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Teens make an imPACT

Conquest - Summer 2013

Related story: Patients of all ages

By Joey Tran

When it comes to family-centered care, MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital is leading by example. This model of health care delivery puts patients and their families first, and weaves their input into the fabric of the hospital.

The latest example is a group that welcomes teens to have a voice: imPACT, the Patient Advisory Council for Teens. This group, which includes patients and survivors younger than 18, works to improve the hospital experience for pediatric patients.

“One of the best aspects of the group is that it consists of patients currently in treatment, as well as long-term survivors. It’s really incredible to see this diverse group come together to make our hospital a better place,” says Lauren Shinn, a child life specialist and imPACT co-facilitator with art teacher Mindy LeBoeuf.

Aiming to help improve the quality of care and make the pediatric cancer experience the best it can be, the council picked technology, food and hospital environment as the platform for its first year’s agenda.

Last year, AT&T made a generous donation of 18 Pantech Element tablets. ImPACT members incorporated the tablets into the Patient Tablet Donor Program, which lends them out, along with laptops, to help teen patients maintain their online connections during their stay at the hospital.

Teen opinions valued

Other significant contributions include collaborating with MD Anderson’s Department of Clinical Nutrition. Members participated in a food tasting and provided feedback to hospital chefs and managers. Based on this feedback, the department began the process of finding local venders who could provide halal (Middle Eastern) foods to help meet the needs of the institution’s multicultural population.

This year, the council created an art piece from a collection of childhood trinkets and toys. This piece is installed in the newly remodeled children’s hospital as a representation of the pediatric perspective. Also, the council participated in a research-based survey that helped determine the type of artwork that is appropriate for pediatric settings.

They have also partnered with the children’s hospital’s education program to develop a resource for teens to help them talk to their peers about their cancer treatment. Shinn sits on the Family Advisory Council and imPACT, as a liaison between the two groups.

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