
Not only are our doctors excellent clinicians, but they also are committed to making
a difference in the lives of children every day. The name we use to describe them says it all: physician champions.
Our Community Would Be Our Partner.
From the beginning, we never saw the hospital as separate from the community but, rather, part of the fabric of the community itself.
Our Leaders Would Be Visionary.
Our leaders are both careful stewards of the hospital’s mission and dynamic thinkers committed to the future of children’s medicine.
Philanthropic Support Would Be Integral to All We Do.
Although every children’s hospital relies on philanthropy to help fund programming and ensure access to care for all children,
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is uniquely supported by the culture of philanthropy in Grand Rapids.
Putting Children and Families First
When it came to envisioning what Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital could be, we knew
we wanted to create an approach to care that put children and families first. In doing so,
we challenged existing paradigms of children’s care and turned conventional wisdom on
its side. Often, we began with just two simple questions: “What if?” and “Why not?”
For example:
We asked:
“What if children no longer had to feel pain during
routine procedures such as spinal taps and endoscopies?”
>> And so our Pediatric Sedation Team — now one
“Why not make play a part of healing?”
>> As a result, children who come to Helen DeVos
“Why not let parents hold their children during
certain procedures?”
>> Parents and children are now happier, and the
“Why not make compassion a job requirement?”
>> And it became a routine interview question and
radiologists are getting more accurate test results.
part of our hiring process.
“What if we treated parents as the experts
they are rather than as visitors?”
>> Now parents are key members of the child’s
“What if we let each child tell us what he or she needs?”
>> As a result, listening has become one of our
of the largest in the country — was pioneered.
Children’s Hospital actually look forward to their
chemotherapy sessions and quarterly checkups.
And we discovered a better way.
care team.
most valued medical tools.
“Why not develop pediatric subspecialty
programs right here in Grand Rapids?”
>> And so the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
was born.
“Our bottom line is, if we can minimize pain and
make a child’s life better,
we will do it.”
“Doing the
right thing for the kids —
that’s what this hospital is all about.
And this is the reason we are here.”
Exceptional Physicians
Instrumental in making the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital real was a core group of
people who could see the future clearly and knew that a children’s hospital had to be in it.
Driving the vision the hardest were area doctors like Robert Connors, M.D., Jim Fahner, M.D.,
Len Radecki, M.D., and Dominic Sanfilippo, M.D.
As Dr. Fahner tells it, he had an “aha” moment about children’s
subspecialty program. By 1990, several subspecialties —
health care in Grand Rapids while he was a fellow training
including oncology and intensive care — took root. “There
in Ann Arbor in the late ‘80s. He had just diagnosed a young
was great support from the pediatricians in the community,”
patient from West Michigan with leukemia, and it became
explains Dr. Fahner. “Our weak link, however, was facilities.
clear that this child would need to remain in Ann Arbor for
We had to retrofit into what space was available. In fact,
treatment. Complicating matters further, the mom was preg-
we saw our first patients in a former teen lounge.”
nant with her second child and just days from her due date.
But because her firstborn needed immediate medical attention,
advisor to the DeVos family, suggested that a small group
the family had left Grand Rapids for specialty care hours away.
of doctors meet with Rich and Helen DeVos — leading com-
The mother ended up giving birth in Ann Arbor, far from
munity philanthropists who are committed to raising the
her trusted physicians and the family’s support system.
standard of health care in the community — to explore
“I saw firsthand how families were uprooted from home,
school and community, which only added an extra layer of
funding for a hospital.
“They asked us what our dreams were, and we just poured
stress in the face of a devastating diagnosis,” Dr. Fahner
our hearts out to them,” recalls Dr. Fahner. “It was a very
recalls. “It was clear that there was a compelling need for
emotional meeting. Rich and Helen made it clear that their
specialty children’s care in West Michigan.”
priority was services, not brick and mortar.”
He wasn’t alone in this thought. Area physicians met the
The DeVos family gave an initial $5 million to help start
same frustration time and again. “I spent 12 years referring
programs and to find more space within Butterworth Hospital.
patients to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Chicago — it was time for
“At the time, this was landmark in terms of health care
a change,” says pediatrician Ed Cox, M.D.
philanthropy,” says Dr. Fahner. “At the outset, Rich DeVos
The administration at Butterworth Hospital also agreed that
the timing was right to lay the groundwork for a pediatric
Luis Tomatis, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon and physician
said something that still holds true today: ‘I want you to
never settle for mediocrity. Always strive for magnificence.’”
“One of the beautiful things about the DeVos family is
“Are pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists
their hands-on involvement in the hospital. Not only are
born or made? I think mostly born. Consistently, you
Rich and Helen invested, but their children and their
see two traits in doctors who dedicate their lives to working
with children:
Kindness and patience.”
They all understand
how much this hospital means
to the community.”
grandchildren are as well.
Community Partnership
Serving the community and its families is the mission of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“The hospital is a true investment in and partner with the
entrepreneurial spirit. People don’t just ask, ‘What can we do
community,” says Robert Connors, M.D., hospital president.
to make a difference?’ They get things done.”
“We are in this together — and have been from the start.
Grand Rapids had the key elements in place — a strong pediatric
Rapids, its service area includes a much wider area. Matthew
primary care community, a strong neonatal ICU, a high standard
Davis, vice president, operations, explains, “For the hospital,
of medical care and tremendous philanthropy — which meant
community is defined as children in need. We serve nearly
we had a strong foundation on which to build.”
1 million children who come from almost every county in
Equally important, and far more remarkable, is the nature
Michigan, with most coming from a 37-county region that
and character of Grand Rapids itself. A study conducted several
includes West and Central Michigan and reaches to the tip of
years ago found that Grand Rapids was the second-most
the lower peninsula.”
philanthropic city in the country (after Salt Lake City), which
The hospital has also established a Partners in Children’s
surprised everyone but Grand Rapidians, who for generations
Health network of 23 community hospitals, which has
have quietly made philanthropy a part of their lives. Whether
become the framework of a regional system of care. “Our
it is the DeVos family second generation’s recent donation of
philosophy of creating these relationships with community
$50 million for building the new facility or the many families
hospitals is that the best care is close to home for our
who make annual gifts or support special fundraising programs,
patients and families,” says Davis. “Through this network,
the motivation comes from the same place: a commitment to
we provide educational services to nurses at community
giving back to the community.
hospitals which, in turn, enhances their ability both to care
“You don’t see this in every community,” says Richard C. Breon,
for children in their local communities and connect them
President & CEO, Spectrum Health. “Grand Rapids very
to services at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital through
much reflects the spirit of its founding fathers, who not only
improved coordination of care.”
encouraged philanthropic support, but also had a real can-do,
While Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s home is in Grand
“In order to deliver the best care possible,
we ask questions and listen to
families because they know their child best.”
help as
many sick kids as I can.”
“My mission is to
Visionary Leaders
Pulling together all the individuals who make up Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital —
the visionaries and dreamers, the innovators and groundbreakers, the caregivers, the
fundraisers, the mentors and advocates — are the leaders. These are the people who help
translate dreams into practical reality, who focus the passion of physicians and who see to
it that innovations get funded. They ensure that nurses have the support they need, that
caregivers get recognized, and that the energy, commitment and vision of everyone who
believes in Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital get harnessed and moving in the same direction.
