From Thanksgiving until the New Year, the holiday season is a busy one – and not just for shopping and enjoying holiday celebrations and festivities.  It’s also a busy time professionally, as seasonal illnesses from colds to ski injuries fill the inpatient and outpatient hallways of our University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and make them sometimes appear busier than the busiest department store.  But the holiday season is also a time to reflect on how fortunate we are to be able to offer what we do to the children and families we serve, and to be able to work together as a professional family to provide the child-friendly, family-centered care that we do.

We have many examples from this past month alone.  During these few weeks a number of events have occurred at our children’s hospital that should make all of us feel so fortunate to be a member of the incredible team that we have.  The following are just a few of the highlights:

  1. The orchestration of a wedding in less than a day for one of our young adult cancer patients in our Hematology/Oncology unit on Shepardson 4, when his condition turned fragile, which prompted his fiancée’s and his desire to tie the knot.  So many areas of our hospital came together as one to make this event something those involved will never forget.
  2. The outpouring from the community to support us through the 25 mile run/walk by the senior class at Vergennes High School, and the incredible 12 hour Dance Marathon at Middlebury College—which together garnered more than $11,000 for our programs and services.  Both of these events were a result of the community wanting to do this for us, not because we asked.
  3. The hundreds of staff and families that turned out for our annual Children’s Memorial Service to celebrate the lives of children who have passed away, and also the strong partnerships that we formed with the families we cared for, and continue to care for.
  4. The many staff who celebrated more than 20 years of service – some even 40 years of service – in providing care for infants and children, who were honored at the annual Service Awards Banquet.  The combined days and years of service are awe-inspiring and yet these incredible nurses, physicians, and staff almost shy away from such attention and simply want to do their jobs and do them well.
  5. Our ability to make every single patient feel like they are our only patient, no matter how busy or hectic things are.  The letters of gratitude I receive about the work of our staff and the expressions of thanks on the UVM Medical Center Facebook page from grateful patients cannot help but make you smile during this holiday season.

As we celebrate the end of 2011 and look toward 2012, I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who makes our Vermont Children’s Hospital and in turn the UVM Medical Center the special place that it is.  I hope everyone gets a chance to find some time to relax with family and friends over the holidays, and I wish everyone the healthiest and happiest of New Years!  Thanks for all you do, and for what I know you will all do, to make 2012 another great year for our Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center!

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.uvmhealth.org/firstwithkids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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