Friday, January 18, 2013
If you've ever been a patient at a hospital and had to remove your clothes and put on a medical gown.You know how uncomfortable it can be and its particularly troublesome for young children. Now a San Diego foundation is trying to make hospital visits less stressful for children.
Walking with her family through the hallway of Rady Children's hospital in San Diego you get the sense the girl in the bright red t-shirt has been here before. Its no coincidence. For the past four years the Armenta family have been in and out of hospitals trying to figure out what's ailing their middle child Stephanie, who is 10.
"She's been through a lot, she's always maintained her strength, always comes in with a smile and a hug. And when she gives you a hug you know you've had a hug," nurse Carol Parks said.
Doctors have yet to figure out what's wrong with Stephanie, but what ever it is, it causes her muscles to get weak like spaghetti, and without chemotherapy treatment, it affects her breathing, throat, vision and legs.
On this particular day she's getting maintenance to a catheter or tubing that goes directly to her heart. And that bright red t-shirt was custom made with pullback flaps so she doesn't have to take off her shirt.
"With these shirts its been wonderful because you can just unsnap and go right where you need to go and a lot of our kids do have indwelling catheters," Parks said.
"It helps me a lot because instead of putting my shirt up and showing my belly or all the air coming on my back, I just put it down and show my catheter," Stephanie Armenta said with a big smile. Her mom says its really convenient because Stephanie comes to Rady's at least twice a week and sometimes spends up to ten hours for chemo treatments.
The Emilio Nares Foundation received a grant 18 months ago to produce 400 shirts. Their bigger goal is to have them in every Children's hospital throughout the country. ENF is a non-profit organization founded by families who have personally faced the devastation of battling childhood cancer. The group is now working on a marketing plan to get the t-shirts into hospitals throughout Southern California.