It’s no small task, but for Richard C. Breon, President & CEO,
president, Spectrum Health Grand Rapids, from Boston to
Spectrum Health, it’s his second time around building a new
Grand Rapids in 2005. “Helping to lead a system that has
children’s hospital, so he knows the ropes and understands
a vibrant children’s hospital was a huge draw for me,” he
the landscape. And what he knows is that the hospital is
explains. “You get this opportunity once every 30 years to
not just about children, it’s about the community. “The new
build something that can impact so many, and I am pleased
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital fulfills a commitment we’ve
to be part of its future — it is a true community treasure.”
made to the community. It says we are committed to providing
the full continuum of care, to keeping people local and to
pital front and center. “Our vision is to be among the nation’s
reaching a broad service area with specialty care,” he says.
best comprehensive children’s hospitals. It’s a bold statement,
He points out that the new hospital is part of a larger
strategy, connected with both Spectrum Health’s integrated
but I believe we have the talent, passion and commitment.”
Adds Hospital President Robert Connors, M.D. “Another
health system model of care and the community’s growing
thing that distinguishes us is the fact that most of our
health care corridor. In addition, the new Helen DeVos
leaders, myself included, still maintain an active clinical
Children’s Hospital, as part of the Spectrum Health family,
practice. This allows us to keep our fingers on the pulse
will continue the tradition of providing a value proposition.
of children and families. We can make the best possible
This, in part, is what attracted Matthew Van Vranken,
decisions because we understand how a hospital works
executive vice president, Spectrum Health System, and
As a leader, one of his jobs is to keep the vision for the hos-
from the inside out.”
“So much of the success of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital comes
incredible passion our physicians
have for children. They continually challenge us
from the
to feel their passion, and that, I think, continually makes us
a better hospital and a better community member.”
“I find it so rewarding to be able to
help navigate Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s
it truly is a
community treasure.”
future because
Philanthropic Support
Why is philanthropy such a vital part of a children’s hospital? The short answer is because
children’s care costs more, yet is covered at lower rates, explains Vicki Weaver, president
of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Spectrum Health Foundations. In addition,
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is the largest provider of care for uninsured children in
West Michigan and the second largest in the state. This, combined with other factors,
means that the hospital is dependent on philanthropy to help fill in gaps. For example:
Reimbursement rates are lower for children’s services
At Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, philanthropy both
than for adult services, despite the fact that pediatric
fills in the gaps and provides the funding for innovation and
subspecialists typically require additional training.
advancements. Weaver cites the example of the hospital’s
Because the hospital treats children of all sizes, equipment
ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) machine,
has to come in all sizes as well, which raises costs.
a sophisticated and expensive piece of equipment that few
The nurse-to-patient ratio is higher at a children’s hospital.
hospitals have and few children need. However, when it’s
Many children are unable to articulate symptoms or
needed, it is literally a life-and-death situation — without
describe their condition so they need greater attention.
the machine, 50 percent of children with a particular lung
Children’s hospitals offer unique services, for example
disorder would not survive. Because of generous donors,
Child Life Services and the Center for Child Protection,
the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation bought
that are minimally reimbursed (or not at all) but are still
the machine for the hospital. “It was important that the
vital to children’s well-being.
community have access to this lifesaver,” explains Weaver.
Children’s hospitals help train the next generation of
caregivers, which requires a bigger investment of resources.
Bottom line, building and maintaining a children’s hospital
Targeting specific innovations is one kind of philanthropy;
creating an endowment — something that Helen DeVos
Children’s Hospital is now establishing — is another. “An
is never a business decision. “We do it because kids need
endowment creates an ongoing stream of income that covers
the services. We do it because it is the right thing to do,”
generations to come. It can be used to bring in new specialists,
says Hospital President Robert Connors, M.D.
secure advancements over time and build a legacy for the
donor. An endowment says this hospital is here to stay.”
“The strength of family was something that was very
important to the DeVos family back when they gave the first gift
that started the hospital. They wanted to establish a legacy for the
future that their children and grandchildren could carry on.
they’ve done exactly what
they set out to do. The most recent donation has come
With the new hospital,
from the DeVos children in honor of their mother, Helen.”
“A children’s hospital is built not on a business model,
integral to the
very fabric of our community.”
but a lifesaving model — making it
Team: Staff includes 19 full- and part-time certified child
life specialists, one child life assistant, one schoolteacher,
administrative support and more than 50 volunteers.
Scope: Expanded from the inpatient units
and pediatric hematology/oncology clinic to the
emergency room, radiology, surgery, neonatal center
and outpatient clinics.
Program: A pet recreation team of 18 dogs and
their trainers — complete with ID badges and leashes —
is now a regular activity.
At the New Hospital: Will feature an open area in
the lobby complete with a stage to allow performances
and community group activities for patients.
Children unable to attend can tune into the hospital’s
own closed-circuit television station.
She’s part best friend, part magician and part super-cool aunt who lets you break the rules
just enough to feel special but not enough to feel scared. Meet Jodi Bauers, manager, child
life, the department that typifies everything that Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital stands for—
innovative, leading-edge care that puts the child’s needs first.
Of course, how she and her team do it, is less dependent on
“The children tell us what they need. I’ve found that every child
technology and medicine and much more dependent on good
and family have something to teach. Sometimes, during a particularly
old-fashioned imagination, the gift of listening, the power of play
difficult time, I help parents remember that we are students to
and plenty of TLC.
their wise little teachers,” she says.
“Our goal is to normalize things for patients and not allow a serious
Often, the lessons are profound. “Several years ago, we had a
illness to break their spirits,” says Jodi. “We educate kids about
little girl who had just undergone a grueling 60 days of treatment.
what to expect during a procedure in terms they can understand,
I asked her to draw a picture for an event, and she drew an incredible
help them cope, create a safe environment for them to share their
rainbow. That she believed in rainbows after all she went through
fears and express their joys, and help them have fun during their
taught me that there is a rainbow in every child. To this day, I keep
time at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.”
that drawing above my desk as a reminder. Our job is to bring out
This entails everything from distracting a child with a glitter wand
the rainbow in every child.”
during an IV insertion; making art out of medical devices such as
syringes as a way to demystify them; building a teepee or a lemonade
stand in the hospital during the summer because that’s what the
child might be doing if he or she were at home; using “bravery
beads” to tell the story of the child’s treatment; getting tickets to a
professional sporting event for a teenage fan; and helping an angry
child use clay to build and then smash a model of his tummy tumor.
Team: Staff includes 11 physicians, one physician assistant
and one nurse practitioner.
Scope: Pioneering cardiovascular surgery, including
hybrid care — a blend of interventional cardiology
and cardiac surgery, often used to treat complex
congenital heart conditions.
Programming: Physicians participate in numerous
research projects, including developing new
catheterization devices.
At the New Hospital: Will feature dedicated
pediatric catheterization labs along with
designated surgical suites.
To pay his way through medical school, Ronald Grifka, M.D., worked summers as a plumber
and an electrician. So when it came time to decide his specialty, he chose cardiology. “I realized
that the heart dealt with moving liquid and electricity through the body — and that I already
had an in-depth understanding of how that worked. It was a logical choice,” he says.
For the first 17 years of his career, Dr. Grifka practiced medicine at
Explains Dr. Hillman, “Even though there are several subspecial-
Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, which not only was the largest
ties within the pediatric cardiology department, we function as a
children’s hospital in the country, but also was ranked among the
team. And these great working relationships translate into great
top three in cardiology. There, he developed a national reputation
patient care.”
in pediatric interventional cardiology.
