Eight-year-old patient repays staffs kindness with gift for pediatric patients

September 09, 2010


Having to go to the hospital is never easy. But for the pediatric patients who come to New Hanover Regional

Alyssa Callahan and her mom,
Tricia, are so grateful for the
care they received at NHRMC.
Medical Center, the experience can be even more difficult. Often children are nervous and scared, and parents are equally so. But sometimes having caring staff can make all the difference in turning a frightening experience into a more comfortable one for both the patients and their families. 

This was true when Alyssa Callahan, 8, came in to have an echocardiogram in May. After being diagnosed with pneumonia, the doctors were concerned and sent Alyssa to NHRMC's Cardiac Services Department for the test. Her mom, Tricia, recalls how frightened she was. 

But she says the staff, including technician Dianne Caudill who did Alyssa's echo, was wonderful. Not only did they help Tricia through the procedure, they went above and beyond to ease Alyssa's fears. Tricia recalls that the staff gave Alyssa a doll and a ring, and she noticed the effect of the small gesture immediately on her daughter. 

"It's amazing how one little thing makes kids so happy. It made her day," Tricia said, adding that Alyssa would not let go of the doll. 

Alyssa wanted to do something  not only to thank the staff, but to help other children feel better. After finding out that the staff had put together the small stash of items to give to children coming in for testing and were responsible for replenishing it themselves, Tricia said she knew they had to do something to repay their kindness. 

Alyssa and Tricia went to the store and picked out several stuffed animals - filling two shopping bags. They brought the donation into Cardiac Services along with a Thank You note that Alyssa had written. The gift was a huge hit with the staff as well as the children who benefited from the donation.    

The staff was impressed by Alyssa as well and commented on what a sweet little girl she was. The pneumonia was a blessing in disguise, said Dianne, noting that they discovered an enlarged pulmonary artery and a small hole in Alyssa's heart. Thankfully, Alyssa is healthy and fine following her scare.

Technician Dianne Caudill, left,
and Lead Echo Technician Rachel
Marshall with Alyssa

Marlene Sigler, Manager of Cardiac Rehab and the Cardiovascular Lab, asked Alyssa if she would be willing to draw a picture to go along with the animals. Alyssa loved the idea, and Tricia says she got right to it the minute they got into the car. The picture -  entitled a "Note from Alyssa" - will hopefully help other kids going through their procedures. 

Tricia says she is grateful for the staff at NRHMC and she praised them for their treatment of her daughter. 

"Here at NHRMC, they made her feel comfortable in the room. Dianne was wonderful with her and made her feel so at ease. I just appreciated their discretion, their attention to the details."

Alyssa said that making the donation made her feel so good, and she is thrilled that other kids will see her picture and her note and get to bring home a small treat. The Callahans and the staff have created a strong bond, and Tricia said she can never repay them for the excellent care they gave to her daughter.