When my 19-year-old son, Matt, was five, he was diagnosed with an osteochondroma. The word is terribly frightening, but fortunately, his is a benign tumor. The location of the tumor is on the growth plate of his knee which complicates any surgical options while he is still growing. On rare occasions these tumors can become malignant so we have been seeing Dr. Al Gilpin every six months for 14 years for x-rays and MRIs to ensure that the tumor is not growing.
What a blessing to our family that we have this very specialized care in our home town. It means so much that we do not have the complications of traveling hours away to seek the care Matt needs.
When counting blessings, I want to share with you another gift my family receives as a result of the time we spend at Dr. Gilpin’s office.
The waiting room is always full, with children and families who depend on McLeod Children’s Hospital. They face much greater challenges and struggles than we do. There are many critical childhood illnesses and injuries that families of our region live with every day.
These experiences bless me and every member of my family with a shared compassion for these brave patients and their steadfast caregivers.
In addition to our own experience, now we truly appreciate the critical importance of local care for these children. It is discouraging to think that these dedicated families, who are already in such a stressful situation, would have to deal with issues like taking time off from work, arranging childcare, the expenses of travel and the physical exhaustion of being in unfamiliar surroundings.
This knowledge has motivated us to get involved and offer our personal support to help in this work.
As you consider your family’s blessings, I ask you to join us today. Your gift will help ensure these children can grow up with the best healthcare close to their home. You will be a blessing to them and their families.
Thank you for caring.
Laura M. Marechal
Ecstatic to learn that they were expecting their third child, Michael and Brandi Rogers of Effingham, South Carolina, began to prepare for life as a family of five.
Just eleven weeks into the pregnancy, however, Michael and Brandi’s joy quickly turned to concern when an ultrasound revealed fluid on their unborn daughter’s brain. Further testing led to a devastating diagnosis -- anencephaly, a rare and fatal birth defect which prevents an infant’s brain and skull from developing properly.
Anencephaly affects approximately one in 1,000 pregnancies, and the National Institutes of Health estimates that one in 10,000 infants in the United States is born with the condition. Almost all infants with anencephaly pass away before birth or shortly after.
Heartbroken over their daughter’s diagnosis, Michael and Brandi researched the condition to determine their options. Brandi also joined social media groups formed by mothers of infants with anencephaly to learn about their birthing experiences. Ultimately, she and Michael decided to carry their daughter to full term.
Several weeks later, a mutual friend introduced Brandi to Teresa Bennett-Yates and Robin Hicken, mothers of stillborn infants who founded Meagan and Austin’s Continued Journey, a non-profit dedicated to providing CuddleCots to hospitals in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Significantly impacting the infant bereavement process, the CuddleCot™ system cools and preserves a baby’s body, allowing families precious time to bond and make memories. Used most often with a Moses basket, the system can also be used in a bassinet, crib, or bed.
“In most cases involving infant loss, grieving parents have only minutes with their baby,” says Brandi. “However, the CuddleCot allows parents and family members to have as much time with their baby as possible.”
On August 23, 2017, at 9:52 a.m., Brandi gave birth to Emersyn Lynn Rogers.
“The nurse immediately placed Emersyn on my chest, where she stayed for the next 71 minutes of her life,” recalls Brandi. “She passed away at 11:03 a.m.”
With the help of the CuddleCot system, the Rogers family were able to extend their intimate and precious time with Emersyn for a little longer after she passed.
“We snuggled with her, slept with her, hugged her, memorized every beautiful feature – things most of us do not think we need until we realize this is the only time we will ever have with our baby,” says Brandi. “We captured family photos and videos that we will cherish forever, and our greatest joy in this experience was being able to see our daughter live.”
Michael and Brandi wanted to give this gift of time to other parents, so they partnered with the founders of Meagan and Austin’s Continued Journey. Together, they raised more than $6,000 to purchase two CuddleCot™ systems for McLeod Regional Medical Center in memory of Emersyn, which they presented to the organization on November 17, 2017.
“We could not imagine our birthing experience without the CuddleCot, and we want to ensure that other grieving parents have the opportunity to make forever memories with their baby,” added Brandi.
Marvin Owen, President of ACS Technologies in Florence, and his wife Beth Ann are longtime donors of the McLeod Health Foundation. Marvin is also extremely generous with the time he devotes to the Foundation, serving as both Treasurer of the McLeod Foundation Board and Chair of the Finance Committee.
Marvin’s connection to children’s healthcare began long before his association with the McLeod Health Foundation. Inspired by his father Dr. James Owen, a McLeod OB-GYN, Marvin planned on becoming a physician himself -- until his freshman year of college when he shadowed his father and observed him in action.