But assembling the team was just the beginning. Dr. Grifka is also
In 1999, he was invited to Grand Rounds at Helen DeVos Children’s
serious about developing the research arm of the hospital — a
Hospital and saw firsthand what he calls “the excitement of DeVos.”
cornerstone of all great medical centers — to include primary
He stayed in touch with the faculty, and when plans for the new
research and field testing. He currently is laying the groundwork
hospital began to coalesce, he chose to go down that path with
for a heart transplant program.
them. “It is a unique opportunity to be part of the ground floor
of something great,” he says.
This includes expanding the pediatric cardiology department
And, oh yes, he even has found time to develop a patented device
used in pediatric cardiac catheterization procedures. “The time is
right,” he says, “to make a difference.”
significantly. One of the experts to join him was Neal Hillman, M.D.,
who specializes in pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.
substitute parents
Team: Staff includes 13 anesthesiologists.
Scope: Participating in more than 9,600 surgeries annually.
Programming: Expanded services include
postoperative pain management.
At the New Hospital: Will feature induction rooms
adjacent to surgical suites to allow parents to remain
with their children as long as possible.
It’s a heartbreaking moment for parents — watching their child being wheeled into the operating
room knowing that they can no longer be by his or her side. But that’s when physicians like
John Huntington, M.D., step in. As a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist, he believes
one of the biggest responsibilities of his department is to stand in for parents during surgery.
“In almost every area of the hospital, parents can be with their
Dr. Huntington and his group also have actively been involved in
children 24/7, if necessary. That is simply not the case in the
the design of the new hospital facility so that pediatric anesthe-
operating room,” Dr. Huntington explains. “So I see my role as
siology becomes even safer for the child and more reassuring for
that of a substitute parent or caregiver — shepherding the child
the parent.
through the surgery process and watching over him or her with
the same care that a parent would.”
“We are adding specialized equipment with imaging capabilities
in order to more closely monitor the child. We also are adding
This translates into a presurgical evaluation of the patient
several induction rooms where we can administer anesthesia
(sometimes days in advance if the child is high risk, for example
outside of the operating room, which means parents can, if they
a cardiac patient), speaking with parents about their concerns,
wish, remain with their child a little bit longer. I’m a parent myself,
administering the anesthesia, accompanying the child into the
and that’s what I would want if my child were undergoing surgery.
operating room, monitoring the child throughout the procedure,
I’m only glad we can be instrumental in bringing this to the
and then returning with the child to the recovery room to be
parents at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.”
reunited with the relieved parents.
“When I first meet with the parents, I reassure them and let
them know that my only job is their child,” he says. “I tell them
that I will advocate for their child and make sure their child gets
everything he or she needs.”
of a Comprehensive Children’s Center
Being a truly comprehensive children’s hospital calls for
an infrastructure that can support its dreams.
First, it requires excellence in three areas: Clinical care, education and research. Many hospitals have one or two.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, as a cornerstone of Grand Rapids’ new medical corridor, has the capabilities to excel at all three.
This trifecta elevates the hospital to a national level — able to set the standards for health care through clinical best practices;
influence the next generation of physicians; and support innovations that will shape the future of pediatric health care.
Second, it requires a focus on quality — measurable outcomes that can help the hospital continuously refine its practices
and improve at all levels, from patient satisfaction to surgical procedures.
And third, it requires a building that can not only support the delivery of care, but can also enhance it.
Building a Reputation
Through Leading-Edge Medical Care
Clinical excellence and innovation built the reputation of
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. As a result, the hospital
has offered pediatric residency programs for more than 30
has become a referral center serving patients throughout
years, and at any given time, 30 to 35 pediatric residents will
Michigan, with approximately 7,600 inpatient admissions,
be training at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Why devote
38,000 pediatric emergency room visits and 192,000
significant resources to medical education? “Because of
outpatient visits annually.
the tremendous value it brings,” says Jeri Kessenich, M.D.,
Its pioneering services include:
residency director. “With a teaching program, you attract the
Among the nation’s first freestanding pediatric blood
best and the brightest, and have access to the newest trends
avoidance programs
and research. Young doctors challenge the status quo; they
The region’s only bone marrow transplant program
have an enthusiasm for new approaches; they collaborate
One of the largest children’s cancer and blood disorders
with their colleagues across the spectrum so that there is
programs in the country, with more than 700 visits per month
a cross-pollination of ideas. In addition, two-thirds of our
The only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in the
residents bond with the medical community here and decide
western and northern areas of the state
to stay after they have completed their training, so we also
One of only 115 nationally accredited cystic fibrosis
get to keep the best and the brightest.”
centers in the U.S.
The nation’s 10th largest neonatal center
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE. Changing the future of
A comprehensive pediatric nephrology program,
pediatric medicine also involves stepping out of the hospital
including kidney transplantations
and into the laboratory. There, doctors and scientists can study
The only full-service pediatric radiology department
the most enigmatic childhood diseases, develop better solutions
in West Michigan
to common pediatric problems, test the efficacy of new
The only pediatric sleep disorder laboratory in West
medications and pioneer new ideas in children’s medicine.
Michigan managed by pediatric specialists
The new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to being
A Level 1 trauma center with pediatric surgeons available
a leader in pediatric research — both clinical and laboratory —
around the clock
and is devoting significant resources toward this goal.
TOP: Brad Betz, M.D., medical director,
pediatric radiology, reviews a diagnostic
image in West Michigan’s only pediatric
radiology department. Nearly 75,000
diagnostic imaging procedures annually
are conducted by the team of pediatric
radiologists, physician assistants, nurses
and two child life specialists. Pediatric
radiologists are knowledgable about
childhood development, illnesses and
clinical management issues, which are
vital for accurate diagnosis.
BOTTOM LEFT: Seven-year-old Luci
Nieboer of Muskegon may be undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, but that doesn’t keep her
from smiling. She’s living proof that fun
doesn’t have to stop when a child enters
the children’s hospital. Some of her
favorite activities at the hospital? Wagon
rides, coloring, board games and crafts.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Holding hands with
her newborn child is more important
than ever to mom Amy Trevino of
Holland. Weighing just over two pounds
when born 13 weeks early, Keighan is
one of 1,200 premature or critically ill
babies annually who receive highly
specialized care in the nation’s 10th
largest neonatal center.
Creating an Infrastructure of Caring
Based on Quality and Strong Clinical Outcomes
Sometimes, the things you can’t see are just as important as
VALUE. “As part of a comprehensive, integrated health care
those you can. And in the same way that a building’s infra-
system, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital can deliver high-
structure holds it together, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s
value care — that is, excellent care at costs significantly lower
core of quality, value and outcomes supports the hospital’s mis-
than our peers. We call this our value proposition,” explains
sion and reinforces its commitment to becoming a destination
Matthew Davis, vice president, operations. “We have the
for health care for children in Michigan and beyond.
resources, the systems and the people to deliver care to
maximize patient outcomes.”
QUALITY. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has aggressively
pursued quality initiatives even though the pediatric quality
OUTCOMES. Outcomes at their most basic show if a specific
reporting system is neither standardized nor mandatory. Says
medical intervention works. They can also be used to
Tom Peterson, M.D., medical director, quality. “First, we have
benchmark performance and make comparisons between
the commitment from Dr. Connors and the entire administrative
other facilities offering the same procedure. In every sense,
team to go as far as we need to go to ensure quality. Second,
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s outcomes are superior.
we have put together many quality and safety teams to build
For example, the hospital has implemented standards of
a quality infrastructure at the hospital. And third, we are
care such as the consistent use of beta agonists and steroids
committed to transparency which, in essence, means sharing
to provide better outcomes for asthma patients. Protocols
our results publicly — something very few organizations are
to reduce ventilator-assisted pneumonia rates and blood-
willing or able to do yet.” Another measure to improve quality:
stream infections are also under way.
computerized medical record keeping and physician order entry.
