Brittany Spence: Mom uses hospital experience to mentor families
Brittany Spence spent 55 long days at Le Bonheur Children’s with her son, Forrest. Shortly after his birth, Forrest developed complications from Group B Strep and was transferred to Le Bonheur’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The Spences spent the rest of Forrest’s short life there.
“There isn’t a chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting that says what to do when a doctor says your child may not make it,” Brittany said. And so, she decided to do something about it.
Brittany is a founding member of Le Bonheur’s Parent Mentor program and now shares what she learned during Forrest’s stay with other parents in the hospital. The program dispatches veteran parent volunteers to make weekly visits to units within the hospital. Each mentor partners with a staff liaison who knows the specific family needs in the unit.
Mentors receive formal training based on curriculum from the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care and shadow experienced mentors before meeting families on their own.
When Brittany visits mothers she tells them that she knows the “rollercoaster” they are on and offers suggestions that made her hospital stay a little more bearable. She asks about siblings at home and encourages parents to make the best of their new home.
“I tell them, ‘This is your nursery now. Bring blankets, loveys and music from home,’” she said. “It gets very lonely up here sometimes. It’s nice to have someone who understands the journey you’re on.”