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Putting Parents at Ease when Serving Campers with High Medical Needs

Lauren at Camp

Lauren’s parents Mike and Pam Morrison were hesitant to send their daughter to Camp Sunnyside because of her high medical needs. Lauren experiences 15-20 seizures a month and has a strict seizure protocol that requires someone to sleep with her during the night, in case she has a seizure. This means she must share a bed with one of her parents every night for her safety.

The Morrison’s other daughter Ashley was working as a direct support professional at Easter Seals Iowa in the respite program, and encouraged her parents to give Camp a try, saying she was comfortable and confident in the care Lauren would receive at Easter Seals Iowa.  Realizing the benefits of Camp for their family and for Lauren, her parents decided to send Lauren to camp for a week. 

Mike and Pam were impressed from the get-go when they checked in Lauren and interacted with the nursing staff at Camp. “The nurse really listened to us to understood Lauren’s needs. There was never any interruption during our explanation, rather the nurse listened, wrote down and repeated what we were trying to explain. That made us feel very confident the staff was going to understand,” Mike said.

Once at Camp, Lauren’s parent say she had a blast riding in the boat, doing arts and crafts and interacting with the other campers and counselors.  “It was a good experience for her and we knew she was safe.  The staff treated Lauren with such respect and were professional. We were so impressed,” Mike said.

RN Patty Gilmore said Lauren was a complete joy to have at Camp. 

“She’s funny, she loves jokes, she’s smart and smiles all of the time,” Patty says. “She gets your heart when she has her seizures because they are intense; it’s hard on her and it’s very emotional. We are pleased to be able to meet her significant needs.”

Mike and Pam enjoyed the week too, saying they had time to re-charge.

“Even with her chronic health problems, we’ve cared for Lauren in our home since she was born. It can be draining physically and emotionally. Her week at Camp gave us time to regather ourselves and put ourselves back into a fresh frame of mind, so we could function at a level that is helpful for Lauren upon her return,” Mike said.

Patty says the break for the parents can be just as important as the experience of camp. “I am so glad we could provide the parents that break that they needed. We loved having Lauren here and can’t wait to see her again. She was a fantastic addition to our Camp.”

Now Lauren is applying to enjoy Camp during the year-round respite weekends and hopes to attend even more summer camp sessions next year.

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