“Only when you have a strong infrastructure can you recruit the
highest caliber physicians and maintain the reputation of the hospital.”
LEFT: Roberta Stone, R.D., C.D.E.,
demonstrates an insulin pump
with 14-year-old Jalen Humphreys.
Diagnosed with Type I diabetes at
age 10, he is one of more than 800
patients managing their diabetes
with an insulin pump through one
of Michigan’s leading pediatric
diabetes programs.
CENTER: Ziya Weaver’s kidneys have
not worked sufficiently since birth.
Diagnosed with kidney failure, she
requires hemodialysis four times
a week in addition to aggressive
feedings through a feeding tube.
Timothy E. Bunchman, M.D., division
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital takes an active role in national organizations
dedicated to improving the quality of children’s health care, including:
Membership in this distinguished
Since 1989, the Helen DeVos Children’s
program ensures that patients have
Hospital has been a member of this col-
An organization of children’s hospitals
access to leading-edge treatment and
laboration of health care professionals
with 218 members in the United States,
treatment protocols. It also signifies
dedicated to improving the quality and
Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom,
that a program meets or exceeds a
safety of medical care for newborn infants
Italy, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico,
stringent list of criteria for caring for
and their families. Today, more than 700
NACHRI promotes the health and well-
children with cancer, including nursing,
neonatal intensive care units around the
being of all children and their families
pharmacy, board-certified physicians,
world participate, all of which have access
through support of children’s hospitals
surgery, radiology, laboratory and
to the network’s database. The database
and health systems that are committed to
radiation oncology.
provides information about the care and
excellence. NACHRI works to ensure access
outcomes of high-risk newborn infants,
to health care and the continuing ability
as well as unique, reliable and confidential
for children’s hospitals to provide needed
data for quality management, process im-
services, research, training and advocacy.
chief, along with members of the nephrology, dialysis and transplantation
team, are overseeing her care until she
reaches 25 pounds. At that time she
will undergo a kidney transplant.
RIGHT: Matthew Davis, vice president,
operations (on left), meets with Tom
Peterson, M.D. , medical director,
quality. As leaders, they implement
and oversee initiatives that continually
improve quality and outcomes at
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
provement, internal audit and peer review.
Designing a Hospital
From the Inside Out
How do you design a hospital from the inside out? Hospital
Over a two-year period, more than 220 individuals partici-
President Dr. Connors puts it simply: “We looked at all the
pated in more than 50 design groups. They provided input
ways you care for people, then made the building reflect it.”
on patient rooms, family and public spaces, information
It makes perfect sense. Instead of erecting a building and
then retrofitting services into the allotted space, the building
has been designed around the way people use it, taking into
technology and the clinical care models. Some design innovations directly based on their input include:
account delivery of services, patient privacy, family needs
and best practices.
at the bedside.
Dividing patient rooms into three distinct zones — patient,
family, caregiver—and allotting the majority of space to
“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build
something great in this part of the country.”
Designing patient care units to maximize caregiver time
the patient zone because that’s where patients and families
spend most of their time.
Accommodating families by building only private rooms with
their own bathrooms; a sitting area for school-age children;
nourishment centers on each unit; and a refrigerator in
The process itself was anything but simple — mostly
each room.
because before the architects even put pen to paper, the
hospital solicited input from all its key constituents: caregivers,
Equipping each patient room to sleep two parents, but
administration, children, family members, physicians and
also having four additional rooms on the 11th fl oor to
community members. “We wanted the people who used
accommodate extended families.
the hospital, especially the children and their families, to
keep us focused on what was most important.”
Installing single-baby rooms in the NICU, which allows
babies to be in a light- and sound-controlled environment.
have a say,” explains Dr. Connors. “We knew they would
Relocating the radiology department closer to surgery and
the emergency department so that children don’t have to
travel long distances for testing.
Building presurgical induction rooms so parents can stay
with their children during anesthesia administration.
Core Design Principles of
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Keep families together, involved and informed
Bring care to the patient and family
Minimize pain, fear and anxiety
Ensure patient and family safety and security
Respect privacy and dignity
“The new building is a
symbol of what is most
important — the people
who provide the care.
Quality care will be the
focus, and the design
will enhance that.”
When going through a medical crisis, people often feel that others can’t help them because
they “haven’t been there.” This is not the case at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Not only are
most of our doctors, nurses and staff parents themselves — who understand the gut-wrenching
intensity of having a sick or injured child — but many have also actually used the services.
They have been there, and that makes the help they offer all the more empathic.
Take Candie Ritsema, a nurse on the pediatric oncology unit. After
A year after the birth of her children, she volunteered for the Family
being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 12, she
Advisory Board, as well as for the Parent-to-Parent partnership.
spent the better part of a year on the floor where she now works.
“I was so grateful for the lives of our boys, and I have such a
“During that time, everyone made it so easy despite what I was
fondness for this place that I wanted to give back,” she says. The
going through,” she recalls. “They anticipated my needs, talked with
staff noticed her skill and natural empathy and began sending her
me in the way I needed to be spoken to and made the experience
to conferences as a parent representative which, in turn, evolved
all very ‘normal’ for me and my parents.” The remarkableness of
into a paid position at the hospital.
her care became even clearer when she had to travel to another
facility for a stem cell rescue. “It just didn’t feel like home, and
that’s when I knew that I wanted to be a nurse.”
Today, Candie works side by side with many of the doctors and
nurses who once treated her. “It feels like I’m living a dream because
it’s what I really want to do — help make a bad experience better.
Many people say to me, ‘Oh, I love children too much to ever
work with kids who have cancer.’ But I tell them that it is because
I love children so much that I do this work.”
On a different floor of the hospital, Amy Nyberg brings a similar
“I’ve been there” perspective to her work as a parent advocate
and a March of Dimes Family NICU Support® Specialist.
“There are a lot of ways I can support parents who have babies
in the NICU — as an educator, as an advocate, as a facilitator, as
a liaison between medical staff and family — but often, I can make
the most difference by being a friend,” she says.
“For many parents, I am a source of hope. My kids made it
through. I physically made it through the roller coaster of such
a touch-and-go time. I also know what it is like to lose a child,
so I can help parents through that experience, as well.”
Recently, Amy worked with a family who had a similar situation
to hers — triplets, with the only surviving baby experiencing
a long stay in the NICU. After discharge, the mom sent Amy
an e-mail in which she said, “It is really nice to know there is
The road to this position started the day she gave birth to triplets
someone in the neonatal unit who understands what I am going
four months early. Only two survived, and weighing in at 1 lb., 5 oz.
through. Thank you for being there.”
and 1 lb., 7 oz, they spent 120 days on the Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit (NICU). Amy spent the same number of days and nights
at the the unit and during that time, she says, “The staff became
our family.”
When Carlos and Rose Hernandez’s great-granddaughter Jerica was born in March 2006 with
severe, multiple congenital heart problems, there was talk of sending Jerica someplace else for
the series of complex surgeries she needed. Carlos and Rose — Jerica’s legal guardians — would
have none of that. “From the moment I met Jerica’s doctors at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,
I felt really confident that they were the ones who could help her,” says Carlos.
The source of this confidence, says Rose, despite the fact that one
The Hernandez’s belief was well-placed, and the operation was
procedure in particular had never been performed at the hospital
a success. Today, Jerica is a strong, healthy toddler who smiles
before, was nothing less than “everything.”
constantly and brings untold joy to her great-grandparents. “We
She explains: “It was the knowledge of the surgeons, the compassion
of the nursing staff, the way that every question we had was
treated with respect and explained clearly in layman’s language…
we knew we were in the right place.”
