"We Are Loving One Another and the Families We Serve."

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Dr. Mandy Harris (1975-2017)

Riley is not just a hospital. It’s a community. 

Riley is a place where people come together with the primary goal of giving children and their families hope and healing. I get to work hand in hand with so many talented and caring people. Every day I am in awe of the strength and dedication of our patients and their families.

I am the Program Coordinator for the NeuroNICU program at Riley Hospital for Children―a program that just celebrated its fourth birthday. It has been an honor for many of my colleagues to give back to this program while honoring the memory of one of the doctors who developed it, Dr. Mandy Harris. 

Dr. Harris and Dr. Ulrike Mietzsch developed the NeuroNICU in 2013 to help babies who suffered from brain injury and neurological diagnoses. We take care of these children from their initial stay in the Riley Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and follow them through age three. I help coordinate care for the 500+ patients seen in our clinic, and I also serve as site coordinator for a multi-center research trial. 

When Dr. Harris passed away from diabetes complications, her loss was devastating to the Riley community. Our team decided to raise funds to establish a lectureship/endowment in her honor through Riley Children’s Foundation. As Dr. Mietzsch says, the goal is “to support the education of future generations of healthcare providers in neonatal neurocritical care, to emphasize its importance, and to inspire young physicians to develop a passion for this special field.” 

We think this is a beautiful way to honor the memory of a great doctor. Dr. Harris was able to relate to families in a unique way. She was a mom who adored her children, and she wanted to give other parents that same experience. She made herself available and she was truly present when she was working with families. She was genuine, and she valued relationships. She was honest, yet sensitive. She was an advocate for her patients, and she enabled parents to be experts of their child’s care. Dr. Harris taught me a great deal about compassion and empathy. 

Dr. Harris went above and beyond to meet the needs of families, and that is why we want to honor her work. When we give back to Riley we are building up our community. We are creating opportunity. We are sharing kindness. We are loving one another and the families we serve.

To contribute to the Dr. Mandy Harris Lectureship in Neonatal Neurology Endowment, visit donate.rileykids.org/drharris.  

Emily Strait, MSW, LSW

Emily Strait lives in Indianapolis with her husband, their two sons and their German shepherd. She graduated with a Master’s degree from the IU School of Social Work in 2012, and worked as a social worker with IU Health at University Hospital and Riley until she transitioned into the role of NeuroNICU Program Coordinator in 2016. She enjoys running, photography, eating popcorn, hugs and high fives!

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