Family honors veteran’s memory with toy drive for KCH

Jonathan Edward Ard always wanted to serve his country. As an Eagle Scout, he lived his life by the Boy Scout creed, vowing to always help others. After the events of 9/11, he joined the army where he trained to become a member of the U.S. Special Forces and served two tours of duty in Iraq.

But to his family and friends, “Jon” was so much more than a soldier; he was a big kid at heart who delighted in shopping for toys to donate at Christmas.

“Purchasing and donating toys was a cherished Christmas tradition for him,” said Jon’s older brother Michael. His family honored Jon’s memory by continuing that tradition on the first anniversary of his death.

During his tours in Iraq, Jon was exposed to toxic burn pits and depleted uranium. Little was known at the time of the long-term effects of the exposure.

After returning from Iraq, Jon graduated from Eastern Kentucky University, got married and started a family. He was working as an engineer at 3M when he began to experience flu-like symptoms in the summer of 2015.

On Oct. 28, 2015, Jon was diagnosed with leukemia and was admitted to the UK Markey Cancer Center for several rounds of chemotherapy, during which his second daughter, Elizabeth, was born. In February 2016, Jon underwent a bone marrow transplant with stem cells from an anonymous donor.

“While going through chemo and the stem cell transplant, he often expressed concern for children who might be going through cancer treatment,” said Jon’s mother LaBera.

Though the transplant went well, Jon developed pneumonia and passed away on Dec. 14, 2016. At Jon’s visitation and memorial service, the family requested toys in lieu of flowers or other offerings. Jon’s pickup truck was parked in front of the church, and visitors were asked to put their donations in the truck, which would be driven to Kentucky Children’s Hospital after the service.

Visitors filled the truck five times over.

“Jonathan was a generous person and a big kid at heart and loved selecting and purchasing toys to donate to local toy drives at Christmas,” his mother said. “To continue a celebration of Jonathan’s life and some of the things that made him so dear to us, we decided to collect toys again this year for donation to KCH and deliver them on the anniversary of his death.”

Friends, Jon’s coworkers from 3M and members of the community generously donated over a thousand toys. His family delivered them on the anniversary of Jon’s passing. The donations collected by the Ards were made available to the parents of patients at KCH’s Winter Wonderland Toy Workshop, an annual event where parents select Christmas gifts for their children without having to leave the hospital.

“One of the things my brother Jon really enjoyed doing was Christmas shopping and bringing the toys he had and donating them to the children in need at the hospital,” Michael said. “So we thought that was a fitting way to honor his memory.”


Next steps:

  • Interested in donating to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital? Visit Give to KCH to learn more about ways you can support our mission.
  • Markey’s new state-of-the-art 11th floor will allow our care teams to treat more patients with complex cancer diagnoses, including blood cancers such as leukemia.

Fire safety tips for the holiday season

Putting out decorations and baking special recipes create wonderful memories during the holiday season, but there’s also a risk. House fires occur more during the winter holidays than at any other time of the year.

Keep your holidays festive and your loved ones safe with these fire safety tips:

  • Pay attention to your Christmas tree. If using a real tree, keep it watered, and keep heat sources at least three feet away. If using a fake tree, make sure that it’s flame retardant. In either case, use a sturdy tree stand that won’t fall over.
  • Be mindful when you decorate. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, and only use flame resistant or flame retardant decorations. Replace broken pieces or loose cords.
  • Unplug decorations when you’re sleeping or away. Keep your tree, lights and other electronic decorations unplugged when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • Be careful with candles. The incidence of candle fires is highest in December. Never leave flames unattended, and blow out each candle before leaving the room or going to bed. Never use lit candles near your tree.
  • Install smoke alarms. Test them monthly, and put in fresh batteries at least once a year. You should have one in the kitchen, on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  • Have your fireplace inspected. The chimney walls may need cleaning. Use a screen to embers from escaping, and only burn seasoned wood – no wrapping paper or other materials.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking or baking. Keep flammable items like pot holders, oven mitts or food packaging away from your stovetop.
  • Always supervise children and pets. Keep them away from candles, matches and lighters, and watch them around other decorations.
  • Clean up after the holidays. Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it’s dry. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard, so don’t leave them in your garage or outside leaning against your house. Also bring outdoor electrical lights inside to prevent hazards.

