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Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando.
Families from across Central Florida walked the red carpet for a V.I.P. (Very Important Patient) event at Nemours Children’s Hospital on Tuesday morning. The party was in honor of the hospital’s one-year anniversary and it celebrated the specialized pediatric care now available in the region — care that’s been transforming lives since opening day.
“My family used to travel to Boston so my son could see the specialist he requires,” said Colleen Labbadia of Oviedo, Fla., who attended the celebration with her 3-year-old son Brendan. “Now I don’t have to get on a plane for my son’s doctor appointments. Thanks to Nemours Children’s Hospital, we just jump in the car and in 20 minutes, Brendan can be seen by a world-renowned doctor who’s an expert in his condition. It has truly changed our lives.”
Brendan Labbadia and his mom, Colleen. Brendan is a patient of Dr. Richard Finkel at Nemours Children's Hospital.
Brendan Labbadia has a rare neuromuscular disorder. Nemours Children’s Hospital is home to a Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic, something that was not available in Central Florida before the hospital opened. Brendan sees four different Nemours specialists, each of them collaborating to provide Brendan the best possible care.
“All of us come together with a single focus: What’s best for Brendan and his family?” said Dr. Richard Finkel, chief of neurology at Nemours Children’s Hospital. “Specialists need to collaborate but it isn’t always the norm. Here at Nemours Children’s Hospital, it is. And that’s what makes the care that children and families receive here truly unique.”
Nemours Children’s Hospital saw its first patient on Oct. 22, 2012, in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City. Prior to opening, Nemours focused on recruiting specialists who offered care that was not previously available in Central Florida. It is one of the reasons why in its first year, Nemours Children’s Hospital treated patients from 20 countries, 41 states and nearly every county in Florida.
“I am proud that the specialized care we offer is helping Central Florida become a destination for world-class children’s health care in addition to world-class vacations,” said Roger Oxendale, CEO of Nemours Children’s Hospital and senior vice president of The Nemours Foundation. “It is our honor and privilege to care for children and families from Central Florida and beyond.”
At the V.I.P celebration, families were photographed and showered with enthusiastic questions from “paparazzi,” who were actually Nemours Associates behind cameras wearing press hats. The event also included a 9-year-old emcee who wore a tuxedo, top hat and tails, and led the crowd in singing happy birthday.
Other families joining the celebration also saw their lives transformed by the unique care offered by Nemours over the past year.
Here are a few more V.I.P. stories:
Last summer, 11-year-old Grace was complaining of a severe pain in her right knee, which turned out to be a bone tumor. Dr. Craig Johnson was able to perform a minimally invasive procedure that had her back on her feet in no time. The next day the pain was gone and soon after, she was back to dancing and gymnastics. Dr. Johnson is one of fewer than 100 pediatric interventional radiologists in the country and one of only two in Florida. The second Florida-based practitioner is also at Nemours Children’s Hospital.
Kylie, now 3-year-old, was born with a gastrointestinal condition that prevented her from fully absorbing nutrients from the food she consumed. It’s a condition that made her very sick and in some children, has proven to be fatal. Nemours pediatric surgeon Dr. Cartland Burns is the only physician in the Southeast who performs the special procedure that dramatically improved her life.
Zoey, now 6-months-old, was Nemours Children’s Hospital’s very first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patient. She was born at only 26 weeks, weighing a little more than a pound and a half. For three months, Zoey had a highly experienced NICU team nursing her to health so she could go home weighing a healthy six pounds, just a few days shy of mom’s actual due date.