Tina Murray, a parent liaison in the recovery room or PACU (post-anesthesia care unit), credits her youngest child, Aric, with launching her career at Akron Children’s. In 1982, Aric attended an early intervention program operated by the hospital and Kent State University. The experience was so positive for Tina’s family that when Aric transitioned to kindergarten, she stayed behind to take a job in the program. As the mother of a child diagnosed with spastic quad cerebral palsy, Tina’s roles at Children’s enabled her to advocate for children with disabilities, while helping other parents going through similar journeys.
During her 31-year tenure, Tina did things she never imagined, including co-writing a book to help parents of disabled children navigate early intervention and inclusion, keynote speaking and holding a $1 million check while working for the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation. On Dec. 31 when she retires, Tina looks forward to seeing more of her husband, especially since they’ve worked opposite shifts for decades. She also plans to scrapbook and camp.
What brought you to Children’s?
I was raising my 2 children, who are 1 year apart. When Aric was 2, he started in an early intervention program that eventually became the Family Child Learning Center (FCLC) in Tallmadge. Most of my time was filled with Aric’s doctor and therapy appointments and many surgeries, which meant we had a lot of interaction with Children’s. FCLC helped Aric with school-readiness skills and provided access to technology, including a motorized miniature car so that later, he was comfortable with a power wheelchair. I really liked how Pip Campbell, FCLC’s former director, advocated for children with disabilities. When Aric “graduated,” Pip hired me as a parent coordinator.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I worked for FCLC for 6 1/2 years, but when its focus changed, I joined the Foundation as a secretary. In 1995, personal computing fundraising systems were a new trend. When Don Shook, the foundation’s vice president, found out I had worked with PCs at FCLC, he asked me to become the department’s database administrator, which I did for 16 out of the 18 years I worked in that department. I wanted to help parents again, so about 7 years ago, I became an outpatient parent liaison in PACU.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Bringing comfort to anxious parents, especially those I meet in PACU, by sharing my family’s experiences. Aric has had 44 surgeries at Children’s. When I tell parents I know what they’re going through, I truly do.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Seeing parents leave after their child’s surgery with a smile on their face.
What’s your most memorable moment at Akron Children’s?
I’ve had many. I’ll never forget watching Mr. (William) Considine (CEO Emeritus) walk through the halls, speaking to everyone by name, and if he knew your family, he asked about them by name, too. I also worked with 5 amazing moms while at FCLC to co-write “Into Our Lives,” a primer for parents of disabled preschool children. This led to speaking opportunities across the U.S. to share my family’s experiences of full inclusion and the trials and happiness of having a child with a disability.
With so many little children here, did something especially touch your heart?
Years ago, FCLC families went on a Geauga Lake outing. The park staff tried to limit how our disabled children participated in the fun. For instance, they didn’t understand our children couldn’t float on Lazy River inner tubes or sit on rides unattended. After making the staff understand our children had every right to participate, I watched the kids participate. I’ll never forget seeing their giant smiles and hearing their giggles.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Waking up early to watch the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains while sitting alongside Turquoise Lake with our 2 dogs. For the last 30 years, we’ve camped in Leadville, Colo., every year.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
There will be wonderful days and tough days. Just remember you’re blessed to be here.
What couldn’t you live without?
My faith, family and pets.
What’s on your streaming playlist?
I’ve got eclectic musical tastes, from hard rock to heavy metal to orchestras.
What’s the last movie you saw?