For the parents of a child with a serious injury or illness, the fear and uncertainty they face may be overwhelming.
“The parent mentor program is a one-on-one support system for families,” said Judy Doyle, parent advisor coordinator for Akron Children’s Hospital. “Our volunteers are specially-trained and have been through significant health conditions with their own children.”
Mentors offer parents emotional support and may help direct them to helpful resources for their short- and long-term concerns.
“They can provide insight and support at every step of the journey these families are on, sharing what they went through or are going through with their child, how it feels to deal with their situation and how best to work with the medical system,” said Doyle.
There are more than 150 parent mentors in the program. Their children have experienced hospitalizations for a range of critical and chronic injuries and illnesses, including premature birth, asthma, ADHD, cancer and developmental concerns.
Many of these mentors have also recently made themselves available to families through the program’s updated website.
“While the parent mentors have always been a big positive for both families and staff, awareness of and participation in the program is sometimes hit-or-miss depending on a family’s circumstance,” said Doyle. “By adding a personalized directory of parent mentors to our website, families will have a direct, 24/7 way to reach someone who may have been where they are going.”
The directory includes contact information, photos and brief biographies written by the parent mentors. It is also searchable by condition and the departments or service areas where a child may be receiving care.
Akron Children’s parent mentor program was founded in 1999 by Joyce Swords, whose daughter, Angie, had passed away following a 3-year battle with leukemia. Swords had also founded the hospital’s parent advisory council in 1995.
Doyle has led the program since 2001. Her son, Jack, continues to be treated at Akron Children’s for several developmental concerns.
For more information, visit akronchildrens.org/parentmentor or call 330-543-3072.