“I watched my father perform one C-section operation and quickly changed my major to Computer Science,” Marvin reflected with a laugh. Fortunately, this experience did not extinguish Marvin’s passion for children’s healthcare. Today, Marvin works tirelessly to ensure that his community has the best children’s hospital possible.
“As an employer of 400 people, I see their children and watch childhood medical issues come up,” explained Marvin. “I also have four children and six grandchildren of my own.”
One of these grandchildren, Jack, had to undergo open heart surgery at just three months of age.
“I learned firsthand how important Children’s Hospitals are,” said Marvin. “Jack is now eight-years-old, and doing great.”
One of Marvin’s main contributions to the Children’s Hospital is his yearly involvement in the McLeod Children’s Hospital Golf Classic. Marvin’s company, ACS Technologies, has been a sponsor of the tournament for five years, and Marvin serves on the tournament’s planning committee, working to bring in additional sponsors from the business community.
“The Golf Classic is the premier golf outing in Florence, and all funds raised go directly to helping McLeod Children’s Hospital,” Marvin explained. “It’s a rewarding effort.”
The most recent Foundation-funded addition to the Children’s Hospital is a new treatment room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Having a treatment room in the PICU – where children can have blood drawn, IVs inserted, and other special procedures administered -- allows the patient room to feel safe, eliminating fears and minimizing pain. The new treatment room features a child-friendly treatment table, vein finders (for accurate, onetime needle sticks), and fun, engaging decorations.
As a donor and supporter of the McLeod Foundation, Marvin’s hard work and generosity continues to help McLeod Children’s Hospital add new technology and equipment to provide the best healthcare possible for the region.
Grey Raines and his family are motivated by a mission to carry on his father’s legacy by supporting the McLeod Health Foundation. Grey’s father, Mark Raines, founder of Raines Hospitality Group in Florence, was a loyal supporter of the McLeod Children’s Hospital. From regular financial contributions to providing complimentary hotel rooms to families traveling for treatment at the Children’s Hospital, Mark was deeply committed to children’s healthcare throughout his life.
“My cousin was born with a heart defect, and had to undergo several surgeries early in life,” recalled Grey. “This experience demonstrated to him the need for a great Children’s Hospital.”
One of Mark’s favorite events to benefit the McLeod Children’s Hospital was the Annual Raines Hospitality Hot Dog Eating Contest.
“The hot dog contest started 16 years ago as a fun way to bring our employees together,” said Grey. “As it grew, it evolved into a charity event to support McLeod Children’s Hospital.”
As Raines Hospitality has expanded from a single hotel to nine – with five more currently under construction – what started as a small event for fewer than 20 employees, has now grown to include more than 300. Last year, the contest raised $5,000 for the Children’s Hospital.
Grey takes great pride in watching his father’s hot dog eating contest be an ongoing event, and flourish.
“The contest was Dad’s biggest event -- he thought about it all the time,” Grey recalled with a smile.
“And, as our business continues to grow, so will the impact we make on McLeod Children’s Hospital.”
In 2015, Mark began receiving care from McLeod Hospice for a chronic lung disease. Mark’s final days in the McLeod Hospice House in December of that year led the family to extend their support of the McLeod Foundation to include McLeod Hospice.
In 2017, the family was honored to be asked to represent all McLeod Hospice families in lighting the trees during the annual “A Light for Someone You Love” ceremony, which benefits the McLeod Hospice program.
benefits the McLeod Hospice program. “We saw firsthand how patients and families benefit from Hospice care during a very difficult time. It was a blessing for our family and we want to ensure other families receive that same level of excellent care in the years to come,” added Grey.
One year after beginning fertility treatments, Preston and Abigayle Shuey of New Zion, South Carolina, were overjoyed to learn that they were expecting twins. In August 2014, they welcomed their son, Hudson and daughter, Hadley.
Due to low blood sugar levels, Hudson received care in the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a brief time. After his discharge from the NICU, Hudson roomed in with Abigayle while doctors continued to monitor his levels.
Abigayle, Hudson, and Hadley were soon released from the hospital, and the family of four enjoyed every moment of their new adventure – until the unthinkable happened. In November 2014, Preston and Abigayle were devastated at the sudden passing of Hudson at only three months old.
“Paula Boyd, Hudson’s NICU nurse, reached out to me to offer condolences shortly after we lost Hudson,” recalls Abigayle. “It meant the world to us that she thought enough of our son to not only still remember him three months later but to think enough of him to reach out to us during such a devastating time.”
In the days ahead, the Shueys experienced an outpouring of love and support from family and friends.
