It can start as a cry at a higher than normal pitch, a raging fever that won’t come down, bruises that appear for no reason. A parent, consumed with worry seeks out help. The Pediatrician makes a preliminary evaluation and orders more tests.
Then the moment arrives…words, delivered with professionalism and care from the doctor; everything has changed for the family and the child with the difficult diagnosis. Suddenly, a life filled with dreams of family camping trips, birthday parties and sleepovers has changed into something unexpected.
For nearly 300 families in Nevada County, these experiences are part of their story. But that’s only the beginning. A new reality sets in—one that involves long drives to special care units at UC Davis, San Francisco or Stanford and physician specialists, dieticians, nutritionists, social workers and rounds of medication.
Maryellen Beauchamp has a special connection with these families. She is Nevada County’s Public Health Nurse Case Manager for California Children’s Services. California Children’s Services is operated by the State of California. Over 80 years old, it has an office in every county. Maryellen acts as the conductor in an orchestra that encompasses multi-faceted medical assistance for children with severe health issues. These issues can range from growth plate or skull fractures, endocrine, neurological, orthopedic, and metabolic disorders to Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy
This type of work comes with a heavy weight and knowledge that is often difficult to leave behind at the end of the day. On her desk, Maryellen keeps several inspirational quotes that remind her to remain grounded. One of them reads; Today, I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive; I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. -H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama
Maryellen recently had the opportunity incorporate something important into her program—a sense of positive empowerment for her young clients. It came in the form of a beautifully illustrated book, Toby Bear and the Healing Light. It is the story of a stuffed bear who teaches a sick child the power of affirmations, meditation and visualizations in the healing process.
Toby Bear and the Healing Light was created by author, Lisa Boulton while undergoing cancer treatments, as a gentle way to help children going through difficult illness. Boulton enlisted photographer and artist Lisa Redfern to create the photo-illustrations. “I wanted the story to feature local people, places and businesses as a way to express my love for our community and for the outpouring of support and caring that I received when I was sick,” says Boulton.
Maryellen says, “I like that the story features Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital—the place where the journey with Children’s Services begins for many of our families. It is also a plus that the County could partner with the local women who created the book.”
As Maryellen puts it, “You can’t get well with doctors and medicines alone…it takes the right attitude to make it all work.” She’s excited about the books because she plans to give them as gifts to the age appropriate children in her program. “It is a positive message and gift from Nevada County Health to the children (and their families) who need it most.”