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Q&A with Karen Jenkins

Description of Your Relationship with Tufts Medical Center and/or Floating Hospital for Children:

My name is Karen Jenkins. My son John was born at Tufts Medical Center in 2005. He was born with 5 major heart defects, had 2 open heart surgeries before the age of 2, as well as several other minor surgical procedures and is now a healthy patient in the Pediatric Cardiology Dept. at Floating. My mom had open heart surgery last year and is a healthy patient in the Cardiology Dept. at Tufts Medical Center. I was a patient; I am a mom of patient as well as a daughter of a patient. Floating Hospital is our home away from home. John’s medical team is transparent, caring and are dedicated to keeping him healthy. He is now a teenager! 

What advice would you offer patients and/or their families who are receiving care at Tufts Medical Center (or Floating Hospital for Children) to make their stay easier/most comfortable:

Take care of yourself first. This is the the best advice that was given to my husband and I was when we had to leave our son overnight in the PICU after his first open heart surgery. The nurses told us that they are the best babysitters in the world and we need our sleep so when he is ready to go home we are rested, healthy and ready for the challenges that going home would bring. Your patient will need you to be healthy and strong when they go home from the hospital. Also, ask every question that you can, even the uncomfortable ones. Your medical team is the experts in your healthcare journey.

The Child Life Specialists- distracted both my son and I during some scary times. They always have games, toys and books available. 

What helped you most during your stay/your family member’s stay at Tufts Medical Center (or Floating Hospital for Children):

The medical staff was very caring and thoughtful. Every person on staff at Tufts treated us like family. We also would bring John up to Ace’s Place on the 8th Floor of the Floating Hospital. Ace’s Place is a playroom for all of pediatric patients at Tufts. Upon entering the playroom you do not feel as though you are in a hospital which was wonderful for all of us to have a little break from our hospital stay.

What area amenities (stores, restaurants, etc.) did you/your family find helpful:

We loved going to Rock Bottom for their comfort food. We also enjoyed the cafeteria on the first floor of the Floating Hospital near the parking garage elevators. On the PICU floor they did have a small kitchen with a microwave and refrigerator that we would use when family members would bring us takeout. Walking in the Boston Public Garden (even in the snow!) Leave your cell number with the PA/Nurse just in case.

Anything else you would like to say to patients and/or their family members:

We participate in the Harbor Walk & Run every year as a thank you to Tufts for their amazing support for our son. If you have the opportunity to pay it forward to this wonderful hospital please do. Tufts Medical Center is our home away from home.

 

A patient at the Cancer Center at Tufts Medical Center.

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