And so, buffeted by the Hernandez’s unflagging belief in her physicians, Jerica became the first patient at Helen DeVos Children’s
can’t emphasize enough that Jerica has given us life and hope,
and when you have hope, the whole world is lighter,” says Rose.
Having the kind of people and resources available to them in their
own community made all the difference during Jerica’s difficult
first year of life. “We tell everyone, why would you go anywhere
else when you have the best right here?”
Hospital to undergo what is termed a “hybrid” procedure.
This was a complicated double surgery that involved surgeons
from two different specialties — Interventional Cardiologist Ronald
Grifka, M.D., and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Neal Hillman, M.D. —
performing back-to-back procedures, including a cardiac catheterization and a valve repair.
Team: Staff includes nine neonatologists
and 11 nurse practitioners.
Scope: 10th largest neonatal intensive care unit in the country.
Programming: Home to the March of Dimes
Family Support Project, which provides a part-time
NICU family support specialist; a parent-professional
action committee that guides program selection,
development and implementation; parent-to-parent
support; and educational materials.
At the New Hospital: Will feature 40 private rooms to
provide privacy for families and allow the environment to be
customized to meet the individual patient’s needs.
In describing the doctor who has been instrumental in growing the neonatal intensive care
unit (NICU) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital into the 10th largest in the nation, it might be
tempting to see him as a sort of big-hearted medical magician. And although he oversees
the tiniest babies, whose survival is often described by their parents as nothing short of a miracle,
Ed Beaumont, M.D., is, at his core, a scientist who has made caring for newborns his life work.
Think of him as compassion channeled through technology.
Dr. Beaumont came to Grand Rapids 25 years ago to join the three
This evidence-based approach even extends to the involvement of
other neonatologists whose practice became the foundation for the
parents and the support of families. “More than 20 years ago, we
hospital’s neonatology program. “From a practice style standpoint
broke ground by publishing information about the importance of
Grand Rapids was a good choice for me,” he says. “It also gave me
parent support and its relationship to improved outcomes,” he says.
the opportunity to teach residents and medical students.” And most
“Today, what we pioneered has become both one of the strengths
important, it was an opportunity to create a state-of-the-art NICU
of our unit and the standard at hospitals nationwide.”
in a community that needed and could sustain one.
Today, the program handles more cases than any other hospital
The unit is also part of the Vermont-Oxford Network Quality Improvement Collaborative, an elite group of approximately 53 NICUs across
in the state of Michigan and accounts for nearly 20 percent of
the country that share ideas and protocols, participate in studies,
admissions at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
support each other and collect information.
He is quick to point out that the NICU’s size is not what’s impressive;
As for the new hospital, Dr. Beaumont wants to push the technology
the fact that high volumes are correlated with improved outcomes
envelope even further with state-of-the-art information management
is what matters.
systems. He envisions video cameras at each bedside, increased
Dr. Beaumont applied this scientific approach to all aspects of neonatal care. “In setting up the program, we looked at what has been
proven to deliver the best medicine — what kind of ventilators work
electronic sharing of information, new communication devices and
an upgraded infrastructure that can anticipate and support the
next generation of technology.
best under different circumstances, what kind of monitoring devices
“That said, the new building is a symbol of what is most important —
have proven most effective, what kind of room configurations
the people who provide the care. The quality of care will be the
provide the safest environment for the babies, what kind of health
focus, and the new design will enhance that.”
care team structure delivers the most efficient and nurturing care,”
he says. “We stay current on technology, and if it has proven to
work, we will go after it as fast as we can.”
life savers
Team: Staff includes a team of 150 nurses and more than
50 emergency medicine-trained physicians with three
pediatric emergency medicine physicians directing care.
Scope: Part of the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied
Research Network (PECARN), the first federally funded
multi-institutional network for research in pediatric
emergency medicine in the United States.
Programming: Because children and parents
want the pain of a broken bone alleviated fast,
the emergency department staff developed a protocol
allowing nurses to give children powerful pain medicine
without physician orders — reducing wait time and
increasing the child’s comfort.
At the New Hospital: Will feature West Michigan’s
only dedicated pediatric emergency room.
To a parent, every illness or injury to their child is an emergency. Matthew Denenberg, M.D.,
chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, understands this.
“That’s one reason why having a pediatric emergency department is so important,” he says.
“Not only do we have child-sized equipment and pediatric-trained staff, but we’ve also created
an environment that is suited for children and their families.”
Ten years ago, however, this was not the case. Children were treated
Using these standards as a springboard, Debiak, Dr. Denenberg
in the same emergency room as adults. Cindy Debiak, R.N., the
and others on the planning committee have helped design an
emergency room coordinator who has worked at Spectrum Health
even more child-friendly, family-centered pediatric emergency
for more than 21 years, grew increasingly uncomfortable with that
department for the new hospital. This includes:
configuration and pushed for changes.
“I was concerned about making things more appropriate for
Triple the number of beds
All hard-walled rooms to ensure privacy
A more efficient flow to eliminate waiting time and promote
children,” she recalls. “We needed to keep kids from hearing and
seeing certain things, for example, some of the cases typical to
prompt treatment
most emergency rooms, such as severe trauma, gunshot victims
and disruptive persons.”
She asked her supervisors if she could focus exclusively on the
Integration with radiology to improve efficiency
A five-level triage, plus a fast-track for more minor ailments
An observation area to keep children who need extra attention
pediatric side of the emergency room, received their blessing,
and then went to work. Debiak gathered pediatric-appropriate
supplies—gowns, diapers and equipment sized to fit children
from being admitted to the hospital as inpatients, which keeps
at different stages of development. She picked the brains of the
families together and uses resources more appropriately
pediatric nurses, asking questions like “How do you prefer your
A focus on pain-free initiatives
Family rooms so that children and families can remain together
IVs to be set up?” She developed a core group of nurses, many
of whom transferred from the pediatric ICU. And she crafted
an orientation program that trained emergency room personnel
“You can feel comfortable that this will be the place to come to
in pediatric care.
in West Michigan,” says Dr. Denenberg. “Our pediatric emergency
department will be state-of-the-art in our approach to patients,
clinical care, systems and processes, supports and outcomes.”
At the
of the Hospital
The hardest working organ at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
is the heart. This translates into care that recognizes that healing comes
in many forms but starts with a wellspring of compassion
for children and their families.
At Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a team of more than
150 pediatric subspecialist physicians, more than 300 pediatric nurses and
therapists, 19 child life specialists, and dozens of medical support professionals
deliver state-of-the-art, children’s health care — straight from the heart.
The Physicians
They’ve trained at some of the most prestigious institutions
in the country, from Children’s Hospital in Boston to Texas
Children’s Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic. Many were offered
considerable incentives to remain. And yet, a large percentage
of the physicians at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital chose to
explore the future of children’s medicine in Grand Rapids.
One such physician was Pediatric Intensivist Dominic
Sanfilippo, M.D., who, at the start of a promising career,
left Yale University to follow his heart. On the surface, this
decision seemed to defy logic. In the early years of Helen DeVos
Children’s Hospital, facilities were scarce, programs were
small and the hospital’s reputation was limited to West
Michigan. Yet, there was something about the hospital that
was different, that spoke to what talented and dedicated
physicians aspire to. “At Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,
I found a group of doctors who, like me, were dreamers,”
explains Dr. Sanfilippo.
