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$375,000 Gift Funds Hospital Patient Education Program

PALO ALTO — When Michelle Ashland learned that her 6-month-old daughter, Miranda, had biliary atresia and needed a liver transplant, she began reading whatever she could get her hands on about the disease.

“The way I cope best is to have as much information as possible,” said Ashland. “I’m much calmer and able to make better decisions.”

The liver transplant team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital met with Ashland, answered her questions, provided her with a binder of material and negated some of the inaccurate, gloomy information she had found on the Internet. Miranda got her liver transplant, and has done well.

But not all parents have the capacity to do the necessary research, and medical information often is difficult to understand. So the Association of Auxiliaries, which supports programs at the hospital, recently made a gift of $375,000 from its endowment to help insure that parents like Ashland, and others who struggle to come to grips with a diagnosis, get the specific information they need on a level they can comprehend.

“On the day of discharge, parents are not necessarily prepared to take on caring for a sick child,” said Susan Flanagan, vice president for patient care services at Packard. “They are overwhelmed with care instructions they receive from nursing staff, nutritionists and therapists.”

With the new funds, Packard plans to hire a health educator to coordinate a new hospital-wide patient education program, along with a translator to provide materials for the 25 percent of the hospital’s patient population whose primary language is Spanish. Later, depending on the need, the information may be available in Russian, Cantonese and Tagalog. Staff also will be able to easily access information on a variety of diagnoses through the hospital’s intranet, or internal Web site.

It’s critical that hospital staff know how to teach parents to care for their children at home, Flanagan said. “Staff first need to assess a family’s ability to comprehend information, something rarely taught in nursing schools or other clinical care programs. That’s why having a health educator on staff is so important.”

The Auxiliaries’ Endowment was established in 1999. Its funds come from auxiliary members who specify in their wills that a percentage of their estates, including stock, real estate and cash, be given to Packard Children’s Hospital. The Endowment has since grown to almost $9 million and is a source of ongoing revenue that the Association of Auxiliaries makes available to the hospital to launch pioneering programs, such as patient education and cystic fibrosis research.

“For more than 80 years, the auxiliaries of Packard Children’s Hospital have raised funds for charity care,” said Karen Sutherland, president of the Association of Auxiliaries. “That’s not about to change, but the endowment provides additional funding for projects at pivotal junctures and helps expand existing services.”

The seven auxiliaries that support Packard are:
Charter Auxiliary, operates the This ‘n’ That Shop on Stanford Campus (formerly rummage sale)
Palo Alto Auxiliary, operates the Allied Arts Restaurant in Menlo Park
Roth Auxiliary, operates Gift Shop at Packard Children’s Hospital
San Francisco Auxiliary, hosts annual Jewel Ball
San Jose Auxiliary, operates the Thrift Box in Willow Glen
San Mateo-Burlingame Auxiliary, operates gift shop and art gallery in Burlingame
Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary, operates Allied Arts Guild

For information on planned giving on behalf of the hospital, call the bequest manager at the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health at (650) 736-1211.