Local family honors nurse and therapist who helped their daughter recover from a spinal tumor

September 19, 2017

O’Connor, a respected member of Children’s Specialized’s staff for almost 15 years, is instrumental in teaching nurses how to care for patients with spinal cord injuries. Her compassion and dedication is evident as she provides support to patients and their family and helps foster the importance of self-care throughout the rehabilitation process.

Duddy, a senior occupational therapist on the spinal cord rehabilitation team at Children’s Specialized Hospital, is constantly utilizing innovative strategies and techniques to help her patients reach their full potential.  She goes above and beyond to assist patients and families with the necessary skills to ensure a smooth transition back into their home and community while incorporating the family’s needs and desires into the child’s plan of care. In doing so, she inspires her patients to lead inspiring, fearless, independent lives.

“I can’t think of any two people more deserving than Michele and Danielle to be the first recipients of this award.” said Bonnie Altieri, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, Children’s Specialized Hospital. “An award like this in general is a great honor, but having it come from a former patient makes it that much more special.”

The Ground Forces Award recognizes individual therapists and/or nurses who truly go above and beyond to help patients rehabilitate from their spinal cord injury. “Without the nurses, therapists and staff at hospitals, Izzy and so many other children like her, would not be able to reach their physical goals,” said Sonia Rita, president of Izzy’s Infantry. “We want to recognize those who are truly the "boots on the ground" working directly with kids like Izzy.”

Izzy’s Infantry Fighting Pediatric Cancer and Spinal Cord Trauma was founded in 2016 after Isabel “Izzy” Rita completed her last round of chemotherapy. Izzy was diagnosed with a tumor wrapped around her spine just one week after her first birthday in 2014. After 42 rounds of chemotherapy, Izzy has been receiving outpatient therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital to improve her strength and mobility to ensure she continues to reach key milestones.

For more information about Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, please visit www.childrens-specialized.org/spinal-cord-prorgam.

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At thirteen different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and effective...so children can achieve more of their goals.  To help, or find more information: call 888-CHILDRENS; visit www.childrens-specialized.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/childrensspecialized; Twitter: www.twitter.com/childrensspecnj; YouTube: www.youtube.com/cshnj; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/children's-specialized-hospital

Izzy’s Infantry is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting to help families in their battles against childhood cancer. Their mission is three-fold: fund research that will lead to better treatment options and a cure for childhood cancer; fund rehabilitation programs for children recovering from a spinal cord injury; help improve the quality of life for children in treatment and their families through outreach programs and support groups. They have partnered with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to co-fund a research grant for high-grade gliomas and have partnered with Children’s Specialized Hospital to develop the Izzy’s Warriors Fund, which helps patients meet the gap between insurance coverage and the cost of mobility devices essential in helping children in their battle against traumatic spinal cord injury.