Erica, Family-centered Care
"On September 9, 2008, the world as we knew it changed,” says Allison Rix of Los Gatos.
While riding in the car that day, Allison’s daughter, Erica, 6, tossed one end of a jump rope out the window to flutter in the wind. Suddenly, the rope caught in the car’s axle and a loop tightened around Erica’s wrist, severing her left hand.
Her life in danger, Erica was rushed to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Stanford Hospital. Surgeon Jeffrey Yao, MD, and a team of
medical staff worked heroically for more than 11 hours to successfully reattach her hand. Erica spent 10 days in the ICU at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and then returned home, to her family’s great relief.
But the accident was only the beginning of this chapter of the Rix family’s lives. As Erica required intensive follow-up care, Allison found
herself in a completely unexpected role: the parent of a long-term pediatric patient.
Since the accident over a year ago, Erica has undergone many more surgeries and continues to visit Packard Children’s several times a week. In occupational therapy, she practices everyday tasks like baking cookies and swinging a baseball bat to regain use of her left hand.
“But even with all the excellent care, there are days when I am just emotionally overwhelmed,” says Allison.
Fortunately, the Packard team understands that hospitalization is stressful and scary for the entire family. The Hospital’s cutting-edge medical care is augmented by a wide range of patient and family support services—the special touches that make Packard a unique place for healing.
Together with other care providers, social workers help families access the resources they need during a medical crisis. “Our social worker, Veronica Ruiz, has been our support since the day we arrived,” Allison says. “Whether she’s helping me fill out paperwork or just listening with compassion, she has made the experience bearable.”
During her frequent Packard visits, Erica attended the on-site Hospital School, a program offered in collaboration with Palo Alto Unified School District.
Additionally, in between appointments and school, Erica found a place for fun in the Forever Young Zone. This all-ages play room is a designated “procedure-free zone,” where patients can set aside their medical conditions and just enjoy themselves. In recent months, the Forever Young Zone has hosted everything from a Johnny Depp look-alike in a pirate costume to the animation team of the Pixar movie Up.
Today, thanks to the comprehensive, family-centered care offered at Packard Children’s Hospital, Erica is relearning how to tie her shoes and is back to playing soccer and riding her bike. As Allison says, “Compassion and competence—one without the other is incomplete.”