By: Kelly Anderson
Kelly Anderson is an active volunteer with Families as Partners. She wrote this blog about her children – J.J. and Bridget – and their Children’s Minnesota stories.
As a family, we have several years of experience with Children’s Minnesota. My eldest daughter, J.J., was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 4 years old. She finished treatment in August 2019 and has been returning to clinic every two months for bloodwork. She was due in the clinic in mid-April, but, due to COVID-19, that visit was scheduled as virtual care visit.
Our home-care nurse was willing to draw blood on my couch while J.J. watched television over her shoulder. A few days later, we had a virtual appointment with the nurse practitioner, who I spoke with for at least 30 to 45 minutes. As always, she answered all my questions and addressed each of my concerns. Since that first virtual care visit, we have visited the clinic two additional times during this pandemic.
During those visits, we have received the same kindness that I have come to expect from every person we encounter at Children’s Minnesota. Honestly, the masks are the only difference I noticed; everyone was wearing one and I didn’t hear any complaints. The doctors and nurses continue to take time to answer my questions, to joke around with J.J., and to provide the exemplary medical care we have always received.
For example, on our last visit, the lab technician was incredibly upbeat. She turned on a movie for J.J., despite us only being in the room for about five minutes and gave J.J. a prize from her drawer as we left. And the receptionists in the oncology clinic were helpful and accommodating, despite being understaffed on that day.
‘I never even considered taking her to another hospital’
The doctors and nurses at Children’s Minnesota literally saved J.J.’s life, but they also saved her childhood. Because of the coping skills she learned from child life specialists and because everyone acknowledged and validated her fears, she is the same kid today that she was before her diagnosis. For those reasons, when my 5-year-old daughter, Bridget, broke her arm falling off the monkey bars in June, I never even considered taking her to another hospital. Having experienced the increased precautions Children’s Minnesota has taken due to the pandemic, I knew that she would be as safe as humanly possible while there.
The care we received on Bridget’s first—and hopefully only—trip to the emergency department was as good as ever. Bridget was as happy as could be: snuggling under blankets and watching movies. She only cried when the doctor told her that her arm was broken, but the nurse who put on her splint was very calming, telling her about the different colored casts she could pick from and how people would be able to sign it. She ultimately chose a pink camouflage cast, which she refused to let anyone sign because she thought it would ruin the effect of her newest accessory. And the nurse practitioner saved our summer when she agreed to put Bridget in a waterproof cast! She has spent the last five weeks swimming, participating in water play days at daycare, and jumping off the boat at the cabin.
A message to their care teams
I know everyone at Children’s Minnesota must be feeling extremely stressed right now, but having visited several locations within the hospital and specialty clinics—oncology, physical therapy, emergency department, lab, and orthopedics–during the pandemic, I would never have guessed anything had changed.
I am so grateful for the amazing doctors, nurses, child life specialists, receptionists and everyone else we have had the opportunity to meet. You have meant the world to us and continue to go above and beyond in these scary times. Keep up the great work; we look very forward to the time—hopefully sooner than later—when we can thank you with a smile that isn’t hidden by a mask!