At Shriners Hospitals for Children—Cincinnati, the health and safety of our patients, families, volunteers and staff is our top priority. With the rapidly evolving situation regarding coronavirus (COVID-19,) we are closely monitoring local health departments and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) and are actively following their recommendations.

We are working diligently to reschedule appointments postponed during the quarantine. We also understand you may feel some anxiety about bringing your child into the hospital. Our plans to restart routine care have been thoughtfully developed and implemented to keep everyone safe. We are also scheduling some appointments for new patients. If you have any questions, please call the hospital at 855-206-2096.

Families that have appointments of any kind are asked to arrive with ONLY ONE parent or guardian and no additional family members or guests.

When you arrive for your appointment, if you and your child are not already wearing a mask, you will receive one. You will both be screened for illness and will notice new safety precautions in place to promote clean hands, a clean environment, and social distancing.

We are here for you, and look forward to seeing you soon.

Frankie’s Story

Frankie and his father

Frankie and his fatherThe world today is different because of the COVID-19 pandemic; very little is untouched by the ripple effect of the virus. Beyond the devastating impact on those stricken and their caretakers, COVID has made nearly every aspect of life more difficult. It seems almost impossible that something positive could come from such global negativity. Sometimes though, finding “the good” simply requires a shift in one’s point of view. The caring staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Cincinnati found it with a boy named Francis.

“Frankie,” as he is known by staff, is from Nigeria. He was born with a severe cleft palate, affecting his ability to speak, eat and even breathe. Frankie came to the attention of Save a Child-International, a non-profit organization founded by a group of Nigerian doctors in Atlanta, Georgia. The group’s goal is to enable some of Africa’s poor children to gain access to quality health care in the United States. One of the doctors attended a seminar presented by Debbie Harrell MSN, RN, NE-BC, director of professional relations at Cincinnati Shriners, where he learned of the hospital’s exceptional skill in the treatment of cleft lip and palate, and its mission of caring for children regardless of a family’s ability to pay. In the fall of 2019, his organization arranged for Frankie and his father to travel to Cincinnati.

During their stay, the two lived in one of the hospital’s “family care units,” the motel-like rooms within the hospital. Frankie became the patient of Dr. Christopher Gordon, M.D., FACS FAAP, a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in craniofacial disorders such as cleft lip and palate. “Frankie’s cleft palate was one of the most severe I have ever seen,” Dr. Gordon said.

Plans were for the father and son to remain at the hospital for six months, the longest a travel visa would permit. Everyone wanted to make sure Frankie could benefit from as much care as possible before returning to Nigeria. During that period, Frankie had three successful surgeries to repair his palate. Now it was time to go home.

Unfortunately, at the same time, COVID-19 was rapidly spreading across the globe. International travel came to a screeching halt, and Frankie and his father had to stay in the U.S.

Luckily, they were at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, so there was never a worry about where to stay or how to survive during this period of uncertainty. Frankie and his father could remain guests of the hospital until the travel ban lifted.

The unexpected upshot was that now Frankie had the time to receive speech therapy – a luxury not possible except for the pandemic delay. He worked regularly with Cincinnati Shriners’ occupational and physical therapy department, improving the skills his disorder had prevented for most of his life.

Even the darkest days can offer a moment of light. In Frankie’s case, the COVID travel ban allowed him remain at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital and fully benefit from its many life-changing services before returning home.

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