For these doctors, it was a tremendous leap of faith. Yet,
they saw the opportunity of a lifetime to practice medicine
in the way they always thought it should be. As a result of
the dreams and the faith of these maverick doctors like Dr.
Sanfilippo, who came to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in its
infancy, the medical staff today is an extraordinary collection
of talented medical professionals who share a passion for
children and a common dream of rethinking the paradigm
of children’s medicine, one child at a time.
Specialty and Subspecialty Care
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital provides care for some
of the most severely ill and injured children in more than
40 pediatric subspecialties.
Medical specialties include:
Adolescent Medicine
Hospital Medicine
Infectious Disease
Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Behavioral Pediatrics
Blood and Bone Marrow
Burn Center
Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery
Child Abuse and Neglect
Craniofacial Surgery
Critical Care
Emergency Medicine
Physiatry (Rehabilitation)
Plastic Surgery
Extracorporeal Membrane
Oxygenation (ECMO)
General Pediatrics
Hand Surgery
Department Highlights
While all the departments at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Marrow Donor Program, which searches worldwide for most
deliver state-of-the-art, quality care, many have become
appropriate donors.
regional and national leaders due to innovative and groundbreaking initiatives. Some highlights:
Inpatient and outpatient management of infectious
disease. The department commonly treats the following
Leading-edge cardiology services. With state-of-the-art
conditions: bone and joint infections; chronic fatigue; chronic
equipment and innovative physicians with a national reputation,
or recurrent infections; immunodefi ciency; histoplasmosis;
the department offers diagnostic and therapeutic cardiac
lymphadenopathy; MRSA; recurrent/chronic fevers; recurrent
catheterization, transthoracic and transesophageal echocar-
sinopulmonary infections; tuberculosis evaluation of
diography, fetal echocardiography, stress testing, Holter
foreign adoptees; and HIV management and care, including
monitoring and transtelephonic ECG monitoring.
perinatal evaluation.
Specialized gastroenterology services. The department
performs endoscopic procedures and liver biopsies on an
inpatient basis, as well as treating the following conditions:
The nation’s 10th largest neonatal center. With a 95-bed
capacity, the neonatal center provides:
Seven-day-a-week, 24-hour observation and medical care
An interdisciplinary team of subspecialists, on call 24/7
A 67-bed Level III unit
A 28-bed intermediate unit
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
Complex cardiac surgery
chronic diarrhea, constipation, encopresis, gastroesophageal
reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic abdominal pain,
feeding disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic liver
disease and short bowel syndrome.
One of the largest hematology and oncology programs in
the country, and the only blood and bone marrow transplant
program in West Michigan. This service offers comprehensive,
multidisciplinary specialty care for a wide range of hematology
coagulation and oncology disorders in patients from infants
through young adults. More than 600 patients a month are
seen in the clinic for outpatient evaluations, transfusion
A neonatal transport team serving western and northern
Michigan, staffed by one transport nurse, one neonatal
nurse practitioner and one respiratory therapist
Extended tertiary care for northern Michigan and the
Upper Peninsula
therapy, chemotherapy, laboratory monitoring and diagnostic
procedures. The department is a member of the National
(continued on p.44)
In the operating room, pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon
Robert Mann, M.D., is one of 30 surgeons who perform nearly 9,000
surgeries each year at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The range of
pediatric surgical subspecialties include cardiovascular and thoracic
surgery, hand surgery, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopaedics,
otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), general surgery and urology.
In addition, the children’s hospital provides pediatric trauma surgery
care as part of a Level 1 Regional Trauma Center.
Specialty Programs
Blood Avoidance Services. In response to ongoing
Child Sedation Services. One of the groundbreaking initiatives
Cystic Fibrosis. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is home to
concerns about the risks inherent in blood and blood
that has brought national attention to Helen DeVos Children’s
a Nationally Accredited Cystic Fibrosis Care Center. One of
products — and respect for religious beliefs that prohibit
Hospital, this program gets to the heart of what Helen DeVos
just 115 in the country, the multidisciplinary program includes
blood transfusions — Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Children’s Hospital stands for: Using proactive management of
pediatric pulmonologists, cystic fibrosis specialty nurses,
pioneered the Blood Avoidance Services, which today
pain and anxiety during procedures to help children feel safe,
medical social workers, respiratory therapists, dietitians and
is one of the first and the largest programs of its kind
comfortable and as free from pain as possible. This involves
pediatric psychologists — all of whom are committed to
in the country. Staffed by a specialty team of doctors
the administration of a carefully controlled, highly monitored
helping children live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.
and nurses, the program is committed to helping
sedation medication that allows the child to be deeply sedated
State-of-the-art care is supported by participation in more
families conserve blood and avoid blood transfusions
for a short period of time, with no recollection of the procedure
than 10 research studies exploring new therapies and ways
through medical and surgical techniques.
afterward. Started in 1989, the program is now one of the
to treat cystic fibrosis.
nation’s largest, serving approximately 5,000 patients a year.
The child life department takes an
innovative, child-centered approach
to helping children enjoy their hospital stay. Some of the ways, pictured
at right, include bravery beads, pet
recreation and promotion of normal
(continued from p.42)
A wide range of subspecialty neurosurgery services.
West Michigan’s only full-service pediatric radiology
Available for both neonates and children, pediatric neurosur-
department. Accurate, safe and fast. Delivering these attributes
gery services include treatment of congenital malformations
during 80,000 examinations a year is just one of the depart-
of the brain and spinal cord, such as hydrocephalus and spina
ment’s distinguishing characteristics. So is its range of
bifida, brain and spinal cord tumors and neuro-trauma such
modalities, which include neuroradiology, molecular imaging,
as closed head injuries.
ultrasound, CT scanning (including two 64-slice CT scanners
Full-service nephrology. The nephrology and transplantation
that allow cardiac imaging), MRIs (including fetal MRIs and
division treats general nephrology needs, hypertension,
pediatric cardiac MRIs used for children with congenital heart
urologic renal disease, chronic or acute kidney failure,
disease), PET scanning (used to give children with cancer the
dialysis-dependent renal failure and kidney transplantation.
lowest and thereby safest dose possible) and interventional
One of the largest pediatric orthopaedics departments
radiology. The department recently added a 3T MRI scanner,
in the region. With seven fellowship-trained orthopaedic
the most powerful available for routine clinical use to provide
surgeons on staff and more than 7,000 patient visits a year,
highly detailed imaging of the brain, abdomen and other
this department is able to handle all aspects of congenital,
organs. The department also has a 3-D processing lab for CT
developmental, infectious, neoplastic and traumatic disor-
and MRI imaging, something few centers across the nation
ders of the musculoskeletal system in infants, children and
have, for performing functional and flow studies in real time.
adolescents. This includes club foot, scoliosis, neuromuscular
Medical and surgical treatment of pediatric urological
disease, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, infectious disease of
conditions. This includes pre- and postnatal treatment and
the bones and joints, trauma (fractures, sprains and strains)
evaluation of birth defects and acquired anomalies of the
and pediatric sports medicine.
kidneys, ureters, vagina and bladder; treatment of urinary
Evaluation and consultation for pediatric psychological
growth and development through
activities like reading. Pictured at
near right is Jason Gaskin. At upper
far right is Aniyah and Jennifer
Martinez. At lower right is Kelly
Ashley and her daughter Alissa.
incontinence and dysfunctional voiding, urinary tract infec-
issues. With three pediatric psychologists on staff and an
tions and vesicoureteral reflux; disorders of the spinal cord
appointment model that allows for more cross-coverage of
and bladder, nephrolithiasis, kidney stones, urologic oncology
psychologists, the psychology department sees both children
and reconstructive surgery; gender issues in children with
and adolescents presenting a wide range of diagnoses, including
genital ambiguity; and female genital problems, such as labial
autism spectrum disorders, anxiety and learning disabilities.
fusion, imperforate hymen and vaginal atresia.