“As we looked at everyone who attended Hudson’s funeral, Preston and I realized that he had already made a huge impact on the people in his life,” says Abigayle. “As time passed, however, my husband and I wanted to do something in his honor so that his life would not be forgotten.”
In 2017, Preston and Abigayle decided to donate to the McLeod NICU since both Hudson and their youngest son, Holden, spent time there. Although unsure of what to donate, the Shueys wanted to provide something that Hudson also benefited from. Preston reached out to the McLeod Foundation and learned that the NICU was in need of mamaRoos®, a special infant seat that mimics the natural motions parents use to soothe their babies.
“This was perfect because we had a mamaRoo® with the twins, and it was Hudson’s favorite place to be,” says Abigayle. The Shueys then learned that the NICU needed six mamaRoos®. They did not know if they could afford to provide all of them, but due to the overwhelming support of friends and family, the Shueys were able to purchase all six mamaRoos® as well as inserts and covers for each one.
On November 8, 2017, Preston and Abigayle, along with three-year-old Hadley and one-year-old Holden, presented the donation to the McLeod NICU in honor of Hudson. Each mamaRoo® bears a plaque with Hudson’s name.
The infant seats will be used with NICU patients suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition caused by an infant’s exposure to drugs in the womb. Infants often go through withdrawals after birth and require a quiet, calm environment. The soothing motions of the mamaRoo® will greatly benefit babies suffering from this condition while they undergo treatment.
“I believe if Hudson had grown up, he would be the one to help others,” says Abigayle. “He actually is part of the reason Hadley continued to grow in utero because he helped her get the nutrients she could not get on her own due to the way he was positioned.
“Though his life was short, Hudson made an incredible impact on everyone around him, and Preston and I feel blessed to make this donation in his memory so that he will never be forgotten.”
Thomas and Gray Hunter are grateful for the specialized women’s and newborn care they received at McLeod Regional Medical Center during the birth of their baby girl.
When the day finally came for Thomas and Gray Hunter to welcome their first child, Marion Gray, into the world, they fully expected a routine birth. There were no complications until the day of delivery.
Joy quickly turned to fear when the McLeod staff discovered the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around Marion’s neck. Gray’s physician quickly decided that emergency actions were needed to treat the baby.
“Both Marion and I lost a lot of blood,” explained Gray.
When Marion did not cry, the situation became even more frightful. The newborn was rushed to the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where she was given a blood transfusion.
Several hours later, Thomas and Gray visited Marion in the NICU. Marion’s skin, still blue from the lack of blood, made her “look so helpless with all the tubes and wires coming out of her,” recalled Gray.
Finally, Marion’s color returned. Although Marion was now in good condition, the stress of the day rendered Gray unable to produce breastmilk.
Knowing how vital breastfeeding is to the health of both the child and the mother, a McLeod Lactation Consultant worked with Gray on her breastfeeding techniques.
Thanks to its talented and dedicated labor and delivery staff, as well as the region’s only NICU, McLeod ensured not only that Gray was mother to a healthy baby girl, but that she and her child would reap the many benefits breastfeeding provides.
“The fact that McLeod has a NICU could have been the difference in life or death for Marion. I thank God for McLeod every night,” said Gray.
Thomas is also extremely thankful for the high level of care provided at McLeod Children’s Hospital, which would not be possible without support from the McLeod Health Foundation, he explained.
“The McLeod Health Foundation plays a crucial role in helping to ensure the availability of certain services within the McLeod Health system. After our daughter utilized the services of the Children’s Hospital, I have a much deeper appreciation for the impact each donor has on individual patients.”
This appreciation has led Thomas and Gray to become donors to the McLeod Foundation themselves.
“Contributions to the McLeod Health Foundation,” said Thomas, “allow you to have an impact on the community that is very tangible and extremely rewarding.”
The McLeod Health Foundation has been impacting the healthcare of those living in northeastern South Carolina through philanthropy since 1986. With the addition of McLeod Health Clarendon to the McLeod Health team of hospitals in 2016, the work of the Foundation now extends into Clarendon County and the surrounding communities.
“We have the opportunity to touch more than a million lives in the 15-county region we serve,” said Jill Bramblett, Executive Director of the McLeod Health Foundation. “We look forward to working with our healthcare teams and donors in Clarendon County to fund programs and services that support patient care at McLeod Health Clarendon.” Thanks to the dedicated efforts of community leaders who serve on the McLeod Foundation’s Clarendon Advisory Board, the Foundation is able to determine the specific needs of the patients who live in Clarendon County.
These members include Travis McIntosh, Chairman; Charlie Allen; Kelly Brown; Betty Coffey; Edward Frye; Louis Griffith; William Johnson; Frank Jones; Pat McNeil; Kay Prothro and Ron Wingard.
