Passion for Kids Leads Children’s Heart Director to Keep on Running!

By Dr. Geoffrey Rosenthal, Director, Children’s Heart Program


Running is my passion.  I haven’t skipped a day of running in four years and have been known to run even while injured, powering through a stress fracture or more recently, cracked ribs.  On most weekends, it’s not uncommon to find me running.  Ideally, I’m participating in a marathon or half marathon.

People always ask me what motivates me to run each day.  I do it for the children.  I run because I know we can do more to make life better for those touched by childhood heart disease.

When you’re running for 26 miles, you have a lot time on your hands.  There’s time to reflect and time to talk to other runners.  It’s also a great time to promote my other passion – the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program.

I always wear my Children’s Heart Program t-shirt on race day, whether I’m at the Baltimore Marathon or the Boston Marathon.  Some of the best conversations begin with a comment about my shirt.  People share stories about how congenital heart disease has touched their lives.  It is a powerful reminder of how many people are impacted.  Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting 1 in 110 infants born each year.  Congenital heart disease is also the most common cause of infant mortality from birth defects.

On October 15, 2011, I will run in the Baltimore Running Festival and proudly wear my Children’s Heart Program shirt.  But on this day, I won’t be alone.  140 runners will also be wearing the shirt to help raise awareness and funds for our program.  Our running team has members, ages 4 to 57, participating in a wide range of events, from the Kids Fun Run to the Baltimore Marathon.  They come from not only Maryland, but Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.

Since last year, the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program has grown to include a total of seven pediatric cardiologists, a cardiologist who specializes in adult congenital heart disease, and a pediatric heart surgeon.  Together, the team specializes in fetal diagnosis, management of heart rhythm problems, interventional cardiology, management of congenital heart disease in adults, pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgery, and neonatal heart surgery.  We’re joined by specialists in nursing, quality improvement, nutrition, social work and other fields.  We’re building an expert team whose talents will help children with congenital heart disease live longer and lead more active lives.  We have set out with the goal to ensure that no child will need to leave the state of Maryland to receive needed care for heart problems.

To support the University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program Running Team, visit: www.ummsfoundation.org/pedsteam

The Child Life Department Hosts a Back to School Carnival

By Megan Kikola, M.S., CCLS
Child Life Assistant

If you happened to take the rotunda elevators to the Children’s Hospital on Friday, August 12, you would have been greeted by a wonderland of music, characters, and bright colors. A world where the pediatric patients were not focused on pokes, IV pumps and tears; but on games, prizes and laughter.  This event was the “Back to School Carnival” hosted by the Child Life Department at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

A primary goal of child life professionals is to normalize the hospital environment, while providing psychosocial support to patients and families. Most importantly, child life professionals promote self expression and play. Creating a world where kids can be kids is always a priority, which is how the carnival idea came to be.

The creative vision was that of Sandra Dean, one of the child life assistants. “It’s all for the kids,” Dean said of the event, “…anything to make their stay memorable.” Her imagination, coupled with the support of wonderful donors brought the carnival to life. Once the plan was in place, the child life team got to work creatively, rallied volunteers, and gained the support of the medical teams.

Some highlights of the event included a bounce house, water balloon pop, a DJ, snow cones, games and prizes. Book bags filled with school supplies were donated and distributed to patients. The happiness and excitement of the patients made all of the hard work worthwhile. When told the event was underway, a young patient stated “Yay! I’m so happy!” as she ran toward the festivities. A parent shared, “It was so fun, my kids could have stayed in the bounce house all day.”

The child life team is very grateful for the continued support of the hospital community and volunteers and looks forward to hosting more of these events.

“Terrified” Parents Grateful for Care, Concern & Compassion

By Matt Christopher

My 14-month-old son, Cameron [right, with me and my wife, Nikki], was seen in the University of Maryland Medical Center’s children’s hospital for a MRSA infection from Christmas night until January 4th. Being first-time parents, we were terrified.

Our night started out at Easton Hospital, with one of your crews picking him up and providing outstanding service the whole ride. We then were received into the children’s emergency department and were well taken care of. Then we were transferred to the PICU, where our level of care continued to awe us. Our nurse Davita took wonderful care of our son and us. My wife and I still talk about her concern and compassion for all of us.

The whole team in the children’s hospital was wonderful and words cannot completely describe how amazing the care we received there was. Everyone from the doctors, nurses, and even the cleaning staff was wonderful. The housekeeper, Maria, would see us and ask how he was doing. Davita checked on us even when we had moved wards. It was plain to see that everyone there considers it more than just a job.