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concussions

Podcast: UK athletic trainer talks childhood concussions

UK HealthCastUK HealthCast is a new podcast series from UK HealthCare featuring in-depth interviews with our experts on a variety of health-related topics. Subscribe to UK HealthCast today wherever you listen to podcasts!

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Not all concussions in young athletes look the same.

They may appear immediately after contact in a game or practice, or they may not show up until much later. They can pass quickly or take months to heal. Although every concussion is different, they are more likely to happen in contact sports, such as football, hockey, lacrosse and soccer.

Parents, coaches and young athletes – listen below to our conversation with Peter Gray, an athletic trainer at the UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine and the head athletic trainer at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, to learn more about the symptoms of concussions and what you can do after a concussion occurs.


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safe-sleep

Kentucky Children’s Hospital is the state’s only Safe Sleep Hospital

Helping babies sleep safely is a priority for all of us at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. That’s why we’re so proud to have been named as Kentucky’s only Cribs for Kids National Gold Certified Safe Sleep Hospital.

This honor recognizes our commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by encouraging safe-sleep practices both in the hospital and after babies go home.

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) in the nation, but at  KCH, we’re working hard to reverse that trend.

Our nurses receive training about safe sleep so that they can educate and model safe-sleep practices for families. In addition, parents and caregivers watch a video about safe sleep prior to their baby’s discharge home and have a discussion with nurses about SUID risk-reduction strategies.

Tips for safe sleep

In honor of our recognition, here are 10 tips to ensure your baby is sleeping safely, courtesy of our friends at Cribs for Kids:

1. Always place your baby alone, on her back and in a crib every time she sleeps.

2. Always use a firm, flat crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Car seats and other sitting devices, such as swings, wedges, and devices that position your baby on an incline, are not safe for sleep.

3. Check to make sure that your crib has not been recalled. In addition, cribs with missing hardware should not be used. Do not attempt to fix broken components of a crib, as many infant deaths are associated with cribs that are broken or have missing parts (including those that have presumably been fixed).

4. Share your room, not your bed. Do not share your bed with your children. Bed-sharing puts babies at risk of suffocation, strangulation and SUID. Studies have found that bed-sharing is the most common cause of deaths in babies, especially those 3 months old and younger.

Instead, you may share your room with your child by having a crib in the room, a bassinet or portable crib near your bed, a separate crib attached to your bed, or a similar arrangement.

5. Do not smoke near pregnant women or infants. Your home and your car should both be smoke-free. Eliminate second-hand smoke from all places in which children and other nonsmokers spend time.

6. Do not use bumper pads or similar items that attach to crib slats. There is no evidence that these items prevent injury in young infants, but they do present a risk for for suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.

7. Don’t overheat or overdress your baby. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult (between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit).

8. Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of sleep-related death. If possible, babies should be breastfed for the first six months of their life.

9. Avoid devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. These devices include wedges, positioners, special mattresses and special sleep surfaces. There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or that they are safe.

10. Travel is one of the biggest causes of sleep disturbances for babies. As you pack your bags to travel for holidays, remember to include what you’ll need to ensure a separate, safe sleeping environment for your baby while away from home. If you plan to stay in a hotel, ask in advance if they have cribs available that you can use in your room.


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Ensure a safe holiday season with these toy safety tips

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are on the search for that perfect gift, but remember, safety should always be the number one priority.

