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When Dayson was three weeks old, he developed a viral infection called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). I brought him to the emergency department at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, where his care team responded with speed, warmth and compassion.

They made sure I understood what was going on while they did a thorough examination of Dayson. I remember one of his nurses, Jeannine Rockefeller, checking his heart. She told me that, "something didn't sound quite right." After an EKG and an echocardiogram, I was shocked to learn that he was born with cogenital heart disease. A cardiologist explained clearly that Dayson was born with pulmonary atresia and atrial septal and ventricular septal defects. The cardiology team took the time to explain exactly what each defect was and answered all of my questions and concerns. The next 11 months were really hard for him, and for our entire family. Dayson required four surgeries and lots of care. But the people at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital (YNHCH) helped us get through it, every step of the way.

They started by making me part of Dayson's care team. Every morning, I was invited to be part of medical rounds, a meeting of the medical team, to talk about his condition and treatment plan. As a member of the team, I was encouraged to ask questions and offer my insights. At YNHCH, they understand that parents not only want to be informed, they want to be active participants.

After Dayson's heart operation, his surgeon, Toshi Shin'oka, MD, stopped by every morning to see how Dayson was doing. I thought this said something about the excellent care patients receive at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Throughout the course of Dayson's hospitalization, our family was faced with many decisions regarding his discharge from the hospital and return home. Dayson's illness, recovery, and everyday needs were uncharted territory for us. Thankfully, Ginny Szondy, RN, our care coordinator, was a savior to us. She made sure we had all the medical equipment, supplies and services in place so I could take care of Dayson at home. With a great deal of patience and empathy, she walked us through everything that needed to be done before he could be discharged. Karen Zrenda, from the YNHCH Family Connections Program and Family Resource Center, shared community contacts and supports specific to Dayson's health care needs and those of my family. She assisted me in researching information and accessing the available tools and resources to support my role as Dayson's primary caregiver and advocate.  We could not have done it without them.

I can't imagine other families going through what we did without the help of all the team members at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital. The service they provide to families like ours is priceless.

Yale School of Medicine
Magnet Recognition Best Hospitals 2012-2013

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