“I know a thing or two about a great team. I’ve experienced what that’s like on the race track over the years; and I love it when I get to be a part of a great team off the race track. And that’s what I see here.”
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon said this to the crowd that gathered at Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast in Concord to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, May 23.
Twelve years ago, Gordon said the idea of doing something in the area came across his desk. He said the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation was looking for ways to grow, and originally discussed naming a room or something else smaller.
“That day turned into where we stand today, 10 years later,” Gordon said.
Since its opening this “hospital within a hospital,” as it’s called by staff, has served 16,000 children in the community.
“We wanted to show folks how serious we were about pediatric healthcare and what this community means to us,” Gordon said of his foundation and developing the hospital. “I could not be more proud of my community and my foundation and the work that happens here.”
Phyllis Wingate, division president for Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast, said 18 years ago local pediatricians approached hospital administration to discuss improvements that could be made to care for children in the community.
She said the goals were to keep children close to home, add specialists to the area and create an environment where kids would be taken care of well.
The community, the NorthEast Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation came together to make those dreams a reality.
“The result of those conversations was the birth of a unit in the hospital that we now know as the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital,” she said. “We think they did a fabulous job of creating and executing on that vision and that’s why we are here today. The system and this hospital is really committed to quality care for pediatric patients in our community and we look forward to continuing to grow and develop Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital in the future.”
Stories from families
During the celebration two mothers shared stories of the care their children received during stays at Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital and personally thanked the former NASCAR driver and his foundation for making it possible.
Amanda Kioukis said her daughter Khloe was admitted to the hospital after a drowning incident. As a result, Khloe was diagnosed with PVL, a white-matter brain injury that could cause seizures.
Hospital staff told the family the Khloe would have to come in for an electroencephalogram (EEG) test which would detect electrical activity in the brain.
“Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital would become our family,” Kioukis said.
Prior to the test, Khloe met a patient advocate and received a tour of the facility. When the test day came, she arrived to find a room with a princess sign and toys.
“As a parent, seeing your child excited for an upcoming test put my heart and mind at ease,” Kioukis said. “The teamwork shown throughout the process of getting the test up and running was amazing. Not once did any of them (staff) become frustrated or did I feel like they were rushed to leave. They all worked together to meet our end goal, and that was to get her on the EEG and not have to restrain her and cause her to be upset.”
What Kioukis said she and her family experienced with the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital was compassion. And when Khloe was readmitted for pneumonia later, the care was outstanding as ever.
Kioukis, who works in the oncology unit at Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast, said she never thought she would see her daughter on the other side of the bed. But she knew that Khloe was receiving the best care possible.
“At Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital the staff make sure that the patients know they are cared for, they are loved and they will work together to make sure that everyone, not just the patients but also the families, are at ease,” Kioukis said.
Linda Hargrove also shared the story of her son Caleb who was...
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