For information regarding 2016 active programs please call the CJCF Camp Office at 410-531-0758
It's an amazing sight: kids receiving their daily medications at camp. Sometimes it's simple -- like swallowing a few pills in a spoonful of applesauce. Sometimes it's not -- like flushing a Broviac catheter and taking IV medications.
Knowing that medical support was going to be crucial, founder Bev Gough went to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's top pediatric hospitals, for advice on how to set up the health center and arrange for medical coverage. There she met with Dr. Gregory Reaman, Medical Speciality Services and Chairman, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital, and current Chair of the Children's Oncology Group (COG). "I feel very strongly that children with cancer deserve strong advocates and certainly deserve special programs," says Reaman.
During their early meetings and as the relationship developed, Reaman offered to provide whatever help and assistance he could. "We were able to provide a nursing consultant early on . . . and I offered to serve as medical director," says Reaman "We provided recommendations as far as special requirements for equipment, facilities and programs." Since the foundation's inception, Children's Hospital has provided, free of charge, medical direction and supervision, including on-site nursing care and a doctor at camp, as well as medical equipment and supplies.
For the most part, the camp's medical personnel are made up of staff from Children's Hospital. Medical personnel from Sinai Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland, also are a significant presence. "There's a physician on site every day and on call in the evenings. There are several pediatric oncology nurses that are there night and day through the week," says Dr. Brian R. Rood, M.D., Camp Friendship's Medical Director and Director of Clinical Neuro-Oncology, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Oncology, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Children's National Medical Center
Camp Friendship's medical personnel have cared for children who are newly diagnosed with cancer, in relapse state and even those who are terminally ill. "It's unusual for us to turn down a patient," says Rood. "Even if a patient is very sick, they are able to go to camp and that means the world to them. It provides them with a wonderful opportunity and it has a tremendous impact on their outlook."
When they come to camp, the doctors and nurses trade in their white lab coats and hospital scrubs for hiking shorts and sneakers. "As a medical person, sometimes all you feel you do is inflict pain. To watch a lot of kids die is hard. But then to go to camp and see the kids running around and playing and see the looks on their faces -- it makes it all worthwhile. It's what keeps us going," says Debbie Lafond (R.N., Camp Friendship's Nursing Liaison to Children's Hospital, and Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Oncology Department, Children's Hospital).
The camp's health center is equipped to handle everything from bug bites and skinned knees to chemotherapy and IV antibiotics.
Several weeks prior to each session of camp, says Lafond, the two on-site nurses for that week carefully review each child's application. If they have questions, they call the child's doctor or nurse. The nurses arrive at camp a day early to again review all of the children's medical forms as well as the health center's medications and equipment list. When the kids check in and talk with the nurses and doctor about their medical status.
The other thing the nurses try to do, Lafond says, is to fit medications around each child's schedule. By taking the medications to the kids, they can have more time with the other kids doing the various activities and spend as little time in the health center as possible --so long as it doesn't endanger them. "We don't spend a lot of time in the health center. Instead we're out there with the kids. We're out there because we are committed to these kids.
For more information contact Beverly Gough at 410-531-0758 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.