Toys are a fun and important part of your infant or toddler’s development, but each year, many kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Here are a few toy safety tips to keep in mind:

Check the materials

  • Read labels. Most toys should have a recommended age range, so follow it. All toys should be flame retardant or flame resistant, and dolls and other stuffed toys should be washable and made of hygienic materials.
  • Check hand-me-downs. Older toys might have sentimental value, but make sure that they are both safe and age-appropriate. Toys made before 1978 may have lead paint.
  • Check for choking hazards. Throw away the wrapping and packaging. Beware of small magnets and batteries, which are easily swallowed and cause many health risks. Choking is a particular risk for children under 3.

Check the size, shape and function

  • Give toys the toilet paper roll test. If a toy could fit inside a toilet paper roll, then it’s a choking hazard, and too small for an infant or toddler.
  • Don’t allow toys with strings or cords longer than 12 inches. These are also choking hazards and shouldn’t be used or hung in cribs or playpens.
  • No toys with sharp points or edges, removable parts or loud noises. Excessive noise can be harmful to young ears.

Your role as a parent

  • Supervise your children as they play. Teach your children how to use their toys the right way – this includes putting toys away when playtime is over, which removes tripping hazards.
  • Conduct regular “toy maintenance.” Look for broken parts or other potential hazards. Check outdoor toys for rust or weak spots, and check wooden toys for splinters. Broken toys can expose dangerous points, edges or wires.
  • Enlist the help of older siblings. Young children are curious and might want to play with toys that aren’t age-appropriate, so teach older children to keep their own toys out of reach from their younger siblings.

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Annual Circle of Love donation drive gives toys to kids across Kentucky

The holiday season is quickly approaching and for the 31st year, the UK community is preparing for the annual Circle of Love, an event that provides UK employees and students the opportunity to fulfill the wishes of hundreds of children in need from 10 Kentucky counties.

Thanks to the generosity, compassion and teamwork of UK HealthCare employees, volunteers and students, all Circle of Love children have been sponsored for 2017. At 8 a.m., Friday, Dec. 8 a troop of UK HealthCare Circle of Love committee members will help Santa Claus load school buses and vans with gifts for hundreds of local children and families needing assistance during the holiday season.

Circle of Love is organized by UK Volunteer Services and UK Hospital Auxiliary. For further information, contact Katie Tibbitts, manager of Volunteer Services at 859-323-6023.


Next steps:

  • Interested in donating to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital? Visit Give to KCH to learn more about ways you can support our mission.
  • When your child is sick or hurt, you want the best care possible. That’s exactly what you get at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Learn more about our services.

 

UK psychologist helps sick kids manage the stress of treatment

Treatment for any serious medical condition can be daunting for even the most fearless adults. But for children who deal with serious illness, fear, anxiety and a lack of understanding can make it difficult for them to cope with their treatment.

Dr. Meghan Marsac, pediatric psychologist and assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine, saw how many parents and children struggled to navigate the stress and logistics of treatment.

“When I was helping kids and parents adjust to what life was like with pediatric cancer, there were a lot of things we were teaching over and over again,” Marsac said. “Parents wouldn’t know these things. You’re not supposed to have a kid with cancer.”

And so Cellie was born. Designed by Marsac during her fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Cellie Coping Kit was developed for children ages 6-12, and includes of a plush toy named Cellie, a deck of cards with coping and communication techniques, and a book for caregivers. The first Cellie kit was geared toward children with cancer, but has since been adapted for children with sickle cell disease, traumatic injuries and food allergies. A kit for eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergy condition that causes inflammation of the esophagus, is in the works, as is a kit for the siblings of children with illness or disability.

How Cellie helps

The kit is designed not only to comfort children during their illness, but also to provide them with the tools they need to understand their treatment and communicate their feelings.

The coping cards address various “stressors” children can face, including scary procedures (such as needle sticks), emotional stress and side effects of treatment such as nausea or hair loss. The kit also addresses how to manage situations such as missed school or playing outside. The caregiver book parallels the cards, giving parents the advice on how to address their child’s concerns.

