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Children and Families First | Inside MGHfC

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Children and Families First | Inside MGHfC

“Children never age out here,” says Ron Kleinman, MD, Physician-in-Chief of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, who shares his vision for a healthier world for children and families.

Jennifer Wells
April 16, 2021

What makes MassGeneral Hospital for Children special?

Because we are embedded in one of the top hospitals in the world, our patients and families have access to expertise in every area that you can imagine and even some you may have never heard of. And as our patients grow, they can transition to adult services. We like to say, Once we start caring, we dont stop.’ And our children never age out.”

Whats your biggest challenge?

Space. Services for children are located in about 20 locations in 11 buildings around the Mass General campus. We want our inpatient and outpatient facilities to match our superb care.

A centralized location would make it easier to schedule multiple appointments for children with complex disorders and create a uniform, appropriate environment for children and their families. An inpatient facility that meets the needs for privacy and safety of children with diverse medical, surgical and behavioral health conditions is also essential.

Donors help us do the right things for communities, locally and globally.

Other priorities include enhancing and expanding services like nutrition, music and art therapy and our child life program that reduce stress and help children cope with transitions from home to the hospital and back to the home.

How does philanthropy make a difference?

Donors have opportunities to make a tremendous impact. For example, our research in food allergies doesn’t just help children in Boston or even in the U.S. — the discoveries from this ongoing work benefit kids everywhere.

Ron Kleinman, MD
Ron Kleinman, MD

Our incredibly generous donors have made so much possible. Just to name a few — the Pediatric Emergency Department; the Palliative Care and Child Protection programs; the Newborn Follow-up Clinic; the Youth Concussion Clinic; and quality-of-life improvements like special chairs to help parents bond with their premature babies and iPads for patients waiting in the emergency department.

Donors help us do the right things for communities, locally and globally. Programs like our Center for Immigrant Health; advocacy efforts that change laws and save lives; substance use disorder and mental health programs; extensive efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in health care; community programs that support families where they live; and groundbreaking research in genetics, diabetes, celiac disease, bone health, traumatic brain injury, obesity and more.

What else is on your wish list?

  • Research support. Our clinicians and our scientists work side-by-side to understand what’s most important to the health and development of a child and bring discoveries from the lab to the patient’s bedside.
  • Endowments that invest in our talented faculty. Like a sports team, we want to recruit and retain the best.
  • Funds for specialists who improve quality of life. The valuable services that our child life specialists, social workers, music and art therapists and others provide are often not covered by insurance.

Its been quite a year. How has the pandemic affected MGHfC?

During the peak of COVID-19, many staff members pivoted to bring the same family-centered approach to care that we have always provided to children, to the care of adults.

Being treated with compassion, care and love makes a meaningful difference — something that enhances all the benefits of our cutting-edge medicine.

As an example, MGHfC stepped in to provide hospital rooms for children with mild COVID-19 symptoms when their parents who were hospitalized with COVID-19 could not care for them. This allowed parents to focus on their own recovery and know that their children were safe, healthy and happy.

Weve also developed a COVID-19 pediatric biorepository. This resource gives researchers access to obstetric, neonatal and pediatric specimens, which help answer questions about the unique child immune response to COVID-19 infection.

You have cared for children at Mass General for 40 years. Anything else you would like to share?

Theres no place that Id rather work. Im inspired daily by all those I have the privilege to work with and learn from at Mass General. And by the exceptional compassion and dedication of all the providers and staff to the well-being of our patients and their families.

When a child is in the hospital, it can be a frightening and vulnerable time for both the patient and their family. Being treated with compassion, care and love makes a meaningful difference — something that enhances all the benefits of our cutting-edge medicine.

You can help children and families everywhere by donating to MassGeneral Hospital for Children. To learn more, please contact us.