A Holiday Story
A Marin Family Remains Grateful One Year After Urgent Trip to CPMC's Pediatric ED
By Lily Tung Crystal
When Catherine O’Neal arrived at California Pacific Medical Center on Christmas Eve, neither she nor her family realized how ill she was. She had been sick for a week with flulike symptoms, when her pain suddenly skyrocketed at a friend’s holiday gathering. Her parents Jim and Moira O’Neal, younger brother John and her grandmother Diane Perry brought her straight to the pediatric emergency room. It wasn’t until then that they learned that Catherine’s appendix had ruptured. Doctors immediately began draining her infection, getting her started on her long road to recovery.
“Even though it was Christmas, all the surgical nurses and doctors came in just to take care of her,” recalls Moira. “It was the beginning of what we would say over and over again — they have amazing people at CPMC.”
Two Hospitals, One Team
Catherine was one of the first patients to benefit from CPMC’s new collaboration with physicians from Packard Children’s. Doctors, from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, a world-renowned academic medical center that is annually ranked as one of the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by US News & World Report, and doctors from CPMC are working side by side at CPMC’s California Campus. This collaboration ensures that children have access to highly specialized pediatric specialty care close to home.
“We had six people caring for us, so we never felt alone,” says Moira, as she relives the emotion surrounding Catherine’s first drain procedure. “She was crying; I was crying, and I told her, ‘What’s helping me be brave is the doctors. They said that we’re going to be fine.’ The people at CPMC were there to hold our hands and hold us up. Like family, they opened their hearts to us.”
Family-Centered Patient Care
Over the next 23 days, Catherine would call CPMC home. “With access to the tremendous staff there, and the added benefit of Packard Children’s amazing resources, we felt like there was no way we were not going to get the best care possible,” Moira explains. “The doctors were incredibly approachable and empowered Catherine to take part in the planning of her own care. If we had a question, there was someone to ask. They understood that they were taking care of more than just a condition. They were taking care of a person, and a family.”
“Through CPMC’s collaboration with Packard Children’s, we can follow these families before and after surgery and provide a continuity of care,” explains Claudia Mueller, Ph.D., M.D., who performed Catherine’s appendectomy. “We have a team that’s here 24/7 with a surgical service that not only has a lead surgeon but also includes a dedicated nurse practitioner. Whether cases are inpatient, outpatient, routine or complex, families have a home here.
A Happy Healthy 2012 Holiday
It’s been nearly a year since Catherine’s hospitalization, and she has returned to doing all of her favorite things—history, science, ballet, riding her bike to and from school, and playing flute. Literally back on her toes, Catherine is excited to have been selected to dance in Marin Ballet’s 2012 Nutcracker. Even though Catherine has put her hospitalization behind her, she is still grateful to the caregivers who helped her overcome what could have been a devastating event in her life. “I really got love from the doctors and nurses at CPMC,” she says.
“We walked out with nothing but gratitude,” adds Moira. “And if we ever have to go back, we would feel like we were going to people who care about us, and we would know that we were going to be okay.”
For more information about CPMC’s pediatric services, visit cpmc.org/pediatrics.