As a business manager I am awed at the wonderful employees your institution has working there. Our last nurse’s assistant, Nikki, was able to relate to us and would ask us if we needed anything any time she saw us in the halls. Dr. Mary Boyd checked up on us constantly and became a quick friend. It’s easy to see why you are an award-winning hospital. You have exceeded expectations from myself and all of my family. I am still so amazed that not a day goes by that I don’t tell one of my customers about the experience that we had during our 11-day stay.

I still cannot believe the service we got while there. We were treated as if we were royalty. That being said, I saw every patient there being treated the same way. Even the receptionist in the PICU would ask us if we needed anything. The ENT surgeons would check in to see if we had any questions or if we needed anything. The thing is, everyone that asked us this meant it. You have my vote as the hospital of the decade. … For such a horrible time, the whole experience was made better by your wonderful staff.

Take a Virtual Tour of UMMC’s Pediatric Surgical Center

This two-minute video provides a child-friendly tour of the Pediatric Surgical Center within the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. This video includes directions to the surgical center, a tour of the waiting area and a step-by-step guide that helps young patients know what to expect during the pre-op process.

Related Information:

UMMC Employee’s Girl Scout Troop Reaches Out to Help Those Less Fortunate on Thanksgiving

By Tanya Berry
Training Coordinator, Learning and Organizational Development

This school year I became a Girl Scout (GS) Troop Leader in Harford County, MD to five amazing 11-year-old girls. When we first met, I asked them what it was they wanted to focus on this year. Without batting an eye, they all responded that they wanted to help other people — less fortunate people.

Our first chance to work on achieving this goal came during our first cookie sale drive. The girls chose to collect donated boxes of cookies for the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, because they wanted the children who were hospitalized there to know that there were people thinking about them and their families and wishing for their speedy recovery. They collected 50 boxes of cookies, which they called “Gifts of Caring,” and were delighted when they received a photograph and note from the kids who were benefiting from their yummy gift of cookies.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the girls again wanted to reach out to those people less fortunate than themselves. I asked them how they thought they could achieve this, and they replied that they wanted to prove that the power of five was mighty! Five girls feeding 50 people!

Although the girls’ wanted to give back to the community, they knew they needed help. Each girl’s goal was to feed 10 homeless citizens here in Baltimore. They reached out to businesses in the neighborhood to ask for donations in order to realize this goal. Together, they were able to have Weis Supermarkets from Bel Air, MD donate 10 pounds of turkey and ham, six loaves of bread and seven cans of cranberry sauce. Kirbies Cafe in Baltimore was also kind enough to donate condiments, serving cups and 20 pounds of potato salad. The girls bought napkins, forks and sandwich bags with their own money. In the end, the troop was able make enough brown bag lunches to feed 80 people. They had a fantastic time making the lunches on Thanksgiving Eve.

We woke up early Thanksgiving morning to find homeless men and women throughout the area to feed. The girls searched under underpasses, street corners and park benches. They climbed the steps of Baltimore’s City Hall and fed the homeless at the Helping Up Mission on Baltimore Street. We were greeted with smiles and “Thank You’s” from all of the people we served that day, and the girls walked away with an amazing feeling and understanding of true community service.

The girls have now pledged to double the amount of food we serve next year and have already started planning their next service project. These kids genuinely want to give back and make a difference in the world they live in. I have never been more proud of any group of young girls as I am of my Troop 2825. I love them, and I know that they are each going do great things!

Orioles’ Brian Roberts Hosts 5th Baseball Bash on August 22

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

In 2006, Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts wanted to create a unique family-friendly event to benefit the University of Maryland Hospital for Children (UMHC). Roberts, who had open-heart surgery as a child, is passionate about giving back to kids, and has been a regular visitor to UMHC throughout his Orioles career.

The event he created is Brian’s Baseball Bash, and he is hosting his fifth Bash on August 22 at Dave & Buster’s in the Arundel Mills Mall. Attendees get to mingle with Brian, other Orioles’ players and local sports stars while enjoying a night of games, great food and silent auction. What makes it stand out from other such events, though, is Brian’s passion for the event, and the cause.

On the family focus: “A lot of the events really feature adults raising money. I wanted to do something with our love for the kids and passion for the hospital that involved families, that families could do together.”

