October 7, 2008

Vital Community Program Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- It started as a pilot project to help transport a few patients and families. Now, 6000 rides later, the Care-a-Van for Kids department at Packard Children's Hospital is celebrating the success of 10 years of continuous community service to families who need transportation to hospital appointments.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/AQTU563)

Providing free rides to families is a challenge, but a happy one. "We work hard to find drivers and synchronize schedules so that no family is left out," said Erin Champion, department manager of Care-A-Van. Champion and her staff work like air traffic controllers, albeit on the ground, to match volunteer drivers and vans with families in need throughout six Bay Area counties. "It's extraordinarily rewarding work," added Champion, whose #1 challenge is finding a steady influx of volunteer drivers for the program's seven vans. "Over 90% of family requests are met, which is amazing," said Champion. "But our goal is 100%. To make that happen, we need more drivers."

The 30 drivers, from firefighters to retirees, are passionate about the program. "Donating a few hours of my time to bring a sick child to the hospital means more than you can imagine," said volunteer driver Dave Calleri, who has been with the program since the beginning. Champion calls the service and its drivers heroic. "Without this program," said Champion, "many children would not receive the medical care they need."

That care can be life-saving. "Our only way to get my daughter to Packard was to take the bus," said Cecilia Nodal, mother of a 4-year-old kidney recipient who needs regular appointments in the hospital's renal clinic. "But the bus is dangerous to Stacy's health, as her immune system is very weak. Thankfully, Care-A-Van is available. I don't know what we'd do without it."

Nodal is one of 3,300 patient families who have racked up over 400,000 miles in the last 10 years. The volunteer drivers? Over 12,500 hours of service. Impressive stats, but even more so when you consider the constant juggling. "There are a lot of moving parts to Care-A-Van," said Champion, whose team masterminds a very fluid process. "Schedules change, appointments change, drivers change, you name it. It's a phenomenal amount of coordination. But we're thrilled to do it. The families need us, and we're proud to help them."

Sounds like she's ready for another 10 years.

If you or someone you know would like to become a Care-A-Van volunteer driver, please contact Program Manager Erin Champion at (650) 498-2569.

About Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Ranked as one of the nation's top pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is a 272-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services and associated with the Stanford University School of Medicine, Packard Children's offers patients locally, regionally and nationally the full range of health care programs and services, from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, visit http://www.lpch.org/.

    Contact    Todd Kleinheinz    Lucile Packard Children's Hospital    650-725-9666    [email protected]  

Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/AQTU563PRN Photo Desk, [email protected]

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

CONTACT: Todd Kleinheinz of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital,+1-650-725-9666, [email protected]

Web site: http://www.lpch.org/