“There’s a lot of support and it’s just amazing.”
The new world of COVID-19 adds yet another layer of anxiety for families depending on specialized medical care. It’s times like this when Riley Hospital’s acclaimed culture of compassion becomes most apparent.
Last November, Alycia and Nick Iaria noticed their 22-month-old son Matthew was having balance problems. Their pediatrician sent them to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, where an MRI revealed a brain tumor. Riley’s pediatric neurosurgery team removed the tumor and over the last few months, Matthew has been receiving chemotherapy treatments that require three-week hospital stays. Safety restrictions due to COVID-19 have also limited in-person family visits. When Matthew returns home, he’s able to spend time with mom and dad, along with his 8-year-old sister Eliana and 5-year-old brother Theo. Family life is tough enough when a child is being treated for a serious condition, and now, the Iaria family also has to cope with the safety concerns connected to COVID. “Now that this has really gotten intense, we will just stay at home,” says Alycia.
More follow-up visits will be needed. Alycia says she is impressed with how doctors and the entire Riley Hospital team have handled the transition from typical in-person visits to follow-up care by phone or email. Doctors, dieticians and social workers have all contacted the family via phone while in the hospital or at home to limit exposure. “Being there in person is nice, but they’ve made it pretty seamless in making everybody readily available for us,” she says.
The Social Work team has also been assisting the family in connecting to virtual support groups, assistance programs and counseling along the way. “They have always been there to listen through all our struggles,” says Alycia.
Matthew has more treatment ahead of him at Riley Hospital. Alycia says she is impressed with how doctors, nurses and staff help her feel at home and comfortable while there. “They’re very confident in their procedures and what they’re doing in adding things each day to make sure that we are as protected as possible.” She says sometimes, comfort comes in the form of little things she didn’t realize she needed. “You receive the small gifts or things that help you get through times. There’s a lot of support and it’s just amazing. We couldn’t get through without all those little things adding up to be big things.”
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