Guest blog entry from Erica Colón and her daughter Ava

Ava was born with a heart defect at the Tacoma General Hospital and sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital within a week of being born. As a first-time mom, this was very overwhelming!

The Tacoma medical team said Children’s was the best place to take care of her heart. She came by ambulance. My husband Dan and I soon learned that she would need a heart transplant.

We’re waiting for that right heart to come along… We’re hoping every day that we’ll get a call.

Over the last four months we’ve had good days and bad. We watch her progress and hope to see what happens with a heart transplant. If you look at Ava, you know she is growing and changing. She smiles and has become more and more playful. We love her so much!

To pass the time, we’ve had fun with the Where’s Waldo? contest here at the hospital. We have one of the best views of the construction site from our room. Finding Waldo is like a breath of fresh air during the day – something to look forward to. Other patients on the floor come to our room to look for Waldo and visit. We look out every day.

On the personal side, our friends and family are really supportive. We couldn’t make it without them. We also have what we call Team Ava – made up of our doctors, nurses, dieticians, child life specialists, rounding team members and more. They don’t just look at her as a patient. They take time to really get to know Ava and show they care. Our nurse, Anna, is a true advocate for Ava and always knows how to make her comfortable.

We’ve learned a lot from this team – my husband and I joke that we know too much about heart defect problems now. It’s fun that both our family and the team enjoy trying to find Waldo. It helps make the day go by.

Meet Anna Mondau, ICU nurse

The stress of working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is really high. As caregivers, we never slow down. Finding Waldo gives us a minute out of our day where we can focus on something else – something happy.

It’s something we all talk about… it has meant a lot to us. We love Waldo!

We made a ‘thank you’ sign from the whole ICU and hung it in Ava’s window. I think this game is good for the children, families and staff…

Ava’s room has the best view of the entire construction site. We look forward to hospital rounds when the whole rounding team pops by to check on Ava. They also look out to search for Waldo when they are here. It’s fun for Ava as she loves visitors!

Meet Wendy Nicon, child life specialist

We heard from families, including the Colón family, who shared they enjoyed finding Waldo so much. We decided if there is any way to hang a thank you sign from their room we’d do it. We asked the team from the Child Life area to help us put a 10-foot sign together. We’ve heard you can see this from as far as the edge of the hospital campus on Sand Point Way!

I’ve been a child life specialist in the ICU for three years and at Children’s for 10 years.

The main part of my job is to promote normal growth and development. Incorporating  Waldo into our routine is an excellent part of that. We encourage kids and parents to do things that bring a sense of normalcy into the medical setting. We want to provide not just the medical care but the whole concept of family-centered care.

I think Ava is doing great. She is learning to smile and respond to people around her as a newborn. She is sitting up at times and reaching for things. She is obviously very curious and responsive.

The kids have needs beyond distinct medical needs – and need to reach developmental milestones.

The Where’s Waldo? game has added visitors and interaction to our days. It’s great.