In 2016, the McLeod Foundation funded a number of projects at McLeod Health Clarendon totaling $212,000. These funds were used to purchase new state-of-the-art medical equipment and other items that enhance patient care at the hospital.
One area that benefitted from this funding was Labor and Delivery. The unit requested funds to purchase phototherapy overhead lights and a fiberoptic portable biliblanket for infant jaundice.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborn infants that can affect both full-term and premature babies. This temporary condition usually presents during the first week of a baby’s life causing the skin and whites of their eyes to appear yellow. Jaundice typically occurs because newborns produce an excess of bilirubin during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin is removed from the bloodstream by the liver. However, in a newborn the body may produce more bilirubin than the liver can process.
The most common form of treatment for infant jaundice is phototherapy or light treatment. During this process, light is used to eliminate bilirubin in the blood.
As the baby’s skin and blood absorb the light waves it changes the bilirubin so it can be passed out of the baby’s system through urine or stool.
“In the past, when a baby needed phototherapy for jaundice, bulky equipment prevented our team from being able to place all of the required equipment in a patient’s room. Understandably, this often led to separation anxiety for the family having to be apart from their newborn,” said Debi Love Ballard, Director of Labor and Delivery.
“Through the purchase of the phototherapy overhead lights and biliblanket, we are now able to keep infants requiring therapy and their families together.”
“Generous donations by our community, staff and volunteers allow the McLeod Foundation to fund projects that will benefit our patients and their families for years to come,” explained Carrie Anna Strange, Director of the McLeod Foundation at McLeod Health Clarendon. “The programs and services we support go beyond the hospital walls and reach straight into the heart of the communities we serve.”
The McLeod Foundation has embarked on “It’s Time,” a capital campaign for McLeod Health. This continues a commitment to excellence inspired by Dr. F. H. McLeod in 1899 when his vision for the Florence Infirmary began.
Support will help with the provision of the latest technology with 3D Mammography and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Monitors in addition to funds to supplement costs of construction for a new Emergency Department at McLeod Regional Medical Center. These important enhancements will ensure that McLeod Health offers the highest quality care to patients from the midlands to the coast.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Monitors
Time and again, grateful patients directly impacted by excellent health care wish to give back so others can have the same experience. For Amy Urquhart, the care given to her daughter in the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit seven years ago inspired her to support the McLeod NICU.
In June of 2010, Amy’s daughter Cate arrived six weeks early, weighing only four pounds. Amy had been diagnosed with preeclampsia and was in danger of suffering a stroke because of extremely high blood pressure. Understanding that delivering Cate early was the only way to reduce her risk of a stroke, Amy and her husband Derick accepted the decision knowing Cate would receive the best care possible in the McLeod NICU.
“Cate spent three weeks in the NICU, and I know she would not have thrived without this specialized care. The team of physicians and nurses wrapped their loving, skilled hands around Cate and helped guide us as new parents in how to care for our beautiful daughter,” said Amy.
“Often people take for granted what is important or what we have access to in Florence. Derick and I never expected to need the NICU, but we are grateful that McLeod has a Children’s Hospital with this level of care. It was wonderful and comforting to have these quality services so close to home.”
Amy and Derick’s support of the “It’s Time” campaign and the new NICU Monitors recently benefitted Amanda Allen’s daughter, Olivia. Like Amy, Amanda had developed preeclampsia but in a more severe form. At 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Amanda was hospitalized for blood pressure monitoring and testing. When she suddenly began experiencing the beginning stages of liver and kidney failure, the decision was to deliver Olivia early to save Amanda’s life.
“Olivia spent eight weeks in the McLeod NICU,” said Amanda. “I saw her for the first time 24 hours after birth, and it was an overwhelming moment. She looked peaceful, but there were so many machines, IV lines and monitors surrounding her. I felt like there was nothing I could do for her, which is difficult for a new mom.”
Amanda and her husband Harry quickly found comfort knowing Olivia was being cared for by a team of physicians and nurses who made them feel like family. “They shared in our jubilation when Olivia reached milestones, and they were a shoulder to cry on when she experienced a setback. When Olivia was discharged two months later, they really felt like an extension of our family,” added Amanda.
Through the generosity of donors like the Urquharts, the McLeod Foundation has purchased 38 new NICU monitors. These monitors are capable of providing more in-depth data on heart rhythm and oxygen flow as well as more accurate readings of a baby’s blood pressure. Additionally, the monitors feature the latest in pulse oximetry technology, which greatly aids in the prevention of retinopathy, a cause of blindness and other long-term health problems in premature babies. Other advantages of the new NICU monitors include: