Caroline Miller Endowed Fund for Nursing Education and "Katie and Caroline P.I.C. YOU!" Award
While our story is not something anyone in our family would ever care to re-live and would never wish upon any other family; it is a story that introduced us to a truly amazing place. It is a story about meeting a group of people whom our family can never adequately thank or repay. Above all, it is thankfully a story with a happy ending that was only made possible by the extraordinary nurses, doctors, and staff of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Our story began a few days before Christmas 2012 when our 5-year old daughter Caroline was diagnosed with influenza A and double pneumonia. Within 12 hours of her initial flu diagnosis her condition deteriorated so rapidly that she had to be taken by helicopter from our local hospital in New Jersey to CHOP. Caroline suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and had to be intubated and placed in a drug induced coma on an oscillating ventilator for two weeks.
We will never forget the weeks we spent in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at CHOP, but most importantly we will never forget the wonderful nurses who were there with us through the whole ordeal. The nurses who sacrificed hours upon hours and days upon days helping Caroline, helping her big sister Katie, and helping us as parents understand every aspect of what was going on with our daughter.
Every nurse treated Caroline as their own child. Always using kind words. Always talking to Caroline even if she couldn’t hear them. Addressing her by name, introducing themselves and telling her what they were about to do and what it would feel like and why they were doing it. All while she was asleep. All whether we were in the room or not. It was never for show.
We cannot begin to tell you how many times we would look up at the clock in our hospital room and realized it was almost time for a shift change. We’d get a sick feeling, “oh no, is this where our luck has run out…who are they going to even attempt to put in to fill Nurse Heather’s shoes?” and to our disbelief another wonderful Nurse would fill in and bring her own unique gift or talent or level of care to Caroline’s bedside.
On many occasions our nurses would be moved to a different wing of the ICU for the remainder of their schedule. Yet, they often checked in on their breaks or at the end of their shifts to see how Caroline was progressing and many times just to ask us how we were holding up.
On Christmas Eve, Nurse Kaitlyn went to work giving Caroline a pedicure. Early Christmas morning we awoke to find Caroline’s little toes painted red and green. It was true “Mistle-‘toe’”. And it would be one of the first things Caroline noticed when she was taken off the paralytics.
But that wasn't all. The nurses got together and wrote our oldest daughter a “note from Santa”; decorated it with glitter and tied it up with IV tubing. It was left at the foot of Caroline’s bed on Christmas morning for Katie to find. “Don’t worry” the note said; Santa knows you and Caroline are here. Santa promised to make a second trip from the North Pole once Caroline was better and back home. CHOP saved Christmas too.
This foundation is dedicated to the extraordinary nurses of CHOP. Nurse Heather, Nurse Kaitlyn, Nurses Keira, Kelsea, Chelsea, Brittany, Meghan, Mary, Lisa, Lindsey, Richard and many more we most certainly remember and will never forget. Each night before we fall asleep we recite those names as if they were our CHOP rosary, truly grateful for every single one of them!
The time, dedication, love and unbelievable knowledge bestowed on our family by the nurses at CHOP can never be repaid. However, we hope that Caroline's Foundation can help support these extraordinary individuals by helping them continue their on-going medical education and training.
Our Foundation helps provide funding for CHOP nurses to participate in on-going continuing education programs held both at CHOP and at other children's hospitals worldwide. The goal of these educational programs is to help provide the nurses with training in the latest diagnostic, rehabilitative and patient care programs and technologies.
In addition, we help support small awards to the wonderful PICU nurses through the "Katie and Caroline "P.I.C. YOU!" Program. The awards recognize outstanding performance and patient care by three PICU nurses each month throughout the year as selected through a nomination and vote by their peers.