A Children’s Hospital for MY Children

Posted on Posted in DrDownload

A picture is worth a thousand words, and as often as I write about our city’s need for a free-standing, full service children’s hospital, I wondered recently if I ought to switch to pictures…

I sent a letter to the editor of our local newspaper recently; they sent my letter back. “You need to edit seven hundred thirty six words down to three hundred words.” Left to guess which four hundred words I should toss, I just published my thoughts in the DrDownload blog here and admitted defeat. That’s when I wondered if folks would ever understand my dreams for a real children’s hospital, and I reached out to Regina Holliday.

If you don’t know Regina Holliday, she lives in Washington, DC and is the artist-founder of The Walking Gallery. If you are not familiar with her amazing work, you should read about her here. She experienced the world of doctors and hospitals and healthcare when her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and she began an important journey to tell the story of the many ways we can make healthcare better by painting beautiful murals . The first piece was created on a huge outdoor wall, but she eventually began to paint on the backs of sport coats and blazers.  She asked healthcare providers to wear her creations to national meetings. In a very public way, her art began to share the story of doctors and patients and our need to improve the ways of healthcare.

I have never met Mrs. Holliday.  Sometimes, though, I feel as though we’ve known each other a long time, much the same way good neighbors connect. I know exactly what I would have sent over for dinner when her family most needed comfort food and the supportive friends in the neighborhood. After her husband died, she created a walking healthcare story with her beautiful blazers, and The Walking Gallery lives when doctors and patients wear their creations to tell the story of a broken healthcare system in a way that words, like my editorial, never could.

Regina and I have a story to tell, and we share a heartfelt belief that things in healthcare can only get better with the telling of our stories. “You could tell the Richmond children’s story with a Walking Gallery jacket,” and I knew she would remind me that the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting was a national venue to wear my story.  I tried to convince my artist son to paint a blazer for me, but he reminded me that, “This is your story, Mom… your life’s cause. You can create this artwork and be part of telling its story.”

And so it is…

My story is about Richmond, Virginia and our children. They come from all walks of life, but they ALL do without a free-standing hospital to call their own. It’s politics, turf troubles, money woes, leadership struggles…all the stuff of the grownup world. For the duration of my twenty year career as a physician, grownup foolishness has kept our kids from having what every other city has seen fit to give their children: a TRUE hospital to call their own. Now, that story is part of The Walking Gallery. Watch.

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