I know the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. I know it as an employee. I know it as a local. And, just recently, I know it as a mom.
As the assistant director of development at CHOG, I have the opportunity to walk through its sliding glass doors on Harper Street and see miracles every day. I’ve done it every day for 13 years. CHOG has shaped who I am as a person. I’m grateful. I’m encouraged. I’m proud. I’m lucky to work side by side with some of the most amazing, intelligent and selfless people I’ve ever known. It’s my second home; I love it.
But it’s not home for everyone. I’ve lived in Augusta my entire life. Sadly, I didn’t always know we had a children’s hospital in our community. That’s hard to imagine. Even harder, imagine not having a hospital specifically dedicated to children in your hometown. It’s part of my job to meet with families who travel far and wide to have a child cared for at CHOG. They all share one thing in common. They all know how fortunate Augusta families are that we have this incredible institution here in our own backyard. I agree. Any mom with a child at CHOG would.
And I was. In January of 2016, my son McClendon came down with a severe case of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). He was 7 months old. I was scared. For the first time, I walked through those sliding glass doors as a mom, not an employee. For the past 13 years, I’ve delivered the message to donors, sponsors and families that our hospital was the very best place for sick children. I always believed it then. Now, I always will. My husband and I spent four nights on the fourth floor of CHOG. Over the course of those four days, we were able to experience the level of care all children and families receive. Our son was treated by Dr. David Freeman, the best of the best! But honestly, he may have treated me just as much. To this day, I still ask him 100 questions a week. He’s always answered this worried mom with a smile on his face. But it wasn’t just Dr. Freeman. Every person we came in contact with that week from nursing, respiratory therapy, patient care tech and environmental services made us feel like we were in the right place for our son. All of our docs are incredibly busy, but they always take the time to answer my crazy first-time-mom questions (even at all hours). They genuinely care. That means everything to me.
CHOG is here for you at 3 in the morning when your child’s temp spikes a little too high for your comfort level; they are here for you when you receive the devastating news that your child has been diagnosed with something like cancer; and they are here for you when your baby decides to make his or her arrival too early. CHOG is here for you whenever you need it, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day for minor cuts and scrapes to major trauma and/or illness. The physicians, nurses, therapists and child life specialists go above and beyond to make you feel like you are a part of the team — keeping you in the loop every step of the way.
From the 500 babies seen in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) each year, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which cares for children from birth to 21 years of age with life-threatening illnesses and trauma injuries; the Surgery unit, which performs more than 6,600 surgeries each year, the emergency department that receives over 26,000 visits a year, the outpatient clinics with over 90,000 visits a year to the 80 pediatric subspecialists, 500 nurses and multiple therapists who treat our patients and families — I am incredibly grateful and blessed to be just a small part of this organization. We are all blessed to have CHOG in our community.
Finally, I wouldn’t be in development if I didn’t take the time to say thanks. Thank you so much to all of the sponsors, donors and volunteers that help make CHOG as wonderful as it is. There will always be work to be done, but we could not have the wonderful care and programs that we have here at CHOG without your support and love every year. Thank you for your partnership and making a difference for our KIDS!