Specialty Programs (continued from p.43)
Diabetes. Taking an aggressive approach to childhood
Feeding Program. Addressing the physical, emotional and
diabetes — with the overriding goal of keeping kids out of
developmental reasons why a child may not be able to eat
rheumatology care to West Michigan, the division
the hospital — Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has one of
is the focus of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Intensive
provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of
Rheumatology. The first to bring specialized pediatric
the largest diabetes programs in Michigan and one of the
Feeding program. One of a handful of programs in the
children and adolescents with diagnoses such as
largest in the Midwest, with more than 9,000 visits a year.
country, the program is designed for children with a wide
juvenile arthritis, systemic lupus, dermatomyositis
Components of the program include satellite clinics in
variety of feeding disorders. The program utilizes a multidis-
and scleroderma. Physicians work in conjunction with
Holland, Muskegon and Traverse City, with plans to expand
ciplinary approach that involves comprehensive assessment,
pediatric orthopaedic and rehabilitation specialists,
to other locations; the largest insulin pump program in the
medical treatment of mechanical difficulties and management
as well as with the experts at the Arthritis Education
state; and six diabetes educators, three social workers and
of behavioral issues. Services are available on both an
Treatment Center.
a full-time dietitian on staff, as well as active participation
inpatient and outpatient basis, depending on a child’s needs.
in research and clinical trials.
At near right, Linda Heinicke, R.N. ,
with Tanner Barber. At far right top is
Jennifer Galmish, R.N. , hematology/
oncology with Thomas Swartzmiller.
Lower right, from left to right are:
Fran Vanhill, Rebecca Daldos, Deb Smith,
Carrie Bos and Amy Verburg, R.N.,
nurse manager.
The Nursing Staff
For many of them, taking care of others is all they ever wanted
to do. Nancy Inverso, R.N., outpatient hematology/oncology
announced the plans to build a new children’s hospital.
manager, for example, had a sister born with a congenital
“They handed out golden Christmas ornaments as inspiration,
problem that put her in and out of hospitals their entire child-
and I kept mine until the wiring fell off,” she says. The nurses
hood. Gwen Fosse, a cardiac surgery nurse-turned-outreach
at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital are, in short, not just the
coordinator, remembers wanting a job where she could help
heart but also the backbone of the hospital.
people. Years later, her daughter Hilary Marine now continues
the family tradition as an ICU nurse at the children’s hospital.
They are the nurses at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Their hands soothe children and families. Their faces are
Many of them are parents themselves, so they understand
how the parent of a sick child feels. They are also highly
trained pediatric experts.
And they wouldn’t work anywhere else. “I worked at
what patients remember long after discharge. They believe
another hospital once but it wasn’t a children’s hospital
that there is nothing more important than helping a sick
and I found it just wasn’t the right fi t for me,” say Fosse.
child get well.
Adds Verburg, “The physicians and administration listen to
They grew up in the community and have deep roots here.
our concerns and give us full support so we can do our jobs
Many, like Inverso, even went to nursing school at Spectrum
better, which is so rare. Grand Rapids doesn’t know how
Health’s Butterworth Hospital.
lucky it is to have the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in the
They also helped grow Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Amy Verburg, pediatric surgery nurse manager, recalls scrubbing
in for Hospital President Robert Connors’s first surgery at the
hospital back in 1990. “He had been brought in to expand
the pediatric surgery program, but from the first day I knew
that this was the start of something special,” she says.
Inverso remembers the meeting when Rich and Helen DeVos
community.” Nor does it realize how lucky it is to have such
dedicated nurses in the community.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘minor’ procedure if you are a child.
That’s why we pay attention to what each child says and how he or she might feel.”
Team: A core staff includes an eight-member
multidisciplinary team .
Scope: More than 450 children were served in 2007.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital staff members are
available around the clock to Children’s Protective Services
(CPS) caseworkers, law enforcement and medical
providers in all 83 Michigan counties.
Programming: Includes parent/child coaching; the
“I Feel Better Now” program, which intervenes with
children whose behavior indicates a trauma reaction;
“Helping Your Child Succeed,” an educational parenting
group; parent education in response to physician referral;
and shaken baby syndrome education for new mothers.
At the New Hospital: The team is working to further develop
a statewide network of medical resource services to help and
support abused and neglected children and their families.
Her daily agenda is the stuff of most people’s nightmares. And, as Deb Simms, M.D., director,
Center for Child Protection, admits, what she sees on some days gives her a few nightmares of
her own. But too many children depend on her to worry about lost sleep. Dr. Simms is the only
pediatrician in the state of Michigan who deals with child abuse on a full-time basis. She works
with children who have suffered all forms of maltreatment — from physical and sexual abuse to
neglect, failure to thrive, child pornography, drug exposure and Munchausen by proxy syndrome.
Although she had been involved in special needs and abuse issues
Her vision is to establish a standard of care for all victims of
for years, it wasn’t until a male colleague asked her for help on a
maltreatment that will, in turn, establish a standard of care for
difficult case that it became her vocation.
all children.
“He had just interviewed a 9-year-old girl who had been severely
“We do not want to fail children in the system,” she says.
sexually abused, and when it came time for the exam, she said
“That’s why we are working to put protocols in place to detect
she couldn’t bear to have yet another man touch her. But when
the more subtle signs of abuse — for example, a small head bleed
he explained he was the only staff member in the department
versus a large head bleed — so that we don’t let children slip
performing exams, she said okay because she had never had a
through our fingers.”
choice in her life. I was brought on the team to give victims a
choice,” says Dr. Simms.
For Dr. Simms, it always comes back to making things better for
children in both large and small ways. For example, every child
A choice, a voice and a chance. Not only is she a resource and an
seen at the Center for Child Protection is given a blanket of his or
advocate for victims, but she educates other physicians, law enforce-
her own for comfort.
ment personnel, foster care workers, day-care workers, teachers
and community educators on handling abuse and crisis situations.
“This community outreach is one of the most impressive things
“Children who have been abused think they are broken. We
help them know that they are okay. This gives them back their
self-esteem and lets them heal from the inside out.”
about Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Sims says. “The fact
that they are allocating so many resources for which there is little
to no reimbursement underscores the hospital’s true commitment
to children. No one else in the state does it like this.”
Everyone knows that the people who care for children are motivated by something special.
But what about those brave few who work with, gasp, teenagers? What do they have?
The patience of a saint? Nerves of steel? Or just a thick skin?
Lisa Lowery, M.D., M.P.H., adolescent medicine subspecialist,
Not only do Dr. Lowery and Dr. Shatz deliver primary care to teens
just laughs. “Really, for me, it’s about passion. For as long as I can
aged 13 through 18, but they also work with 11 different community
remember, I’ve wanted to help teenagers. I did youth mentoring as
agencies and serve as care providers at high school clinics and for
a teen. So by the time I did my medical training, I knew adolescent
teens in the foster care system or in juvenile detention.
medicine would be my specialty. For some reason, I’ve always felt
really connected to adolescents. Yes, it’s challenging, but I love it.”
