Yesterday, we shared Part 1 of a Q&A with our new Program Director, Anna Boucher. Find it here then come on back and enjoy the second half of our conversation, hosted by HGF Communications Coordinator Abby Perry.
What's the one thing about the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (or critically ill children) that you wish everyone knew?
It’s a hard question. It’s something where I had to think of even what misconceptions looked like within the hospital setting from other professionals and from coworkers of what typical misconceptions are and what I wish even that they know but that they don’t know.
I can only imagine if we can’t grasp it as professionals in the hospital setting—how are people who don’t even understand the hospital setting because they’ve never been in it or worked in it—how they would know?
So, I think the thing that really comes to mind is that just because these patients spend so much time in the hospital doesn’t mean that they ever get used to it or that it ever gets any easier as time goes on. Each day is gonna bring its own new set of challenges. No person, no family has a cookie-cutter plan in place by their doctors or their support team or anyone.
Everyone responds and copes differently with different stressors. And what may seem like nothing or a simple problem for one person may just be the thing that tips someone else over the edge. So, I think it’s so important just to never discount the difficulty of a situation based on the seeming simplicity of it or the continuity of it.
I guess that would be the biggest thing. Just because these kids in these families live in it and it’s their life doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy. They still break down. It’s still a challenge. Every single day is gonna bring its new challenges.
What else do you hope to accomplish through your role as Program Director?
I want to collaborate with the child life specialists at TCH to make some of their dreams come true—what they would want to happen ideally for the patients and families. So, whether that’s brainstorming to find ideas and then providing the materials or just saying, “Hey, what do you need?” and being available and able to provide.
I think that’s a big thing for me because not always did I feel like people wanted to know what was needed specifically. It was more—here, this is what we can give. And then I would need to find a place to fit that. So, I think a big thing for me is figuring out the needs and meeting the needs that are already there rather than creating new needs or problems.
And then something that I know Val and I are really, really invested in is looking at expanding the programming to further develop support opportunities outside of the hospital walls. So, we don’t necessarily know exactly what that looks like right now. And I know our focus is a lot on the patients who are inside of the hospital.
But I feel like there is a very big gap for those patients outside of the hospital, many of whom are from out of town. While they’re here, they’re just here for treatment. So, I want to focus on things that we can do to not just be helpful in the moment but support them long-term by providing them with skills and things to be successful going forward.
So, those are just some things that are on the horizon, and on our minds, that we’re developing and looking at how we can do that better. And then part of this role also is just developing strong relationships with the volunteers and keeping the volunteer program strong. And that is so, so important because, genuinely, they are the backbone of everything we do. Without them, we fall apart.
Having had responsibility for volunteers in the past with child life roles, and being a volunteer myself in a hospital setting, I know the value of feeling valued from an individual point of view. So, I think anything I can do to expand the programming with volunteers to just help them feel like they’re making an eternal impact, and to not feel like they’re just doing the next thing just because it needs to be done. I want them to know that everything they’re doing has a purpose. reason, and impact, whether it’s gonna be seen directly or not, and really try to bring to light the way that they’re directly impacting patients and families.
So, I think a big part of my role is to be able to say, “Hey, this is what you did, and this is exactly, directly how it impacts these patients and families.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.