One in a Million - Why I Give Back
Kristin Wikel manages the School Program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. She and her staff provide normalcy during hospitalization for school-age children and help to ensure a smooth transition back to school. As The Gift of Hope Happens Here holiday season giving campaign continues, Kristin shares why she is so passionate about giving back to the hospital where she works.
Q: Tell us about your role at Riley, and what drew you to this type of work.
A: My father immigrated to the United States when he was 3 years old. He always said, “Education is something that no one can ever take away from you.” I learned about hospital-based educators when I was completing a class for my master’s degree in education and was placed in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit at Riley. I was blown away by the staff’s dedication to help patients transition back to school after an illness or injury. I began working at Riley in 2003 and became the School Program manager in 2011. I also provide school services for teen parents in the NICU and patients in the Speedway Burn Center.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your work?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is transitioning patients from the hospital to school. Early in my career a nursing director told me, “At Riley we can do amazing things to make our patients better, but until we have placed that patient back in his/her school seat, we have not done our job.”
Q: Why have you chosen to participate in employee giving? What motivates you to give back in this way?
A: Riley Hospital is one in a million. The Riley School Program provides educational services to patients at no cost. We have been part of the hospital since it opened its doors, and I want this program to be part of the hospital forever. In order to continue to provide excellent services, we need donors to continue to support us. Being part of the employee giving program is my way to give back to a program that I believe in so strongly.
Q: What is your message for members of the public who donate to Riley? How do their gifts make an impact?
A: Every gift makes a positive difference in a patient’s life. I see that whenever I get a “high-five” from an excited child who got a math problem correct. Riley’s teachers walk with families through every step of their child’s hospitalization and transition back to school to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly.
Q: How would you describe Riley Hospital to someone who has never visited?
A: One word: amazing. My middle child, Jack, was transferred to Riley two days after he was born. (He likes to say, “Once a Riley kid, always a Riley kid.”) Nurses held my hand countless times when I cried. The staff’s passion shines through in all that they do.
Q: Any fun facts you’d like to share about yourself or your family?
A: My husband, Josh, is a nurse at Saint Francis Hospital. We are proud parents of Noah (13), Jack (10) and Ella Rose (6). All of our children are very involved with extracurricular activities. We live in Greenwood, Ind. In my spare time I love to run and lift weights.
Riley Hospital staff members and the public are invited to give through The Gift of Hope Happens Here holiday season giving campaign. Click here to donate. Gifts are being matched by French Lick Resort (up to $200,000) through December 31.
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