Generous Donors Answer the Call

Timing is everything.

When Shannon and Bill Willhite learned that Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital needed to upgrade its nurse call light system to better care for the growing number of children at the hospital, they answered the call. The long-time Ranken Jordan volunteers and board members generously donated the funds necessary for a more sophisticated nurse call light system, which was installed in fall 2020.

“In all we do, our first priority is to keep our patients with complex conditions safe,” says Nick Holekamp, MD, chief medical officer and vice president of Ranken Jordan. “The Willhites recognize that and have always supported our mission. We’re so grateful for their generosity and partnership that is allowing us to increase safety and quality measures to better care for our patients.”

Tracking Trends for Better Care

Another benefit of the new nurse call light system is that it allows the hospital to collect and collate data on the number of alarms, types and responses to address dips in responses or an uptick in the type of calls patients have.

“We can track and notice trends in call lights,” LaRose explains. “It gives us a bigger picture of what’s going on in the unit. We can even narrow it down to see how a child is doing at different times of the day to see when and why their alarms go off. This ultimately improves their care.”

LaRose says a snapshot of one unit showed nurses answered 597 calls over a twenty-four hour period. “Our nurses answered these calls within an average of 16 seconds, which is extraordinary considering other hospitals typically average a minute or more to respond.”

Helping Kids Stay Safely Independent

Dr. Holekamp says the new call system complements Ranken Jordan’s unique Care Beyond the Bedside model for maximum safety.

“This upgraded call light system lets us integrate very high-intensity medical management elements, such as ventilators, with our out-and-about care model that gets kids better faster and allows kids to be more independent,” he says. “That’s the crux to our medical model at Ranken Jordan.”

Children–especially teens—at Ranken Jordan strive for independence as a natural part of development. The additional features on the call light system support their ability to be independent while being safely monitored, Dr. Holekamp explains.

“We encourage kids to be independent and want them to comfortably have some alone time in their rooms. Yet many of our patients are also dependent on a high degree of medical technology such as ventilators, feeding pumps and bed alarms. When these patients are in their rooms alone, there are risks. The enhanced nurse call light system mitigates the risk by ensuring prompt responses for an extra level of safety.”

He says patients and families find comfort in how quickly the team responds to the call lights. “They know we’re immediately available if needed. This new call light system decreases the risk for kids on life support who are in rooms by themselves and takes the weight of worry off our whole team. The Willhite’s gift is a perfect example of how donors can make a significant difference.”

Donor generosity also allows Ranken Jordan to give children the “extras”—not always covered by insurance—that create normalcy. This is especially important since many children have extended stays at Ranken Jordan.

Dr. Holekamp says the unique Care Beyond the Bedside model provides additional care and activities not seen in typical hospitals where stays are shorter.

“Our patients spend 70% of their time outside their rooms, whether they are going to therapy, cooking, socializing, doing a golf activity outside or even fishing. This extra effort to help kids feel like kids wouldn’t be possible without our donors. These extras are critical and allow kids to use the healing power within themselves to get better.”

Maintaining a Higher Standard of Care

The updated nurse call light system is now connected to additional emergency pull cords placed around Ranken Jordan. If an issue arises with a patient, nurses can see where the alarm is coming from on their work station screen so they can respond immediately.

This safety net encourages patients and families to confidently enjoy more spaces around Ranken Jordan such as the Owner’s Suite, an area with a wall of windows that overlooks the accessible ball field.

“We hold ourselves to a higher standard because it takes extra effort to keep medically complex children safe while still allowing them to move around the facility instead of keeping them in a room,” Dr. Holekamp says.

Dr. Holekamp and LaRose agree that the upgraded nurse call light system is a vital part of Ranken Jordan’s vision to improve the standard of care for children with complex medical conditions.

“At Ranken Jordan, we always strive to do better and raise the bar higher,” LaRose says. “Our goal is to continue to be pioneers and set the standards of care for kids with complex medical conditions. This new call light system is a giant step in helping us invest in evidence-based, data-driven practices to get kids home sooner. And donors like the Willhites are a huge part of what makes Ranken Jordan successful in doing that.”

Changing Course Amidst the Pandemic

Timing is everything, and in 2020 timing the celebration of very generous gifts such as Shannon’s and Bill’s was challenging.

“We set about the calendar year excited for June, when we planned to host the inaugural in-person event celebrating Lewis Wilkins Hyer Society benefactors,” says Steve Lindee, chief development officer of Ranken Jordan. “These are the extraordinary members of the community who contribute more than $10,000 to support our mission.”

Like so many, Ranken Jordan ceased holding large fundraising gatherings in March 2020. But the primacy of showing gratitude remained constant, Lindee explains.

“While we were trying to sort through the many ways we could stay engaged with our supporters, we came on the idea of selecting one story that would illustrate the impact a ‘Hyer’ level gift could make. The Willhites’ gift made sense, though they are the first to say they are not alone in supporting our mission so generously.”

In fact, last year 32 community members supported Ranken Jordan at the Hyer Society level. Ranken Jordan is humbled and grateful for the generous support of these donors, the leaders in philanthropy for kids with medical complexities.