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Clinical Center News
Summer 2022

Hospital unveils "Wellness on Wheels"

Cart provides support for pediatric patients and their families

Staff and patient at the unveiling of the Wellness on Wheels cart
Wellness on Wheels provides snacks, blankets and other comfort items to families who are caring for a child with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Pictured (left to right) Dr. James Gilman, Clinical Center CEO, Dr. Lori Wiener, Co-Director of Behavioral Health Core and Director of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program for the National Cancer Institute’s Pediatric Oncology Branch, pediatric patient Luciano Javier Perez Vela, Dr. Victoria Sardi-Brown, Co-Founder and President of the Mattie Miracle Foundation and Peter J. Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation.

Last year, the average hospital stay at the NIH Clinical Center was 9.4 days. No matter how well prepared you are, that's a long time to be away from the comforts of home. Now the hospital has a partner who wants to bring a little extra support to pediatric patients and their families while they receive treatment.

At the beginning of May, the Clinical Center and the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation unveiled a "Wellness on Wheels" cart at the hospital. The cart provides snacks, blankets and other comfort items to families who are caring for a child with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Currently there are around 1,600 clinical research studies in progress at the NIH Clinical Center. Of those research protocols, 35% include children and 14 NIH Institutes admit children as a part of their research and treatment. In 2021, pediatric patients accounted for about 10% of the Clinical Center's patient activity.

The Wellness on Wheels was revealed at a special ceremony in the hospital's seventh floor atrium. Luciano Javier Perez Vela, a pediatric patient being cared for by the Clinical Center Pediatric Service, was the guest of honor who unveiled the cart for the gathered staff and guests. He quickly went to explore what the cart had to offer and pulled out some items he thought would comfort his mother.

"We have launched significant research and operational changes to strengthen and expand our ability to care for pediatric patients," said Dr. James Gilman, CEO of the Clinical Center, to the assembled crowd.

"Whereas our mission is to conduct the research necessary to improve human health, we understand that feeling cared for counts. It counts tremendously. Patients often come to the CC when they have no other options. We will not add to their burden by failing to assist them in every way possible," added Gilman.

Wellness on Wheels joins other carts supported by the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and Children's Hospital Sinai in Baltimore.

- Donovan Kuehn

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