It was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who first said that change is inevitable, and I’ve seen plenty of it over the past three years. When I last posted to this blog, I was leaving my life in TV news to reinvent myself as a family-centered care consultant at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando.
There were no guarantees. This was a new position that was created as a test. It was a leap of faith on my part that the many people who got to know me through numerous hospital stays and time spent on the Family Advisory Council would see the value to having a parent around who could help to improve the experience of our patients and families.
As with anything new, there’s paperwork and approvals needed. Florida Hospital is a huge entity, so it took some time to get the necessary paperwork completed, and I was a stay-at-home dad for about four months.
But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. My father-in-law and mother-in-law both had to be hospitalized during my time at home. My wife needed to help care for them during their recovery, and while she focused on getting them better, I was able to focus on J.P., and see all it takes to keep our boy on track.
I believe it also helped me get ready for my new role at Florida Hospital for Children. Spending long hours at the TV station isn’t conducive to being a hands-on dad, but that’s exactly what I needed to know to be empathetic to parents dealing with their sick kids, as well as doctors, nurses and other care providers.
My future wasn’t going to revolve around broadcasting information anymore. The most important thing I would be doing is listening, understanding and comforting — and helping our clinicians to do the same thing. Having had so much experience with J.P. at the hospital helps me understand the feelings and occasional frustrations that can be felt along the way.
J.P. has really grown over the past three years. Getting the ceiling lift in 2015 was a convenience at the time, but it’s definitely a necessity now. Having a nurse every day to help Paige with diaper changes and medicines is also much more important.
He’s in high school now, and we’re dealing with brutal cluster headaches that can bring him to tears, and we ended up with a very long and messy hospital stay at the end of 2018 because of unrelenting vomiting that will be the subject of a future post.
That hospital admission was the first where I was challenged to balance my dad and hospital employee roles. It wasn’t the perfect hospital admission, but it was great to see that despite some issues, everyone viewed it as a learning experience, and we vowed to work together to improve things in the future.
I’m happy to say that my role at what is now AdventHealth for Children has grown. I’m a full-time employee now, and I also oversee GetWellNetwork for our campus. I was honored to receive the Partner In Care award last year, and I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for system manager training at GetWellNetwork headquarters. I was also featured in FHTV News with my former WESH coworker Mike O’Lenick.
I’m a member of several hospital councils, including our Shared Leadership Quality and Practice Council. I’m also on several committees and continue to assist with the Family Advisory Council, which is comprised of our NICU, pediatric, teen and e-councils.
So why has it been three years without a post to the blog? Well, I lost access to it. The blog was under my Hearst email address, and somehow I forgot my password. It couldn’t be reset, because I no longer had my Hearst email. There were numerous phone calls and emails to WordPress that went nowhere, but I persevered, and this week was able to get a helpful individual who understood the importance of what I’m doing here.
It’s really taken on new meaning with my hospital position. I’m hearing the stories of so many parents, and I have the ability to share my experiences to help them find their way when change seems so inevitable.
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