Like many children who receive cancer treatment, Ava Doiron-Frankland had to move from the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology clinic to radiation and other specialty areas. All of that traveling made for a long walk, so her parents, Michael Doiron and Jeffrey Frankland, transported Ava in a wheelchair. Her small frame and exhaustion from treatments made for an uncomfortable journey to and from her appointments. Pillows and blankets to pad the IV pole and fill in the extra space in the seat were the Doiron-Frankland’s only solution to make Ava more comfortable.
Ava passed away in the spring of 2016 at age 8, but Doiron was inspired by his daughter’s experience to join the Patient and Family Advisory Council (FAC) in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and the Family Advisory Council at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), where he shared his idea to bring child-friendly wheelchairs to MGHfC. In July 2017, MGHfC introduced 11 child-sized wheelchairs in various clinics in the Yawkey building.
The wheelchairs are part of a pilot program with the hope of expanding to other clinical areas, said Elyse Levin-Russman, LICSW, MSW, a clinical social worker and facilitator of the FAC in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MGHfC. “Central to our core values and mission, these wheelchairs are meant to enhance the patient experience,” said Levin-Russman. “Right now, they are in the Yawkey lobby and on Yawkey 6. Yawkey 8B and in Proton Radiation. They are for any child, but particularly those who feel very weak or sick or those with a temporary disability, like a broken leg.”
The wheelchairs were a collaborative effort among the FACs at MGHfC and Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (chaired by Sandy Clancy, PhD, program manager for Pediatric Palliative Care at MGHfC), Social Work, Materials Management, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Police and Security and Pediatric Administration. The team worked with Tom Halliday of Halliday Medical Marketing, Inc., to create wheelchairs with children and their families in mind. Each wheelchair, complete with the MGHfC logo on the back, has a padded IV pole, a smaller seat and adjustable leg rests.
“Despite being shorter in height than the average adult wheelchair, the handles are also higher so families and staff do not have to bend down when they transport children,” said Susan Riley, PT, MS, DPT, PCS, a physical therapist who worked with Halliday Medical and her MGHfC colleagues to make suggestions on how to make the wheelchairs child- and family-friendly. “This was an important area of opportunity for us to make an impact and make our patients and families’ experiences just a little better.”
The FAC at MGHfC comprises family members, hospital leaders and patient-care staff who work together to promote family-centered care, focus on improved quality and patient satisfaction. If you know of a parent, patient over the age of 16 or family member interested in joining the FAC, please email FAC@partners.org