“We reviewed the cards and that helped [our son] understand that some of the feelings he has are similar to other children here,” said one parent. “So he didn’t feel like he was alone.”

For example, the card in the child’s kit that addresses a fear of needle sticks lists several tips, including “squeezing Cellie tight and looking at Cellie until it is over” or “telling your nurse or parent a story.”

“The pain tips help me,” said one child. “The pain thermometer, the faces, and the belly breathing card…that helped me a lot.”

Working together to help families cope

Much of Marsac’s research is centered around developing and evaluating programs designed to help parents and children manage medical conditions and preventing long-term emotional impairment after illness or injury.

Cellie was initially developed to help Marsac’s pediatric cancer patients, but she recognized the need for coping tools for children with a variety of conditions. The Cellie Coping Kit for sickle cell disease shares many components with the cancer kit. The food allergy kit was designed after Marsac’s conversation with one of her students about the dearth of allergy resources for children.

Marsac and her team worked directly with doctors, nurses, psychologists, child-life specialists and families to develop the kit. Extensive research was conducted to determine what was most difficult for families when it came to navigating treatment and what medical teams could do to assist families. Families reported that the kit was a useful tool in promoting conversations about illness in the family.

“[Our daughter] just become more aware about [her condition] by reading the cards and asking a lot of questions,” said one parent. “Some of the things on the cards she didn’t understand before, so she has more of an education now.

“This is all the stuff we’ve been going through.”

Children who learn early how to discuss their illness are better equipped to manage it better as adults, Marsac said.

“We know that physical and emotional health are intertwined,” she said. “Our team’s goal is to support both parts of health, and the kits are designed to walk families through treatment.”


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Photo gallery: WWE star visits Kentucky Children's Hospital

WWE star brings cheer to patients at Kentucky Children’s Hospital

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, WWE star wrestler Jinder Mahal visited kids, families and staff at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and our wrestling superfans were thrilled to meet him!

Check out the photos below.


Next steps:

Join us this Saturday for our annual breakfast with Santa

Santa will make his annual visit to UK HealthCare this weekend, along with UK athletes, cheerleaders and mascots to delight and entertain Kentucky Children’s Hospital patients and UK HealthCare families. Breakfast will be provided at 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 2 in the UK Chandler Hospital Dining facility in Pavilion A.

Children will have the opportunity to share their holiday wish list with Santa, sing carols and receive goodies handed out by UK athletes and volunteers.

Tickets are available now in the Pavilion H/A corridor from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. until sold out. For more information, call Volunteer Services at 323-6023.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, which provides more than 30 advanced sub-specialty programs in children’s health.
  • Interested in donating to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital? Visit Give to KCH to learn more about ways you can support our mission.

Want your kids to stay smoke-free? Start with these tips.

Anti-smoking messages seem to be everywhere, but still every year thousands of teenagers try cigarettes. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. Here are some tips:

  • Start early. Begin talking to your kids when they’re 5 or 6, and keep the conversation going. Be sure to keep the information you share appropriate to their age.
  • Be honest. Ask your kids what they find appealing and unappealing about smoking. If you smoke or have smoked, tell to your children why it was such a bad decision.
  • Set a good example. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. If you’ve had trouble quitting, talk to you kids about why it’s so hard and why you wish you’d never started.
  • Make it real and share statistics. Using tobacco causes many serious health problems and has a negative effect on the way we look, smell, feel and act.
  • Encourage anti-smoking activities. Sports, band or other school activities inhibit smoking, keep kids busy and encourage healthy behavior.
  • Talk about peer pressure. Offer good examples of how to say no to tobacco (and other bad influences).
  • Have clear punishments. Let your children know how you will discipline them if they smoke.
  • Spend time with your kids. Share meals together, plan activities or find fun ways to connect.

Remember, children are influenced by their friends and what they see on TV and online, but parents are still the most important influence in their lives.


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