In addition, Dr. Shatz does assessments on abuse cases. They both
work with Planned Parenthood, the Developmental Adolescent
Challenging is an understatement. “It’s about five times harder to
Residential Training Program (DART) program and a residential
be a teen these days,” Dr. Lowery says. “There are tremendous
treatment program for special-needs kids.
psycho-social issues including body image, mood disorders, violence,
abusive relationships, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases,
substance abuse and so on. As adults, we don’t realize how
much peer pressure they deal with — and how much worse the
consequences are today.
“In many ways,” she adds, “teens are a forgotten population
How to get through to notoriously prickly teens? “Teens need a safe
environment, so they feel appreciated and that they matter. I slowly
chip away at their shell and create a safe environment where they
feel supported. I am honest with them. One of the first things I say
is ‘We will help you. We may not agree with your behaviors and we
may call you on the carpet, but we will support you.’”
healthwise — too old for pediatrics, too young for adult medicine — but at the same time, they are in a crucial time in their development and need as much support as they can get.”
That support comes in the form of Dr. Lowery and her partner,
Eugene Shatz, M.D., who oversee the Adolescent Medicine Clinic
at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “The fact that the hospital puts
so many resources toward adolescent medicine — a lot of which are
not reimbursed — highlights its commitment to this underserved
population,” says Dr. Lowery.
miracle workers
It would be understandable if Maddy Brozek looked back at age 10 as her “lost year.” After all, she
spent most of it hospitalized, with chances of survival in the low single digits. Instead, 14-year-old
Maddy — who today is a healthy teen entering high school — remembers her stay at Helen DeVos
Children’s Hospital with fondness and considers her treatment team lifelong friends. “Maddy is our
miracle girl,” says her mother, Nancy, “but she was also at a place where miracles can happen.”
Maddy’s yearlong odyssey started in the summer of 2004 with a
lingering kidney infection. Testing revealed a tumor that was
shutting down her kidneys. Maddy’s physician sent her to the
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
for dialysis. There, Timothy Bunchman, M.D., had redesigned
the machines to be more pediatric-friendly, something that both
Maddy and her parents greatly appreciated. Miracle one.
After further testing, it was discovered that not only did Maddy
have a 10-pound tumor attached to her bowel, but it was a
high-grade lymphoma: cancer of the lymph glands. “Dr. Jim Fahner
broke the news to us just as he was shifting off rotation,” recalls
Nancy. “However, we felt such a connection with him that we
asked if he would stay on as her main doctor. He agreed without
missing a beat.” Miracle two.
Dr. Fahner initially prescribed an aggressive treatment because
Maddy’s tumor was a rare cancer that doubled every 48 hours, yet
her white blood cell counts dropped so low after the first treatment
that she developed an infection. Surgery on the tumor was not an
option, and chemotherapy for the cancer had to be suspended.
Then her bowel ruptured. Surgery still was not possible. “The
infectious disease doctors came in and prescribed every antibiotic
they could,” says Nancy, “including the ‘last chance’ antibiotic.”
In the meantime, pediatric surgeon Marc Schlatter, M.D., came
on board to see if he could find a way to operate.
“Dr. Schlatter said he’d take Maddy on as his case no matter
when or where he was — whether he was on rounds or not. Even
when he took his son to New York to college, he called to check
on Maddy, and told us he’d come back in a minute if she needed
him,” says Nancy. Miracle three.
Dr. Schlatter assembled a topflight team, including his surgical
colleague, Hospital President Bob Connors, M.D., to develop a plan
for Maddy’s surgery.
One week after the surgery, tests revealed that the cancer had
spread around Maddy’s lungs and heart. It was back to the ICU
for a week, then back again to the hospital for antibiotics, and
then chemotherapy every six weeks.
Maddy’s extended stay — “at one time or another, Maddy was
treated on every floor of the hospital,” says her mother — was full
of everyday miracles, as well. For example, the nurses would take
their breaks in Maddy’s room to make sure she had company. For
Maddy’s “Make-A-Wish” she asked for a tree house. What she
got was a 10-foot-by-10-foot, three-season loft on stilts painted
in “wild colors.”
Maddy was known for her fondness for ‘The Price is Right’, so
Dr. Fahner would engineer his rounds to watch it with her. “He
even visited the set of “The Price is Right” while on vacation and
brought Maddy back a souvenir from the show,” says Nancy.
“He is a good, good man and a genius. To know that he was
leading the team made us feel like we were in good hands.
“But it wasn’t just the doctors who made a difference; it was
the whole team — child life services, the nurses, the physical
therapists, everyone. They always made us feel like family,” says
Nancy. “Even when we were getting the worst news possible,
they made it okay. Oddly enough, it was one of the least stressful
times of my life because I had just one job: to be Maddy’s mom.
If you have to go through something like this, do it at Helen
DeVos Children’s Hospital.”
The new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital broke ground
in October 2006, and in 2011, it will open its doors to
launch a new era in children’s health care.
The hospital will be many things to many people: an anchor of Grand Rapids’ growing health care
corridor; a focal point on the city’s skyline; a draw for the country’s top pediatric subspecialists;
a symbol of a community’s values; and a resource for all of Michigan.
But more than anything, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital will be a place for children and families:
a place where children can still be children, no matter how sick they are
a place where families are not only valued, but are also involved members of the treatment team
a place where the staff sees children as teachers and parents as allies
a place where pain is replaced by comfort
a place where there is poetry in the ordinary
a place where doctors have dedicated their careers to healing children
a place where state-of-the-art medical care is not simply a goal but the reality
When the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital opens it doors in 2011, one more thing will be very clear:
It’s what’s inside that counts.
Produced by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Marketing and Communications department
Photography Robert Neumann
Design Pressley Jacobs: a design partnership
Writer Mary Ellen Sullivan
Outside the Hospital Walls
A children’s hospital is more than just a building — it’s a community of children, families, physicians,
nurses and other staff. Although countless hours are spent inside the hospital, just as much is spent
outside the walls of the hospital: in the community, in the neighborhoods, in the world.
Community Programming
West Michigan FIREMatch — fire safety and prevention
Interested in helping Helen
that’s one of the core values of Helen DeVos Children’s
DeVos Children’s Hospital
Hospital, and something that every staff member
achieve its mission of treating
does every day on the job. But the hospital also
families with compassion,
PORT (Pediatric Oncology Resource Team) — support
advocates for children in a more formal fashion
excellence and innovation?
for children and families coping with cancer
through the Children’s Advocacy Network at Helen
Call us at (616) 391-2000, or
Enchanted Forest Childcare — available to parents and
DeVos Children’s Hospital.
visit devoschildrens.org/give
other children who have appointments at the hospital
This network strives to make communities better for
GRAPES (Grand Rapids Area Pediatric Evening Services) —
kids in the long term through legislative advocacy.
more flexible pediatric physician appointments for
The Children’s Advocacy Network:
SAFE KIDS coalition (Lakeshore and Grand Rapids) — safety
working families
Support Groups — covering such topics as NICU parents
Supports programs and policies that promote
access to quality health care for all children.
and bereavement
Being the voice for those who don’t have one—
interventions to reduce accidental injuries in children
Advocates for public health protection programs
Classes — education on such topics as pediatric and teen
for children, such as poison prevention and safety
health, infant and child CPR, and nutrition
belt laws.
Kid’s Corner — Web-based information and resources
Encourages investment in pediatric research
for children, teens and parents
to improve the health of children now and in
The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Regional Poison
the future.
Center — available 24/7/365, serving 65 Michigan counties,
covering more than 44,000 square miles and reaching
more than 3.3 million people
to find out how you can be
part of what’s inside. After
all, that’s what counts.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
100 Michigan Street, NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 391-9000
© 2008 Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital