By William K. Alcorn
Since Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley opened five years ago on the Beeghly Campus, it has treated children in more than 117,000 emergency visits and performed nearly 4,000 pediatric surgeries.
The Akron-based hospital filled a big void here after Forum Health closed Tod Children’s Hospital, said James Brown, chief operating officer of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt, which conducts its annual Koins for Kids to raise awareness and money for Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley.
Brown said his reason for working for Akron Children’s, and that of Leonard Fisher, president of Handel’s, stems from their personal experiences of having children who needed the services of a children’s hospital.
“My middle daughter was seriously ill and was cared for at UPMC’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. You don’t know what a bad day is until you have a seriously sick child. When I brought her home, I said that some way, somehow I would pay this forward,” said Brown.
The Mahoning Valley is very fortunate to have a full-blown, world-class pediatric hospital in a community this size, he said.
Having Akron Children’s in the Valley eases many of the stresses of having a child in a faraway hospital, such as work and finding someone to take care of the rest of the family and the expense of transportation and motels, he said.
“It’s stressful enough just focusing on getting your child better. You don’t even know where to look,” said Brown.
Handel’s is emblematic of the type of support Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley has garnered from the community.
It was philanthropic support that led to the opening of the Ronald McDonald McFamily Respite Center in 2009, the Garden of Hope and the Kikel Center for Pediatric Surgery in 2010, and Alex’s Playground in 2012, among other programs and services. Since 2008, more than $9.3 million has been donated in support of Mahoning Valley programs and services, said JoAnn Stock, director of development for the Boardman hospital.
“It’s amazing to me how generous the people of this area are,” said Brown, who grew up in Beaver Falls, Pa., and moved here from Pittsburgh five years ago. “You just have to ask, and they respond.”
Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley has continued to invest in the Valley since it opened Dec. 8, 2008.
The Beeghly Campus is the hub for other programs and services offered at hospital sites throughout the Valley, including pediatric subspecialists; the Community Outreach, Education and Support Center; pediatric practices in Warren and on the Beeghly campus; and a pediatric unit at East Liverpool City Hospital, said Sharon Hrina, vice president of Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley.
The hospital has expanded to include a full range of services such as primary care, hematology and oncology, and surgical and advocacy services. By by the end of 2012, Akron Children’s had 545 employees at six sites in the Mahoning Valley, Hrina said.
“As we celebrate our time in the Valley and look to a bright future ahead, we will continue to use Akron Children’s guiding principles in every decision we make: to treat each child as our own, to never turn a child away because of a family’s inability to pay, and to treat others as we’d want to be treated,” said Hrina.
“We are deeply grateful to the Mahoning Valley community for supporting us throughout the years and we look forward to caring for families here for generations to come,” she said.
Akron Children’s Hospital is ranked a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report.
Akron Children’s Beeghly Campus in Boardman is a 32-bed pediatric hospital offering a 24/7 emergency department and surgical, radiology, endocrinology, laboratory, rehabilitation and EEG/ECHO/EKG services, as well as a hematology/oncology clinic and infusion center, and child advocacy center.
Also based in the Mahoning Valley are a neonatal intensive care unit, neonatal special care nursery, community outreach and education programs, and numerous pediatric specialty practices, Hrina said.
“I remember breaking the news about our plans for the Beeghly campus, confident that we were building on a firm foundation of quality pediatric care. When we opened the doors to Mahoning Valley’s only pediatric hospital, we fulfilled our promise to bring high-quality care closer to home,” said William Considine, president and chief executive officer of Akron Children’s Hospital.