On his desire to interact with attendees: “The best part is that you get to have personal interaction with anybody that comes to the Bash and wants to come up and say hi. Most of the time I sign autographs for a long, long time and take pictures and try to communicate with the people that are taking time out of their day and taking money out of their pocket to support this event.”

On having raised $450,000 at previous Bashes: “It’s amazing to think that people would give their own money to something that has my name on it and supports the [UM Hospital for Children]. It really is humbling; I never would have thought I’d be in a position to be able to do something like that.”

Tickets to this year’s Bash are available here, or call Whitney Reeves at 410-328-3637.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine Expert Talks About “Communicating to Win” on CBS Radio Show Sunday

By Bob Paff
UM Hospital for Children Board Member
Host of CBS Radio Show “Communicating to Win”

Editor’s Note: Bob Paff will interview Dr. Keyvan Rafei, UMMC’s head of pediatric emergency medicine, on his radio show “Communicating to Win” on 105.7 FM from 7-8 a.m. on Sunday, August 8.

As a father of 6 it’s not hard to understand why and how I would come to support the University of Maryland Hospital For Children (UMHC). My role as a UMHC board member came at the suggestion of a friend, who wondered if I had any volunteer activities in my life. After the first meeting I was committed to the cause!

I met Dr. Keyvan Rafei at a board meeting. He was giving a clinical presentation with a spin toward the “business of medicine.” As a consultant, motivational speaker and CBS Radio show host I have a talk I give on that exact title! Clearly I was intrigued. After Dr. Rafei stopped speaking I told the Chairman of Pediatrics, Dr. Steven Czinn, that it was the best presentation I had heard since being on the board.

I decided he should be a guest on my radio show, “Communicating To Win,” which airs on 105.7 FM on Sunday mornings from 7-8 a.m. Tune in on Sunday, August 8 to hear what Dr. Rafei has to say.

Running for Children With Heart Problems

By Geoffrey Rosenthal
Director, Children’s Heart Program

I am (stupidly) a daily runner. The last day I missed was, I believe, September 11, 2007. I’ll need to revisit my log to be sure. Anyway, I was coming clean about this obsession with one of my nephews recently and he did a quick computation. He calculated that this week, on June 8, 2010, I had run 1,000 days in a row. I don’t know exactly how many miles I have run, but it is likely around 8,600 miles.

This daily ritual begins each morning at 4 a.m. I run for several reasons: for health, to experience the neighborhood, and to fully appreciate how lucky I am to be alive! Of course, an added benefit is that I burn so many calories I can eat anything that isn’t moving!

It’s also a means to train for upcoming running events. So far this year, I’ve participated in three marathons and two half-marathons. But the one running event I’m looking forward to most is the Baltimore Running Festival — which I ran with my son (see photo) last year — where I’ll run the marathon to raise awareness for another passion of mine – the Children’s Heart Program here at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

The Children’s Heart Program is also on a long run of sorts. We have set out with the goal to ensure that in the near future, no child will need to leave the state of Maryland to receive needed care for heart-related symptoms or disorders. All the services they might need will be available here at the Children’s Heart Program.

Patient care at this level always involves partnership and it always involves teamwork. Our partnerships include patients, families, and other care providers. Our team includes a great nursing staff, wonderful physician staff, many dedicated people on the ground level, and our foundational institutions: the University of Maryland Medical System, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the community. With the talents of our crew, the engagement of our families, and the foundation provided by our mother institutions, this is a race we are sure to win.

We’re always looking for “new recruits,” and one way we’re encouraging people to get involved is by joining our University of Maryland Hospital for Children (UMHC) Heart Program team and participating in the Baltimore Running Festival on October 16, 2010.

Whether it’s running in the marathon, half-marathon, 5k race, or team relay, there is an event suited for every type of runner and for every age. You can sign up to join our team by calling Nichole at 410.328.6053, or you can  support our efforts by making a donation on my behalf by going to the UMMS Foundation site.

While I’m an avid runner, it can sometimes be difficult to find motivation to go out and run. During these times, I draw from the motivation and the dedication of our patients, families, and supporters. As we develop a comprehensive heart program to meet the needs of children with cardiovascular health issues here in this state, it has been the teamwork of all involved that has inspired me on many occasions to lace up when the sun is baking, when the sleet is falling, or when the hills are steep. We are on an important mission — we are running for children who, because of their heart problems, may not be able to run themselves.